Saturday, October 28 to Saturday, December 2, 2017
Jean K. Stephens
If asked to describe a 'typical" work by Jean Stephens, even those who know her work well would be at something of a loss. This is because the chief characteristic of her work is its tremendous variability in terms of style, media, and subject matter. Many of Jean's landscapes illustrate her talent as a plein air painter. They speak of temporality, with the locus of the light clearly established and the shadows operating almost as sundials. The ultimate charm of these landscapes lies precisely in their communicating a sense of urgency to take in the moment before it vanishes. But plein air landscapes are only one facet of Jean Stephens' work.
Her paintings and drawings of specific objects defy common notions of "still Life." The objects are "found" and their prominent manner of display forces us to look through the artists eye in discovering the forms and colors which dictated their selection. They speak to the very transmutation from object to artifact. Whatever the subject or the medium, one fact remains constant and constantly apparent: her superb skill as a draughtsman gives the artist a freedom of exploration which few artists can claim.
If Jean Stephens impresses by the breadth of styles and media with which she works, Chris Baker impresses by the singularity. Although an accomplished painter in oil or transparent watercolor, Baker's medium of choice is gouache or, as it is often called, "opaque watercolor." A uniquely flexible medium, gouache can be applied in a viscous state to build texture, or it can be diluted to create the broad washes of color or the flowing lines which we usually associate with transparent watercolor. And Baker uses the medium to fullest effect, combining, in a single work, an elegant drawn line, expressive flourishes, and the inherent flatness of the watercolor surface.
The painter's gaze may focus on the architectural intricacies of a door jamb, the geometrical lines of a street corner, or the grandeur of a historical monument. But in the end result, it is a fundamental humanity which informs his images. Baker's world is one which is present and inhabited. His paintings often convey the sense of a "snapshot": a commonplace event frozen in time. A consistent theme running through his work is the intersection of past and present, of the timeless and the everyday. In this exhibition, he has chosen to focus on many landmarks of the Rochester area.