May 2015: Julie Ann Smith & Dave Benz

Dave Benz will present a body of small walnut ink paintings that are inspired by photos from the early 20th Century. Topics include Modernism, Spiritualism, fairies, and Orientalism in their various forms—the sincere, the fraudulent, and the pretended. Says Benz, “I feel as if my paintings are dictated to me from something else. I see myself as a medium and believe that my job is to align myself with this creative impulse and also with the painting itself. I must add that I rarely do this perfectly. During the various steps of making a painting, I will ‘see’ something that belongs in the painting, and I do my best to add it. At times where the decision-making process breaks down, I consult a Magic 8-Ball for direction. The resulting paintings are dream-like.” The walnut ink is applied to the water color paper in multiple layers. Benz uses photographs for reference. Sometimes these come from his collection of existing period photos. Sometimes he does the photography himself.

Julie Ann Smith’S oil paintings explore contemporary icons & formal elements. The two are combined in this series which depicts the iconic “paper espresso coffee cups” as the subject of her 10 new still life paintings. She continues to explore classical painting styles, techniques, and materials. Smith painted from objects set up in her studio. Then she began incorporating the preliminary drawings as “things” existing independently from the painting, not just a tool used in the process of creating a finished product. The paintings range from very formal, straight forward still life paintings to abstract deconstruction and illusionism. She plays with the formal elements of form, symmetry, balance, and limited hues while asking the viewer to question “what is reality” including a little visual trickery, and hints concerning the process.