Sunday, November 29, 2015

“The Common Object” still-life show with the Zeuxis group

February 4, 2010 by  
Filed under still life

Richard Baker

31 artists either members or guests of the Zeuxis association of still-life painters, agreed to paint a still-life that somehow included an ordinary dish towel (“The Common Object”) that was sent to each artist. It is fascinating to see the wide range of interpretation from being the central focus to barely noticeable. Some of my favorites are the works by Lucy Barber, Anthony Martino, Sydney Licht, Mark Karnes, Elizabeth Geiger, Catherine Kehoe and William Barnes. Zeuxis is an association of still life painters that was started in 1994 in NYC. They have held over forty exhibitions around the country. These shows have included such notable guest artists as Wayne Thiebaud, Nell Blaine, Lois Dodd and many others.

Catherine Kehoe’s excellent blog, powers of observation, has a write up about the show and she links to a terrific album of photos of many of the paintings in the show. There is a great essay for the show, “Giving the Mundane its Beautiful Due” by Imogen Sara Smith that is a good read on the museum website. Here is a brief excerpt from the essay…

What could be more ordinary or more overlooked than a dishtowel? This truly common object forms the unifying element in the present exhibit: each artist was asked to incorporate a dishtowel into a still life for the show. Many felt at first that the assigned object was an intruder in their studios, alien to their vocabularies. It arrived in the mail as a flat, neatly folded rectangle of cloth, new and cheap (Made in China, as the label announces), traced with a grid of color, straight lines crossing at regular intervals to form a pattern of squares. But the soft fabric can be draped, crumpled or sculpted so that folds syncopate the rhythm of the lines, create irregular curves, contours, shadows and highlights. The geometric pattern lends itself to formal concerns, but the towel also has inescapable associations with everyday tasks: washing dishes, drying hands. As a tool and as a visual element, the dishtowel is versatile and absorbent, a bland ingredient that can be molded to many uses. Some painters left it inconspicuously in the background, others made it their whole subject; some depicted it in realistic detail, others turned it into an abstract form. Wet or dry, smooth or wrinkled, clean or stained, it symbolizes the blank canvas, the eternal challenge to make something out of nothing.

This show is currently at the Lancaster Museum of Art, Lancaster, PA — January 8-February 28, 2010 and the Peninsula Fine Arts Center — Newport News, Virginia April 3-July 11, 2010

Lucy Barber

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2 Responses to ““The Common Object” still-life show with the Zeuxis group”
  1. Neil Plotkin says:

    You’re going too fast – wow! I wanted to say how great this whole thread has been. Catherine Kehoe’s blog is great as is the essay by Imogen Sara Smith. I was really pleased to see Sydney Licht was a part of this group as I know her and can say that she and her paintings are lovely. The work is really a painter’s delight – dealing with form, the material of paint and color juxtapositions. She has this amazing table which allows her to create her set ups and raise and lower the scene to the level that works best for the composition.

    I hope that you will consider doing more with some of the artists in the group or other still life painters.
    thanks again!!

  2. Philip Koch says:

    Only just noticed this review of the Common Object show now in late July. Quite fortuitously, I happened upon the show in its showing down in Virginia at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center. It was a lot of fun to see some work of old friends in this excellent exhibit/

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