ARC Visions at Arcadia Contemporary: A Fresh Take on Realism
By Genie Davis
Just closed at the Arcadia Contemporary, the group exhibition Arc Visions featured the work of winners from the 12th Annual International Art Renewal Contemporary (ARC) Salon Arcadia Contemporary Award. The ARC Salon is an international exhibition of the work of realist painters including award winners Ben Bauer, Rachel Bess, Daniel Bilmes, Candice Bohannon, Alex Callaway, Leslie Fornalik, Zoey Frank, David Gluck, Amanda Grieve, and Steven J. Levin.
ARC supports the realist art movement as a 501C3 non-profit educational foundation. The gallery itself frequently showcases representational artists.
Arc Visions offered a range of work by artists from contemporary, beautifully detailed landscapes to traditional portraiture with an edgy twist.
Working in oil on linen, Ben Bauer’s “Hugo Farmstead at 1am” offers a haunting long distance view rendered in blues, blacks, and white. Stillness, moonlight, and snow – loneliness, longing, and home: these are the visual and emotional takeaways from a beautiful, detailed piece. Richer and warmer, with velvety greens in the foreground, a similarly rooted landscape, “Summer Moonlit Scene at Cushing” is filled with promise; as if in the burgeoning fields peace was found.
Traditional portrait painting takes on an air of mystery in Rachel Bess’ “Charms,” in which a comely nude woman, arms criss-crossed on her chest, gazes out at the viewer with curiosity and daring. Her multi-hued hair creates an impression of the artistic; my first thought in seeing the work was to think of a magician’s assistant or circus acrobat – someone caught at the moment before performance, in something perhaps the viewer was not supposed to observe. The position of her arms and the subject’s nakedness furthers the impression.
In a different way, Daniel Blimes’ precisely, perfectly rendered “Polaris” is also about the mysterious. Here, a woman leans forward on horseback, in front of her, another woman strides across a plain. Monochromatic, the finely painted lines here and in Blimes’ image of three women bent by the wind in “Caught in the Current” create a kind of fairy-tale imagery. Both works are oil on panel.
Candice Bohannon’s “Immersion,” oil on linen panel, is dark and dense, reminding one of portraiture from the past. Yet with its dark forested trees in the background, the stunning gold leaf crown on the subject’s profiled head, and the softly sensual lines of her torso, the piece also has a contemporary twist. Also revealing a current edge: Alex Callaway’s still life renderings of apples that seem to glow from within as in “Apple on a Brick II”; and Leslie Fornalik’s poignant “Souvenirs of Elizabeth Strong.” Fornalik comprises a similar portrait of detailed and meaningful objects in “Souvenirs of John Marshall Gamble.”
It would be hard not to enjoy Zooey Frank’s work, particularly her softly impressionistic take on realism in “Cevita Kitchen,” where pastel colors and sunlight take on a life of their own.
Amanda Greive gives us a taste of the surreal in her “Requiem for the Obedient,” in which a nude woman is bent into a crouch, with flowers and dirt on her back and dirt scattered around her. Greive uses flowers in unusual, ritualistic ways: flowers in a bouquet obscure the face of her subject in “Hannah” and crown the head of a girl with face thrown back into the darkness of “The Girl with the Flower Crown.” Steven Levin’s “Books and Butterfly 4” with its fiery-hued background and sculptural stack of books also edges on the surreal.
Located at 9428 Washington Blvd. in Culver City, the gallery is a home to realist representational arts. Coming in November, Jordan Sokol will be featured in a solo exhibition at the space.