JOHNSON CITY (July 16, 2013) – The exhibit “Grade AA Cage Free: A Dozen from Jonesborough” is on display through Aug. 16 at East Tennessee State University’s Slocumb Galleries.
An artists’ reception will be held Thursday, July 18, from 5-7 p.m.
Presented by the ETSU Department of Art and Design, the exhibition features 12 artists working in diverse media and style. There is predominance of two-dimensional work in the exhibition featuring figurative images by Tom Root, Jennifer Bledsoe and Sharon Squibb, while landscape and architectural scenes are presented by Bill Bledsoe, Peggy Root, Lee Ann Petropoulos and photographer Peter Montanti.
The abstract form is equally celebrated in the works of painter Charles Jones and mixed media artists Steve Cook and Tava Cook. Sculptors Michael Hale and mentor Catherine Murray provide the three-dimensional form and more conceptual approach to Jonesborough art.
The title of the show is inspired by the high level of quality that each artist strives to achieve, the vibrancy of their diverse subjects, and unbound experimentation on media.
The Slocumb Galleries’ summer hours are Monday- Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. with extended hours during receptions and scheduled tours. All events are free and open to the public. Slocumb Galleries is located within Ball Hall along Sherrod Drive on the ETSU campus.
Painters Tom Root and Peggy Root are renowned for their highly realistic portraits and landscape scenery. Tom employs painting to express his “emotions and sense of harmony,” qualities that are evident in his compositions. While Tom works mostly with live sitting models, Peggy values the “rigorous and invigorating process” of on-the-spot painting, encapsulating in simple and elegant strokes the significance of the landscape scenery. In 2011, Tom and Peggy established the Root School of Painting and Drawing in Johnson City.
Photographer Peter Montanti’s passion for landscape and architectural photography is evident in his meticulous rendition of details, lighting and composition. His large-scale photographs depict the ephemeral beauty and dynamism of running water over stones, the fluidity of the elements captured in time. His client-driven practice through Mountain Photographics studio has enabled him to travel from coast to coast.
Jennifer and Bill Bledsoe are another couple working in tandem as artists. Though both are painters, their works have very different temperaments. Bill’s work features bold and vibrant renditions of various regional architectural landmarks. In contrast, Jennifer’s portraits and figures in nude evoke a more introverted calmness. Bill teaches at Providence Academy and is an adjunct faculty member in ETSU’s digital media program.
Also working as an art teacher and faculty member at the newly renovated McKinney Center at the Booker T. Washington School in Jonesborough is Sharon Squibb, also an active member of the Jonesborough Repertory Theater. Squibb’s interest in various media – mainly painting, drawing and printmaking – is evident in the vibrant art program that she runs at University School on the campus of ETSU, where high school students are exposed to diverse media and motivated to explore various creative platforms.
Exploration of various materials and process is also a driving force for mixed media artists Steve Cook and wife Tava Cook. Steve’s interest in the devices that produce the end product, as well as “wearing multiple hats” as a woodworker, pattern artist, stained glass artist, electrician and colorist, resulted in his current series of fused neon and glass art. Tava, on the other hand, also “pushes the boundaries” of mosaic work. She combines varied materials to create geometric and decorative patterns on non-traditional surfaces.
Catherine Murray, chair of the Department of Art and Design at ETSU and sculptor turned encaustic painter, continues to experiment on mixed media to explore the tension evoked by such dichotomies as life and death, light and dark, and serious intention and wistful humor. She is interested in the discoveries that are exposed through her artistic process, which she considers as “uncertain adventure, the vehicle” that enables these creative revelations.
The parallel trend of addressing dichotomy is found in the mosaic work by Lee Ann Petropoulos. According to Petropoulos, she addresses the male and female dichotomy in her art. While her media is seemingly masculine, her choice of subjects from nature, characterized by organic, feminine attributes, provides a counterpoint.
Exploring the psychological aspects of the characters he portrays, painter Charles Jones derives inspiration from myths, literature, music and other cultural manifestations of the human psyche for his compositions as “source of metaphors” in his investigation of human existential choices. Similarly, sculptor Michael Hale examines philosophical ideas and how these evolve within the ever-changing culture of society. Through his work, which combines hand-carved sculptures and installations composed of ready-made pieces, he attempts to challenge traditional concepts by employing art as commentary and agency.