Gallery Y: Ed Valentine “Somebody’s Beauty”
Gallery X: Michael Stillion “B.Z.&C: Bent, Zigzag and Crooked”
February 8 – April 5, 2013
Opening Reception: Friday, February 8, 2013, 6-9pm
Linda Warren Projects is proud to usher in 2013 with exhibitions by gallery artists Ed Valentine and Michael Stillion. Though both painters engage portraiture on the surface, each artist spins off from that trope, transcending the figure and presenting viewers with differing conceptual points of entry. In Ed Valentine’s “Somebody’s Beauty” in Gallery Y, and Michael Stillion’s “B.Z.C: Bent, Zigzag and Crooked” in Gallery X, both artists build pictures upon frameworks with endless potential for painting production.
“Someone once told me that whenever they get close to understanding what my work is about I seem to pull the rug out from under them,” Ohio-based artist Ed Valentine explains of his Untitled Portraits, which have for years continually eluded straightforward readings. The strokes of spray paint, dripping lines, flat shapes and patches of expertly rendered, highly-representational features lead to no theoretical or academic conclusion; rather, they serve to spark the imagination and lead to less fixed, more complex modes of interpretation.In Untitled Portrait with Blue Drip and Painted Hat, Valentine has chosen to take the emphasis off of an individualized, but anonymous subject, and reinforce the rest of what is to be discovered within the painting. Her left eye is carefully painted, staring directly at the viewer while the right is rendered loosely, focused on something unseen beyond the canvas. Her hat has the simplest suggestion of volume, her blouse merely a series of flattened circles, and her mouth smeared with an expressionist blotch of mustard yellow. Valentine challenges his viewers to collect and consider these disparate formal elements and glean from them moments of humor, universality, intrigue and wonder.
Where Ed Valentine’s paintings inform through various formal cues, Ohio-based Michael Stillion seeks out symbols from the everyday in his exhibition “B. Z. C: Bent, Zigzag and Crooked,” which references the historical Bellaire, Zanesville and Cincinnati Railroad. Drawing inspiration from his hometown of Pleasant City and the surrounding Appalachian towns, Stillion finds meaning in the scarves, gloves, socks, jackets and capes that enshroud his neighbors. In his portraits, Stillion embraces these items and intuitively piles, wraps and hangs them on and about his subjects –his novel method of creating portraits without using the figure.Citing Rembrandt, Van Eyck, Dürer, Caravaggio and tribal medicine man garb as historical touch points, Stillion invigorates these inanimate objects in order to relay the essence of personality that we typically expect a figure to embody. Variations in pattern, texture and draping distinguish each subject from another. The somber palette and peaked folds of Checkered Funeral contrast the bulbous knots and jaunty plumage of Feather In a Cap. But however different the subjects are from each other, what remains constant is a sense of withholding and of mystery created by what is never revealed.
Ed Valentine was born in Columbus, Ohio, 1951. After attending The Columbus College of Art and Design, he left without a degree and moved to NYC in 1979 where he exhibited in such venues as The Palladium, The Knitting Factory, Bess Cutler Gallery, The Phyllis Kind Gallery and Avenue B Gallery in the East Village. While in NYC, Valentine was invited by the punk band The Ramones to do artwork on their tenth album, “Ramones Mania.” In 1991 Valentine returned to Ohio and soon received a Bachelors degree from The Columbus College of Art and Design and a Masters degree from The Ohio State University. He has shown throughout the United States, Europe, The United Arab Emirates and Japan and has appeared in numerous catalogs and publications including reviews in Cover Arts New York, The East Village Eye, 108 East Village Review, The L. A. Times, Art Week Los Angeles, The San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Bay Guardian, The San Francisco Examiner and The Columbus Dispatch. Valentine is currently a Full Professor in the Department of Art at O.S.U. Lima.
Michael Stillion received his BFA in 2002 from Columbus College of Art and Design, and his MFA in 2007 from Indiana University in Bloomington. He has been the recipient of a Joan Mitchell Full Fellowship, an Ohio Arts Council Grant for Individual Excellence, as well as a One Year Full Fellowship to attend the Roswell Artist-in-Residence program. Stillion’s work has been exhibited in venues around the country including 1305 Gallery, Cincinnati; Birke Gallery at Marshall University, West Virginia; Riffe Gallery in Columbus, Ohio; Vaudeville Park in Brooklyn, New York; and Caestecker Art Gallery, Ripon College, Wisconsin. His work can be found in many private collections and was recently acquired by the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art in New Mexico.