Exhibit | Eye candy a sweet treat at Keny
past and present invite close look
For The Columbus
Dispatch Sunday May 5,
2013 5:28 AM
For centuries, artists have used the still life to explore the
aesthetic and thematic possibilities within thoughtful combinations of
Examples from the past 150 years are displayed in Keny Galleries
exhibits that connect historical Ohio still-life artists with Lowell Tolstedt,
one of the most celebrated modern practitioners of the genre.
Retired from the Columbus College of Art & Design, where he
taught for 38 years and served as a department chairman and dean of fine arts,
Tolstedt has been a frequent contributor to shows at the college and other
institutions locally and nationally.
“Lowell Tolstedt: Recent Works” celebrates his 30-year
relationship with Keny Galleries.
Working mainly in colored pencil, he applies his marks in light
layers to build depth of color and dimension without flattening the subtle
surface texture of the watercolor paper on which he paints. Fascinated by
translucence and reflection, he has found a perfect showcase for such
qualities in lollipops, gumdrops and other colorful candy.
Composition With 7 Lollipops,
for example, presents the delicacy of the artist’s line work in the
imperfections in his subject’s surfaces — the pockmarks and mold lines left by
the manufacturing process — and the light shadows that separate his white
lollipop sticks from a slightly darker backdrop. Taking in their exquisitely
rendered forms, one might find that visual appreciation is accompanied by an
awakening of the salivary glands.
With more traditional still-life subjects, such as cherries and
apples, Tolstedt illustrates his command of silverpoint and goldpoint —
unforgiving mediums that require a clean line and a confident hand.
Compositions with signs of growing life are included as well —
such as Sprouting Redbud With Sky, in which the artist conveys the
promise of a perfect summer day in one budding branch against a clear azure
Works from the 19th and 20th centuries fill the second
exhibition, “Historic Ohio Still Lifes.”
Among the highlights are the wonderfully quirky Still Life
by Henry Church, previously seen in last year’s “Outside in Ohio” exhibition
at the Riffe Gallery, and Emerson Burkhart’s Engine from 1947. There,
the artist’s dense, gritty paint application lends propulsive energy to a view
of pistons and wires at rest.
Most intriguing is a small selection of trompe l’oeil
works from the mid- to late 19th century in which everyday items appear on
canvases painted to look like natural wood. Along with a common style and
presentation, they share an unusually modern feel for the era, and each is
attributed to DeScott Evans.
But because the signatures on the individual pieces don’t match —
“Stanley S. David” signed the painting Apples, for instance — art
historians are still debating more than a century later whether the artist
worked under multiple pseudonyms or just had a devoted copycat.