NEW YORK—Continuing its efforts to expand representational art, the Art Renewal Center (ARC) has started to help artists connect with galleries. It teamed up first with Rehs Contemporary Galleries Inc., which has made all of its wall space available for a group show, “ARC Select 2016,” opening on Oct 22.
ARC has become an online hub for contemporary realism. It organizes skill-based art training programs, scholarship competitions, and salons, and has been building an online museum of over 7,000 artists since 1999.
Howard Rehs, of Rehs Galleries, selected six artists from ARC’s annual Salon finalists. The show comprises an eclectic mix of contemporary realist styles of landscapes, figure, and still life paintings. The artists, all highly skilled, painted new works specifically for the inaugural show.
Here is a sneak preview of the artists’ works, along with their comments on their own works.
‘Twilight, Hudson River’ by Joseph McGurl
Initially, the inspiration for “Twilight, Hudson River” was the dramatic topography of the Palisade cliffs. I have made several plein air studies of the Palisades over the past few years and have come to know that area of the Hudson River well.
For me, light and nature are spiritually symbolic. In “Twilight, Hudson River,” the warm, overarching light from the sky provided by nature is contrasted with the cold and sterile man-made light of the city. The painting is a bit of a pun on the light of nature versus the light of man.
While viewing this painting, I hope the viewer sees beyond the pictorial aspects of the artwork. There is a philosophical meaning that is also important. My goal is for the viewer to contemplate how man is an integral part of the natural world, and the way he interacts with it is something that requires a great deal of consideration. We are beginning to move towards a more unified coexistence as we learn that there is a bond between man, nature, science, and spirituality, and that bond is the true subject of this painting.
‘The College Fund’ by Richard Hall
I had this wonderful vintage pedal taxi in my collection for almost a year, but couldn’t find the spark for a story to tell about it—until one snowy day in New York, the story found me.
In January 2016, I was visiting Manhattan when a major snowstorm blanketed the region. The snow was remarkable, shutting down the city and airports for days. When the weather finally cleared enough for me to head home, I hailed a cab for the airport.
The cabbie was friendly, chatting the whole time we crawled along the icy roads. He told me how he had a big jar at home where he put all his tips to save a college fund for his children—and just like that, I could see the whole composition for “The College Fund,” complete with a coin-filled jar.
I hope people who look at my paintings, smile, reconnect to fond memories, and share those memories with their friends and family.
‘Rising’ by Walter Rane
I hope that these images might spark in each viewer an individual connection, that the paintings would open a window to many interpretations and questions (not necessarily answers). At the risk of closing those windows, here are some of my thoughts.
The painting poses a question about the relationship between earth and humanity. Are we an essential part of this environment? Beyond that, is it possible to separate what is essential about “us” from the physical, which raises the question of a spiritual reality? Is there an aspect of us that transcends the physical world? Are the physical and spiritual ultimately inseparable? What about our thoughts?
‘Sound of Innocence’ by Philippe Attie
I was inspired by the sudden love expressed by my 5-year-old son for classical music. Sometimes I see him turning my wife’s hair dryer into a saxophone, other times he takes a stick and moves it like a conductor leading a philharmonic orchestra in the dining room.
When I see that, I contemplate, admire, and learn. I let myself be lulled by the melody that resonates from the depth of his being. This melody carries passion, innocence, and dreams, which profoundly touches me and inspires my heart to play his music in a painting. That’s exactly what I hope viewers will feel when they look at “Sound of innocence.”
‘Tin Menagerie’ by Kari Tirrell
When I chose tin toys as my theme for this exhibit, it was natural for me to paint them jumbled together. The elaborate compositions seem to invite the viewer to stay engaged with the painting.
I’ve been told by people who own them that they see something new every time they study the painting, and I think that’s fun. Creating the jumble compositions is challenging. It may look like the toys are just haphazardly thrown into a pile, but they’re actually carefully arranged. I hope viewers have some sort of emotional connection with the painting, whether it evokes a sense of nostalgia, playfulness, or just makes them smile.
‘Bring Thyself to Account’ By Duffy Sheridan
In this painting, “Bring Thyself to Account,” the Maiden is holding a small golden globe, in which is reflected a portrait of the artist. I believe that it is our purpose as human beings to make the world a better place by striving daily to improve our actions and character. One way we can assist ourselves in doing this is, at the end of each day, we can reflect on what have been our actions…thus, bringing ourselves to account each day.
The theme of the painting was really directed to myself, but my hope is that the decorative nature of the image, without even knowing its true meaning, may still be pleasing to the eye of the viewer and if, perchance, something deeper is evoked, all the better.
Future ARC Select Exhibitions
Later this year, the Arcadia Contemporary gallery in Santa Monica, California, will host the second ARC Select show. ARC plans to have five galleries participate in ARC Select shows in 2017. Kara Lysandra Ross, chief operating officer of ARC, said she hopes to eventually have 20 or 30 galleries participate each year, which would allow about 120 to 180 artists, selected for the ARC Salon to have a venue to sell works and hopefully make long lasting connections for an ongoing source of income.
The ARC Select Opening Event is scheduled for Oct. 22 from 1–6 p.m. and all of the works will remain on display through Nov. 19 at Rehs Contemporary Galleries located at 5 E. 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10022.