More About the Artists:
For Immediate Release:
The word “obsession” usually evokes a sense of infatuation, a fixation or even a possession. RiverSea Gallery has invited three established Oregon artists to explore this concept in an exhibition simply titled, Obsession. Included will be the work of sculptor Steve Eichenberger, oil paintings by Shannon Richardson and the ceramic sculpture of Jacquline Hurlbert.
There will be two events to celebrate this mysterious and somewhat dark collection. Saturday, November 6th 6 –8 pm, RiverSea Gallery will be hosting First Night, a preview party and artists’ talk. This event is open to all and offers a chance to meet the artists and learn the stories behind their artwork in a convivial setting. Dark chocolate and other obsessive delectables will be served. And as always, RiverSea Gallery will be participating in Second Saturday Artwalk, 5 – 8 pm, November 13th. The artwork will remain on display through November 30th.
In exploring the theme as concept, each artist considered the immediate connotation, which can be vast, but eventually leads one to a sense of undeniable desire, a need driven to compulsion. Jacquline Hurlbert, Shannon Richardson and Steve Eichenberger explore the nuances of obsession through metaphor and process. Their applied definitions vary and can refer to specific work, or how the thought process developed into a distinct series of work. Each artist provides a profound and provocative collection, which portrays a strong sense of story, liberally laced with drama.
Jacquline Hurlbert, known throughout the Northwest for her figurative ceramic sculpture has again pushed her three-dimensional forms to the point of metamorphosis. She refuses to allow her work to stagnate; this is where obsession begins. For Hurlbert, the process starts with an idea later transitioning to emotion. “That emotion intensifies and wants a way out of my head. This is the point at which I start to experience my obsession. The transition from thought to finished artwork is driven by a compulsion to express myself. I can’t seem to let go of that original thought until I see it transformed into something concrete. This is a frustrating and exciting part of my creative process. I need to figure out how to communicate my thoughts and emotions without words. At this point my hands need to do the talking and my brain has to give up to that process…not always an easy thing to do! When my hands stop, I’m done. I come out of my trance to discover the finished piece.”
Hurlbert includes within this new series both wall hung and free standing sculpture. Each figure tells a story through use of color, scale, facial expression, and the subtlety of costume. Some of Hurlbert’s “dwellers” are quiet and introspective, while others maintain a sense of mystery with daunting secrets held. The individual “dweller”, in turn, becomes a player in an untold drama, allowing the viewer to create the story, much like pawns ready for a game of chess.
For Shannon Richardson, a painter, obsession is about her process. “My obsession is paint. The process of creating paintings comes out of this obsession, it is not so much the imagery that haunts me, the outcome of each piece, it is the journey getting there, the obsessive need to document daily the subtle changes of my life and perceptions.”
Within Richardson’s paintings is a delicate existence of intuition and narration, allowing room for self-discovery and answers to questions that may or may not have been presented previously. Working impulsively and beginning each piece without direction, Richardson allows the painting to find its own voice, leading her in a direction unknown. Working this way allows Richardson to stay within the moment, responding purely to color, texture and gesture to what each brush stroke reveals. “This reaction becomes a dialog between the developing work and my internal narrative, and it takes over my thoughts, my life. I obsess about the characters, why did they appear? What have they come to tell me? These thoughts stick with me all day and into my dreams, it has transcended from passion to obsession, allowing total integration of perception and expression.”
Richardson, who exhibits her work regularly on both the east and west coast, will be showing for the first time at RiverSea Gallery. She brings a collection of oil paintings that portray a masterful approach to technique as well as imagery. Her meticulously revealed metaphor plays well within the context of her dreamlike landscape, and sets the ground for the tales told by her characters. Each painting tells its own story, and through each layer of color and texture, slowly and with sensitivity, Richardson brings the tale to life.
Steve Eichenberger refers to himself as sculptor, yet that term seems limited in describing his artistic accomplishments. Perhaps the titles builder, engineer, architect and alchemist all contribute to the understanding of what is involved in the creation of each work of art. For Eichenberger, who works primarily in clay, the finished piece is the end result of a long developed process of “how to”. His obsession lies within the challenge to do what appears to be the impossible. While his imagery is strong, direct and uniquely profound, for Eichenberger it is not the crux of his drive and/or passion as an artist. His obsession lies in deciphering what needs to be developed to achieve the monumental sculpture he is known for.
With that being said, Eichenberger’s imagery cannot be taken lightly. When discussing his work, he states, “Sculpture is my attempt to combine desirable and/or necessary attributes for navigating our post–911 world into symbolic form. It’s a messy business trying to decide what’s “right”! For example, gentleness sounds good, but too much of it and tyrants will rule. Heroism sounds good, but what if the saved aren’t worthy of the hero’s sacrifice?” These are considerations of Eichenberger’s as he utilizes the three dimensional realm to convey the complex question of what it means to be human. He incorporates such things as massive musculature, impossible balance, direct meaningful gaze, the tension of posture, animal analogy, as well scale to reflect the delicate battle of balance within mankind, as an individual or a society. “I don’t mind looking strange to others as I struggle to concoct the optimum balance of attributes to ethically deal with today’s out-of-balance world. The privilege of being alive is so enormous that I don’t mind putting enormous effort into appreciating it, observing it, and reflecting on it…and I use sculpture to do so.”
A person who is obsessed may well not consider themselves to be. This has been the case for me. I've simply been going along what appeared in my sketchbook, trying to stay out of the way. And rabbit ears kept showing up. On everything.
The obsession's first project was the physical challenge of keeping tall ears from falling down in the wet clay stage. I propped and skewered and accepted whatever motley shapes I could get to stand up. The familiar inner response of "that's cool, but you can do better" compelled me to keep trying again, and again, to form the perfect pair of hare's ears. By "perfect" I don't mean anatomically correct, but rather a vivid, insistent inner vision I was compelled to replicate in reality.
I was/am mesmerized by the long slow curves, the tapering of the thickness of the clay, the ear shape's inherent structural integrity, the volume enclosed, the interaction of negative space between the ears, the flow of line from nose to eartip.
Dozens of iterations later, after developing better armatures and refining sculpting techniques, I have come much closer to matching that inner ideal of form/shape...and the obsession is vindicated as I draw my fingers along fired curves.
Just as romance can be diminished by over-analyzing, an obsession can dry up when exposed to light and air by rational critique. Is it even possible to purposely generate an obsession? wouldn't it then be a "pursuit"?
I experience strong right and left brain influences simultaneously. Too often this means my left brain heckles the right brain into submission. So I value a good obsession once in awhile. The trick is to look the other way and let it play out.
Obsess - Origin-late Middle English (in the sense [haunt, possess,] referring to an evil spirit); from Latin obsess- "besieged"
be obsessed - be fixated on/upon, be preoccupied with, be possessed by, be consumed with/by (thoughts of), have an obsession with; be infatuated with, be besotted with, be smitten with; informal have a thing about/for, be hung up about/on, have it bad for.
It starts with a thought or an idea...simple enough.
Then that thought creates an emotion.
That emotion intensifies and wants a way out of my head.
This is the point at which I start to experience my obsession.
The transition from thought to finished artwork is driven by a compulsion to express myself.
I can't seem to let go of that original thought until I see it transformed into something concrete.
This is a frustrating and exciting part of my creative process. I need to figure out how to communicate my thoughts and emotions without words.
At this point my hands need to do the talking and my brain has to give up to that process...not always an easy thing to do!
When my hands stop, I'm done.
I come out of my trance to discover the finished piece.
It really is a bit like magic!
My obsession is paint. The process of creating paintings comes out of this obsession, it is not so much the imagery that haunts me, the outcome of each piece, it is the journey getting there, the obsessive need to document daily the subtle changes of my life and perceptions. By beginning paintings without objection or direction, i allow the paint to lead me, letting the process of simply applying paint, with brush to canvas, lead me on a path of self discovery and honest, impulsive, reactions to each passing moment and change. This allows me to stay completely in the moment while i work, reacting to what the color, texture, and gesture of each stroke reveals to me. This reaction becomes a dialog between the developing work and my internal narrative, and it takes over my thoughts, my life. i obsess about the characters, why did they appear? what have them come to tell me? These thoughts stick with me all day and into my dreams, it has transcended from passion to obsession, allowing total integration of perception and expression.