Color Quest

Paintings by Christopher Engel, Ralph Stout, Jack Walls, David Dew Bruner and sculpture by Leon Smith

Opening Reception: Saturday, March 7th, 5-7 pm

March 4, 2020 through April 19, 2020

Ralph Stout prolifically creates canvases, works on paper, and photography in his studio located in East Hampton, NY. Well versed in abstraction, his paintings “exploit the tension between the putative foreground and background”. He oftentimes reworks the canvases until each element of bold color and graphic line work is situated in perfect harmony. Having earned a degree in mathematics and computer programing from Bucknell University, it comes as no surprise that his hard edge paintings achieve an almost calculated composition.

Chicago born artist, Jack Walls, will exhibit a selection of paintings from two series that he completed in Hudson, NY between 2016 - 2019. Negatives is a series of abstracted black and white portraits painted on hand-stitched cotton canvas. The knobby, stitched seams interplay with dynamic black line work to comprise primitive renderings of faces with names like “Sampson”, “Asop” and “Romulus”. While the underlying “patchwork” foundation of the latest paintings in the series Poems remains the same, Walls’ complete departure from representation gives the new work a voice all its own. As an ode to his other creative passion, poetry, Walls pairs illustrative titles with each piece, lending a story to the compositions of bold color blocks.

Abstract paintings by Christopher Engel highlight expressionistic gestures of saturated color. Made between a four-year period, these paintings show the evolution of Engel’s examination of space and form. With canvases over 4ft tall, broad arcs and linear applications of paint propel Engel’s foreground against a subdued background, where the artist achieves a mindful spatial perception. “Space is something ever present”, he states, “even in total darkness we are conscious of space around us. I try to achieve this feeling with color, texture, overlapping shapes and scale.” The Hudson Valley artist has exhibited nationwide and recently relocated to Virginia.

As an exciting new addition to his creative repertoire, David Dew Bruner will introduce a series of mixed media collages inspired by found images of black and white shells from a vintage picture book. Imposing in scale, the artist led the images into surreal territory by floating them upside down on an undefined, abstract background, lending them a cocoon or alien-like quality. The graphic shells are juxtaposed with pops of painted color, black cut outs, and marbled orbs on a tightly knit grid pattern. The artist explains “by taking them out of their natural aquatic landscapes…they become sculptures, alien objects, or flying vessels…reinventing our understanding and relationship to them.”

It is always a pleasure to revisit the quirky tabletop sculptures by the late artist, Leon Smith. An Australian native, his early career in dentistry sparked an interest in carvings and moldings. He later moved to America, with his wife, Elaine, and settled in the scenic town of Ancramdale. Never was an artist so full of passion, ambition and curiosity. His extensive oeuvre of abstract sculpture, many with kinetic qualities and playful titles, all uniquely reflect his sharp sense of humor. Small sculptures made of wood or various metals were oftentimes prototypes for larger than life outdoor models, many of which are installed on his 22-acre property, “Smith Hill”, or local public buildings, such as the Columbia Memorial Hospital and Roe Jan Community Library. Our beloved Leon passed away in October of 2019, but his spirit lives on in his inventive designs.

Christopher Engel

David Dew Bruner

Jack Walls (painting)

Leon Smith

Ralph Stout