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Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago
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NJAPF, Hyde Park Art Center
Vermont Studio Center
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365 DAYS ARTISTS Interview

Brickton Art Center


Robert Putnam and Darell Roberts The texture of change , September, 2007 Fall is a time for change; the trees and landscape provide vibrant and rich colors that transform before our eyes. It is during this time that we cannot help but notice the brilliant textures, shapes, and patterns that nature provides. For two Chicagoland artists, Robert Putnam and Darrell Roberts, this heightened sense of textural awareness is a daily ritual. Both artists, featured in our September invitational, The Texture of Change, utilize landscape and structural observation as main components of their artistic processes. Darrell Roberts explains, “The ever-changing landscape and structures of the metropolis inspire my work. Over the years, I have documented Chicago--the lake, the gardens, the skyline, its people and construction sites. All these elements and textures influence my work.” Roberts grew up on a small rural farm in Iowa where he honed his observational skills on long walks. He now juxtaposes that experience with the sensory overload of city living. “The pace of people, traffic and hectic life make it easier for me to notice the subtle changes of textures, colors, forms and light…these changes quickly catch my eye and give me a moment to rest.” Roberts' practice involves applying paint, scrapping it away, layering, and accumulation which result in canvases that are opaque and full of color, texture and visual stimulation. Robert Putnam also uses observation and layering during the creation of his paintings. “I work with areas or fields of color using layers of paint to build up a surface and texture.” Putnam draws on the mundane aspects of everyday such as spilled gravel or patterns created by broken sidewalks, transforming them into color and form. He believes the artist’s job is to create pure forms that resonate awareness within the human spirit. He uses his imagination as well as nature to achieve this goal. “The mystery of the world is seen in nature and may also be discovered by making feelings and emotions visible. These visual markings open a window to our spiritual foundation. Through color-form-texture relationships I try to create a stillness and silence that points to the mystery.” Join Robert Putnam and Darrell Roberts for an opening night reception on Friday, September 7th, 2007 from 7-9pm. The Texture of Change will be on exhibit at Brickton Art Center from September 7- October 5, 2007.
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Artists create abstract layers, textures. September 20, 2007 By MYRNA PETLICKI Contributor. At first glance, the two sides of Brickton Art Center's current exhibit seem to be at odds with each other. To the left, you primarily see acrylic pieces with dark solid backgrounds and small areas of colorful geometric shapes. To the right, bright swirls of oil nearly dance off the canvases. Spend some time with the pieces and you understand the logic of pairing works by these two abstract artists with very different styles in this two-person show, "The Texture of Change." The unifying element -- as indicated by the title of the exhibition -- appears to be each artist's emphasis on texture. Park Forest artist Robert Putnam paints over each creation many times and has plans to carry the process even further. "I'm going to be working longer on paintings," he reported, "developing overlaying and overlaying until I can get the kind of surface that I'm looking for, which is sort of like polished mahogany."

Chicago North Sider Darrell Roberts also uses layers of color -- painting, scrapping and repainting numerous times. The paint is so thick on some of the pieces that the viewer can begin to imagine the presence of three-dimensional objects. "People see all kinds of things," Roberts agreed. "Someone saw one painting as an aquarium and could see the fish swimming through." Eye of the beholder Such visions are fine with the artist. "I don't like to be really specific because I like people to relate to it themselves and have their own experience," Roberts explained. The artists agree that the combined exhibit works. "I think it resonates pretty well," Putnam said. "I was really pleased we were paired together," Roberts said. Putnam, who has two degrees in English literature, was a technical illustrator for 30 years. He has been painting full-time for the past eight years. One of his artistic influences was the early work of Matisse, "where he did some important iconic paintings where he had large blocks of color." He cites cathedral stained glass as another major influence. Putnam previously worked in oils, but he had a serious chemical reaction to the solvents so he switched to his current medium. "Acrylic is my teacher," he declared. "I work with color, shape and surface."

Inspiration is all around Roberts, who fills his studio with patterned colored papers, toys and other eye-catching objects. It's also filled with the paintings on which he is working -- often 15 at a time. "It's like this fantasy area where I can go and play," Roberts said, describing his painting process as "a lot of intuition and letting things happen." No easel, no way Roberts doesn't use an easel. Instead, he works on paintings hanging on the wall or placed on a large table in his studio. "If you develop this relationship with your paintings, they sort of speak to you and guide you to what needs to be done next," he said. "A lot of it is the relationship of colors, lines, textures." Most of Roberts' paintings in the Brickton exhibit are part of his "Chicago Park/Garden" series. "I documented the gardens by the lake in downtown Chicago, where there's all these beautiful flowers and textures," he related. "I walk by the lake and take photos of different vegetation, colors and flowers, and even photograph the sky and the lake, and the changing of the blues, blue-greens and aquas, and use that as my influence." He is also inspired by buildings being demolished. "I'll photograph the debris or the structure that's being built," Roberts said. "There's something about that rawness of the form that's really nice to capture." Roberts, who holds a master of fine arts degree from the School of the Art Institute, loves sharing what he knows with others. He teaches at the Lill Street Art Center and the Hyde Park Art Center. "I teach mostly adults classes," he said. "I have people that take beginning classes that have never drawn or painted before. Then, after five weeks, they begin to see like an artist. I think it changes their lives forever. It makes people take time to notice things more." 'THE TEXTURE OF CHANGE' Through Oct. 5. Brickton Art Center, 147 Vine, Park Ridge. (847) 823-6611.