RECENT WORK BY TIM LEFENS Jane Sandelin Gallery. You’ve heard about the artist, innovator and author Tim Lefens. We are excited to present his work as our featured artist for our spring show. Tim Lefens…where to start? His life, his work, his accomplishments to say nothing of his challenges make me struggle with just that – where to start!
His exhibit opens on March 23, 2012 at Art Works in Richmond, Virginia. Come early at 6:30 p.m. to listen to Tim share his “stories from the art world”, followed by a reception with refreshments and music that is a collection assembled by Tim that will be an extension of the feelings of the paintings.
At the exhibit, you can expect to see Lefens’ painterly-abstract expressionist paintings in monochrome colors, in unique shapes with texture that provides ever-evolving changes depending on the light, weather and conditions surrounding the artwork.
TIM LEFENS RECENT WORK
Now, about this remarkable man and artist: You must meet him. Whatever I say here is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Let’s start with Artistic Realization Technologies (A.R.T).
A.R.T is a program developed by Tim Lefens that provides the “tools and techniques that allow for un-compromised self-expression to severely challenged individuals. These individuals “have never walked, rarely if ever spoken, and have little or no practical use of their fingers”. Under Tim’s creative guidance the nonprofit organization based in Belle Meade, New Jersey has expanded to locations in Arizona, Florida, New York and most recently at Art Works in Richmond, Virginia. A.R.T. is a story in and of itself. You can learn more about A.R.T. at www.artrealization.org and through Lefens’ award winning book Flying Colors available at Art Works Gallery, online and in major bookstores throughout the country.
We’ll leave it at that because the exhibit at Art Works and stories you’ll hear are about Lefens’ own challenges, victories, processes and artwork.
Lefens has had many successes in the art world.
He studied at VCU where he received his BFA and did his graduate work at Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts. His paintings have been featured in numerous Manhattan galleries including Brooke Alexander, Farah Damji and 420 West Broadway. Lefens is a recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Award for Painting. His key mentors include: the pre-eminent art critic/writer Clement Greenberg; art historian Sam Hunter, Prof. Emeritus Princeton University, the author of ‘Modern Art’ and the painter Roy Lichtenstein, with whom he has a thirty-five year friendship and who provided the seed grant to establish A.R.T.
And although very successful, he also has had his own challenges,
a condition known as RP (retinitis pigmentosa). This condition affects dark adaptation and the peripheral visual field. Because of RP, Lefens cannot see color. But Lefens is good at adapting. With fifty years of painting experience in the cells of his body and an integral part of his mind, Lefens is totally confident in his work, in his studio and his processes. He has assistants who mix color under his direction, which he sees “clearly in his minds eye’. All the other processes for his work are performed by Lefens.
Lefens says that if he were not completely satisfied with his artwork, he would not continue and if anything he feels his work has gotten even better. One of his collectors, James A. Johnson says:
"His new work is the best he's made in the thirty years I've been looking at his paintings.”
Here are some questions I put to Tim and his comments that will shed light on the exhibit, how it came to be and Tim’s processes.
AW: How would you describe the exhibit?
TL: The paintings are “painterly abstractions”. Each painting is: a single color monochrome, is rooted in a color field, is abstract expressionism and an action painting. All the paintings are on uniquely shaped stretchers that I custom built.
AW: What would people expect to see at the exhibit?
TL: A lot of different colors, different approaches to moving the acrylic (i.e. the ‘drawing’). I think the paintings cover a wide range of feelings: from quiet and lyrical to all out aggression. Each painting explores a way to get to a feeling without words.
AW: What materials do you use?
TL: The paintings are acrylic on canvas. Two of the paintings have sand in them, but the rest are pure acrylic.
AW: And sizes?
TL: The little paintings that will hand on the narrow walls (in the gallery) are around a foot or so by a foot or so. Then the sizes jump up from 48”x48” to 48”x76”.
AW: What about the colors?
TL: The colors range from pure gold, to iridescent patinas over gray, to plain buff color, iron oxide, graphite, opalescent and more.
AW: Tell us about your processes:
TL: I cut a sheet of luan veneer into the shape. Sometimes I cut it quickly, with a saw, with no preliminary drawing. Sometimes I lay out subtle curving guide sticks before cutting the shape. When the shape is satisfactory I build the stretcher frame from numerous short blocks of wood so the blocks can follow the curve of the luan. These blocks are glued and nailed. A strip of luan is glued and nailed to the side face of the now complete stretcher. I then stretch the frames with No. 12 unprimed cotton duck canvas. Using the sheet of luan not only allows me to carve the shape in a way that feels like intuitive drawing, but the luan allows a ton of acrylic gel to be poured on it. The painting is on its back, looking up from the studio floor and can accept the massive amount of acrylic gel without the canvas bowing.
When the thick layer of acrylic is distributed over the face of the canvas, I use homemade tools to draw over the surface. Some of these tools are pretty funky looking. One is a 7' comb made of short broken chunks of wood. One is huge homemade brush that looks like an octopus on the end of a pole. None of the paintings so far have been painted with a normal artist's brush.
Colors are chosen when I see/feel, the feeling the painting's drawing/surface, is suggesting.. Sometimes the drawing surface works with the shape and sometimes it works independently of it.
AW: Are there unexpected surprises that come from your process?
TL: The paintings will change forever. Those who own paintings similar to these for the Art Works’ show report deep satisfaction with how every change in weather or time of day subtly affects the painting. Because the surfaces are fairly deep, they cast their own little shadows and catch light in a way a flat painting does not. So, although each painting has a singular feel to it, at the same time it is always subtly changing with the light.
AW: Tell us about your support team? What functions do they perform?
TL: I have the lumber and art materials delivered to my studio. I shape the stretchers, which requires fairly intense carpentry. I stretch the canvases. I blend the big vats of acrylic gel to get the right consistency. I apply it to the canvas. I take an application tool I've made and swish it through the field of gel. I have a clear feeling of what I'm after with the movement of the tool. I get a feeling for what color the painting should be. This is when a studio assistant enters the process. I sit with them as they blend the color. I give them suggestive imagery the color should suggest. When they have the color right, sometimes I apply it, sometimes they do. Since the painting is all one color its not that hard for me to coat it.
My assistants help me help me wrap the paintings, cart them around, set them up for the photographer.
The only thing that currently eludes my total control is color. But I see it very, very clearly in my head, so guide the assistant with exactness. When a painting is done I have various friends look at it and tell me how it is affecting them, what the single feel of the painting is. Sometimes these reviews will drive me to recolor the painting. Key Largo was initially a cool white with a hint of blue gray, then it was pure black, then it was pure gold, which is where it will remain.
Sometimes paintings that don't seem strong will get a total recoat of thick gel. No one makes the stretcher shapes or does the acrylic 'drawing' of the gel other than me. Since I've been painting seriously since I was a little kid, it feels natural and good to work the way I currently do. I wish I could see the color, but I really do feel it very clearly in my mind's eye. So the end product is fully satisfying to me.
I would never paint if I felt I was groping. The feeling in the studio is total confidence.
I would never think of painting if I were born blind, or if I were blind and didn't have fifty years of painting experience in the cells of my body, part of my mind.
Tim Lefens’ exhibit at Art Works is scheduled for March 23, – April 22, 2012. The public is invited to meet the artist and hear him speak about “stories from the art world” at 6:30 p.m. on March 23rd followed by a reception from 7 pm – 10 p.m.
Check out this video of Tim's work in our Jane Sandelin Gallery :
RICHMOND by Tara Courtland Centre Gallery East. "Tara Courtland is a Richmond native and refuses to leave because she can’t imagine living in a place that doesn’t feature Confederate generals and Arthur Ashe peacefully coexisting on the same avenue. She prefers photographing the city while lying facedown on the pavement – everything just looks better from that angle."
WATERSIDE by Bill Harrison Centre Gallery West.
PUSH, PULL: A Collection of Paintings and Prints by Tiffany R. Floyd Corner Gallery. Floyd is a graduate student currently enrolled in the Master of Interdisciplinary Studies in Art Program at Virginia Commonwealth University. The works featured in this show were created during her studies and are process-driven. "I experimented with literal and implied space. The prints are from a collection of collagraphs, woodcuts, foam prints, and silkscreen prints. The paintings were created using acrylics."
EARTH DAY RECYCLE ART SHOW Skylight Gallery. This is the third annual art show at Art Works honoring Earth Day. Artists are asked to submit artwork that is made from recycled items. Submissions are open to all artists. Call for entries is March 16th and 17th. This is a juried show with prizes. A portion of the proceeds from sales goes to greening Manchester.
MARCH ALL MEDIA SHOW Each month Art Works offers artists from all over to participate in a juried art show. Marjorie Perrin will jury the show. Submissions are accepted from any artist and any medium. Call for Entries is on March 16th and 17th. See our Call For Entries page to learn more.
About the Juror: Marjorie Perrin"Marjorie Perrin has been painting and teaching in Richmond,Virginia since 1985. She graduated with honors from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1984 and received awards for landscape painting in oil and figurative work in watercolor. She has been awarded two fellowships to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She studied at the Art Students League of New York,and Virginia Commonwealth University. She has studied privately with portrait artists Cedric Egeli and Joanette Egeli.
Marjorie has been teaching at The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Studio School since 1989. She has also taught at The Visual Arts Center of Richmond, John Tyler Community College and the Torres School of Sculpture. She lives in Richmond with her husband Parke Smith and their two sons Zane and Nate.
Galleries in Richmond where her work has been exhibited include: Crossroads Art Center, The Artworks Gallery, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Studio School, The Anderson Gallery, The Cramer Center Gallery, The Eric Schindler Gallery, The Christian Brydon Gallery, The Lodan Gallery, The Florence Gallery, The Richmond Center, and The Bank of America Gallery. Her works are included in numerous private and corporate collections in Richmond including: The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, C.S.X. Corporation, E.R. Carpenter Corp., The Medical College of Virginia, Mutual Assurance and Media General.
Galleries outside of Richmond where her work has been exhibited include: The McBride Gallery, Annapolis, Maryland; The Ivy Gallery, Charlottesville, VA; The Amos Eno Gallery, New York, New York; The Pandion Gallery, Fishers Island, New York. The Portsmouth Museum, Portsmouth, VA and The Museum of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts." -Perrin's website
All images are the property of the artists and may not be duplicated without permission. Contact Art Works, Inc. 804 291.1400 in Richmond, Virginia U.S.A. for more information or if you wish to seek permission for use of images.
The Secret Life of Stucco,81x24, acrylic on canvas, 2012 by Tim Lefens
Canal Walk, Photograph Tara Courtland
Photograph by Bill Harrison
Acrylic Painting by Tiffany Floyd
Earth Day Show 1st Place:
To Everything There is a Season by Marta Downs, Handmade Paper and Styrafoam, $250/ea, $950/set
Earth Day Show 2nd Place: From The Dunes by Susan Cary. Recycled Paper, Palette Paper and Styrofoam, $50
1st Place: Ochre Lamps by John A. Lee, 30x40 Oil on Linen, $1,000
2nd Place: Rust World by Danny Trent 30x60 Acrylic, $2,000
Third Place: Under the Pines by Susan Cary, 36x48 Acrylic and Oil Stick, $500
Honorable Mention: Village Girl in South Africa by Renee King 20x17 Oil, $900
Honorable Mention: Sebastian by Teresa Armstrong 16x20 Conte Crayon, $250
Photography Award: Morning Shadows by Mickey Murphy 22x18 Digital Photography $135