Painters Painting Painters

Painters Painting Painters

Painters Painting Painters runs through Friday, March 27, 2020
Painters Painting Painters runs through Friday, March 27, 2020

I will often think of an idea for an exhibition that is not a simple one, one that needs explanation. This is because I like things that are mysterious and also because I like to follow spiraling thoughts that get more abstract, even as they come in to focus.  Our current exhibition, Painters Painting Painters is not an exhibition with a big complex idea. The idea for this exhibition is a simple one and it is spelled out clearly in the title. We asked painters to paint paintings of other painters!

Detail shots of each painting included in Painters Painting Painters
Detail shots of each painting included in Painters Painting Painters

The idea for this exhibition started with a painting. One that I saw on Instagram just over a year ago by Chad Cleveland—who is included in this exhibition—that he had started of Honeoye Falls artist, Bill Stephens. Some time last spring, I spoke with Chad and said I was thinking of putting together this show and thanked him for sparking the thought!

From there a list of painters was made and we are delighted with the diverse group of 22 painters that we ended up with for the show. To make the exhibition more democratic, we selected the names of the artists from a jar in order to figure out who would be painting who. Funny enough, only two sets of artists got to paint each other—Shawnee Hill and Sarah Morgan painted each other and so did Jean Stephens and Thanasi Hristodoulou. It has been fun to talk to people about the exhibition when they visit the gallery. We get to say things like “Brian O’Neill painted John VanHouten, who painted Robert Marx, who painted Brian O’Neill!” and Lacey McKinney painted Geena Massaro, who painted Luvon Sheppard, who painted Bruce Adams, who painted Fritz Proctor, who then painted Lacey McKinney!”

(left) Sarah Butler, installing the vinyl for the feature wall; (right) the finished wall including vinyl, yarn, and photos
(left) Sarah Butler, installing the vinyl for the feature wall; (right) the finished wall including vinyl, yarn, and photos

Sarah—my wife, assistant director, graphic designer, and all around wonderful person—came up with a brilliant visual depiction of this puzzle. This can be seen on the wall in the gallery and in the catalog that she put together for the exhibition.

Explaining the exhibition to students in our After School Art Experience program
Explaining the exhibition to students in our After School Art Experience program

This exhibition has also prompted the students in our after school program, The After School Art Experience, to try their hands at figurative painting and portraiture. I gave them an introduction to the exhibition and our instructor, Pam Viggiani has been talking about the paintings in the show along with historical examples of artists who use the figure in their work.

Pam Viggiani speaking to ASAE students about Brian O'Neill's painting of John VanHouten
Pam Viggiani speaking to ASAE students about Brian O’Neill’s painting of John VanHouten

We had planned to host an open house for the After School Art Experience during this exhibition to showcase what the students were up to during this session. Their work was to hang on the walls in the middle of the gallery, alongside the exhibition. At this time, due to the current situation in dealing with the Coronavirus, this open house will be postponed for a later date. You will still be able to see the work of these talented young artists inspired by the painters in Painters Painting Painters, unfortunately just not alongside the exhibition.

We had also scheduled a painting workshop with Tom Galambos, who is included in this exhibition. Tom’s workshop—Adding Illumination to figurative paintings—originally scheduled for Saturday, March 28 will be postponed for a later date. Please check our events page on our website for these rescheduled dates in the near future.

So, while the exhibition started with a straightforward and simple idea, it became more complex in the execution of the concept. The connections made between the variety of artists have made this show a favorite among gallery visitors.  If you were not able to make it in to see the show, no worries! We are creating a virtual version of the exhibition for you to experience from the comfort of your own home. Check our Facebook page in the coming days. We will link to it here once it is live.


Painters Painting Painters runs February 22—March 27.t

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