The Davis Gallery at Houghton House will host an opening reception for the exhibit titled, “Presence: The Figure in Contemporary Painting,” on Friday, Jan. 27, from 7 to 9 p.m. This exhibition brings together the work of three highly regarded painters- Jeremy Long, Kurt Moyer, and Kyle Staver-each of whom has a distinctive take on the representation of the human form.
“The central organizing principle of this show is that, in an effort to make paintings with presence, painters who work with the figure must strike an expressive balance between their formal and technical goals and the intended and unintended narrative implications invoked by the presence of a person,” says Associate Professor of Art Nick Ruth. “In this sense, a painting can only rise above the illustrational and effect viewers at a visceral level when its painter attends not only to what is painted but also to how it is painted. If color, form, mark, and space embody ideas, then a painting will have presence.”
Ruth, the curator for the exhibit, was originally inspired by Moyer’s presence of figures in his landscapes when he worked across the hall from Moyer in a studio in Rochester, N.Y. Looking for other artists who seemed to create a compelling balance between the psychological richness of the work and its formal sophistication, Ruth ran across the work of Long, whose dreamlike paintings seemed to exemplify Ruth’s theme of presence. Fearing that he was presenting too narrow a sample of how contemporary painters approach the figure, Ruth, in agreement with both Long and Moyer, included Staver’s work to round out the exhibition.
“Her work is extremely immediate, in the sense that the solidity of her compositions is infused with a kind of urgency in the mark making,” explains Ruth. “The narratives feel highly personal, brimming with feeling, and the brushwork feels the same. Ultimately, there is a third and essential aspect to her work, which is the dynamic way she organizes everything in space. All of these aspects are of a piece, happening at the same time, and it makes her work very exciting to see.”
Intending to inspire both deep discussion about technical accomplishments and inventiveness of approaches to space, color and narrative, Ruth hopes that the exposure to good art will make everyone want to immediately go to the studio and paint.
Long attended The Kansas City Art Institute and The Chautauqua school of Art, studying with Wilbur Niewald, Lester Goldman, and Stanley Lewis, before going on to receive his MFA from American University. Currently an assistant professor at Ithaca College, he has taught at Knox College and Assumption College. Exhibited in galleries and museums in the United States and Italy, Long is represented by the Linda Warren Gallery in Chicago, Ill. You can see more of Jeremy Long’s work at www.lindawarrengallery.com .
Moyer received his bachelor’s in fine arts in painting and printmaking from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, and has been a working artist for more than 12 years, focusing on landscape and figurative painting. Moyer’s paintings have been exhibited widely throughout the North East in select public and private institutions including: the Gross McCleaf Gallery, the eDavid Gallery, the Susan Maasch Gallery, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Allentown Art Museum, Pennsylvania State Museum, Penn State University, Loyola College, the Baum School of Art, and the Phillips Museum at Franklin and Marshall College. Kurt is represented by the Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia. Moyer lives and works in Rochester, N.Y. You can see more of his work at www.kurtmoyer.com .
Staver, who received her MFA in painting from Yale University, was the recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in 2003 and the Benjamin Altman Figure Prize in both 1996 and 1998. She has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in the U.S., including recent solo shows at Lohin Geduld Gallery in New York City and at the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design in Lancaster, Pa. More of Staver’s work can be found at www.kylestaver.com .
The exhibit, which initially opened on Jan. 20, will run through Feb. 13. The gallery will be open Monday thru Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 1 to 5 p.m.
The painting above is called “Summer” by Jeremy Long.