Artist Profiles

John Baeder
"Pepsi" 2001
oil on canvas
24 x 36 inches (60.96 x 91.44 cm)

		Various facets of life become vehicles for liberating the soul.

		When I was five years old I began traveling with my parents and sister to Chicago by train. From Chicago 
		we went to South Bend, Indiana by inter--urban transit. The "South Shore" which historically was the last 
		inter-urban train to run in America, ceased operation in the early seventies. These trains provided the 
		stimulus of visual ecstasy. This was the beginning of early sensory experiences that immersed themselves 
		deep into my unconscious, later on providing seeds for the conscious, and they then blossomed and 
		became art.

		On the train the dining car was more than just an eating locale, it was compounded with the fulfillment of 
		looking out the window of our "drawing room" and soaking in the countryside and the backyards of small 
		towns and communities. For my tiny tender eye, these were paintings, framed by large windows. My first 
		museum.

		During the same early period, due to housing shortages we lived in a hotel for six months. Across from the 
		"Biltmore" in Atlanta, Georgia was the "Majestic". It was an eatery with a counter, but not a diner in the 
		traditional, pure, bonafide sense. It had short stools and I was enthralled sitting on those stools with all the 
		grown-ups and was more thrilled by observing with complete and clear amazement the choreography of the 
		counter-man preparing food so swiftly on the grill in front of me. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the twists 
		and turns of the wrist flipping burgers and flopping toast; the opening and closing of the polished metal 
		doors; and of course the magical one-hand-egg-breaking routine. I loved it all. It was entertainment in a 
		spiritual area I knew nothing about. More visual joy for the little boy and his beginning sensibilities that were 
		later redefined and redistributed on canvas.

		I am concerned with process: the revelation of a particular and poignant part of the urban landscape, and 
		thus the preservation of a unique and rapidly disappearing icon of American roadside culture. (Take from 
		culture in one dimension and contribute back in another dimension.) A significant aspect of the process is 
		the quest, which basically is the transformation of documented archaeological findings,travel, investigation 
		and gathering of material. The painting is the mere act of transcendence, an end product that enters space 
		and time; the final leg of the quest.

		John Baeder, 2000

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Muriel Castanis
"Mercy" 1997
epoxy and cloth
40 x 19 x 16 inches (101.5 x 48 x 40.5 cm)


		Consider how we accept cloth only in relation to firmer structures, be the object a chair, table, grouping of 
		boxes or even human form. 'Freezing' the cloth with resins enables me to remove these distractions, giving 
		the cloth a separate reality. In this state the fabric not only describes the subject but transforms it with the 
		unique personality its own character contributes.

		The technique I have invented to create this is achieved by immersing cloth with epoxy and draping it wet 
		over a chosen form. When hardened and the form removed, the objects' suggested persona resides within 
		the void and the surface folds become sole focus.

		Muriel Castanis, 2000

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Robert Ginder
"Purple" 2001
oil and gold leaf on wood
31 x 23.75 inches (78.74 x 60.32 cm)

	
		There are two different subjects I concentrate on in my painting. One represents a focus on the "home", in 
		particular the California bungalow style. This Mediterranean motif parallels our own Greco-Roman based 
		culture and these neighborhoods are filled with architectural versions of our other historical relatives. The 
		second subject is still-life painting. In the still-life, I have succumbed to the temptation of examining a subject 
		so old and so ubiquitous to painting, that it seems almost absurd. Yet it is endearing and timeless. In both 
		styles I utilize the gold-leaf background and the Byzantine style in order to add a layer of veneration to the 
		thematic minimalism.

		In the secular context of modern American society, the strength of the symbol of "home" and the idea of 
		"private property" are quite relevant. So, its recurring use in my work is similar to the use of recurring themes 
		in their 13th and 14th century religious counterparts. In selecting an appropriate symbol for "home", I chose a 
		specific type which I grew up seeing in California, instead of a general style of house. "Specificity" is more 
		personal, like "home".

		In my still-life paintings, I want to infuse the subject with more of it's traditional meaning; "hyper-traditional", 
		but not ironic. I want to bring out the simplicity, the sense of time and equanimity. The large scale helps to 
		emphasize the subject's inherent qualities. It is meant to contemporize it by giving a cinematic size and 
		splendor. It also physically makes the fruit "juicier" and more "bountiful" simply by virtue of it's size. 

		Anachronism is very much a part of both projects. A modern "scene" painted slowly on panel with oil paint 
		and a gold leaf background, reminiscent of the 14th century is about both time past and time spent. The 
		subject, in both motif's, is not only the objects depicted, but our own roles as well: the epicure, the 
		husbandman, the receiver of a bounty, the house-holder, the handyman. And it depicts the moment as a time 
		for enjoyment, thanks, wonder, puzzlement and contemplation. In all my paintings, there is an element of age 
		and a use of early painting styles in order to create a venerable artifact. This serves to elicit a respect for a 
		subject matter that ordinarily we would see as mundane, so that we can re-examine the everyday in a 
		different light.

		Robert Ginder, 2000
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Keung Szeto
"Fall" - 1997 to 1998
acrylic, lace, fabric burlap on linen
25 x 34.25 inches (63.5 x 87 cm)


		Swallows return, How many times of wind and rain can they enjoy?
		Sun sets in silence, Alas, the beauty of the landscape disappearing!

		The above is a couplet composed by Liang Qi-Shao from classical poetic lines of the Sung Dynasty. Szeto
		Keung includes it in the description of his solo show. One cannot help to speculate if he intended to lead the
		 audience to view his work with those poetic sentiments in mind.

		If one views Szeto Keung's paintings in the most simple way, one may not be able to capture, feel, and 
		understand all the nuances, embedded symbols and sentiments. However each viewing is very much like a 
		decoding process which brings one closer to the depth and richness of the inner meanings of his works.

		His paintings invite special scrutiny and careful study. On the surface, these paintings reflect the delicate 
		"flowers and beauties mirrored in the stream." On a deeper level, it is actually very much the representation 
		and expression of the soul of the artist himself. How can art be art without the artist?

		For the artist, the nostalgic feelings for his cultural roots become the powerful sources of his artistic creation. 
		He seeks to rebuild his "soul identity." The artist seems to amend what is lacking in the real world through 
		his contemplation and creation. Szeto Keung daringly rearranges the landscape and objects in Chinese 
		poetry with an intriguing combination of highly realistic techniques and an extreme subtlety. As a result, the 
		audience cannot help wondering whether he is mourning or resurrecting the past. The floating rootless 
		flowers on his canvas symbolize not only the tragedy of life, but also the everlasting evidence of beauty in the 
		universe. All this touches the audience as a form of catharsis.

		For Szeto Keung, human life constantly hangs between "the known" and "the unknown" with a strong sense 
		of uncertainty. In one's inner world, sometimes one persists; sometimes one loses; sometimes one searches; 
		and sometimes one wanders. It is a constant struggle. Thus one's life is often shaped and built while striving 
		for the unobtainable.

		No matter if it is a little piece of masking tape, a sharp leaf of gladiolus, a soft and curling feather, a fluttering 
		butterfly, or a simple envelope, Szeto Keung demonstrates his amazing artistic skills to paint realistically as 
		well as interpretively. Underlying this superrealism is a sighing melancholy, manifested in a form of dejected 
		beauty, just like the sunset in silence and swallows braving through the rain and wind.

		And yet. Szeto Keung is an active creator and a successful artist.

		Excerpt by Ming Jean C. Loh
		Translated by Xu Di

		Keung Szeto

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David Giese
"The Presentation of the Dauphin to Charles I and Marie de' Medici" 1997
(Excavated from the Villa Bitricci in 1997)
concrete, flotage, mixed media
62 x 48 x 13 inches (157.5 x 122 x 33 cm)

	
		"History is a combination of reality and lies. The reality of history becomes a lie. The unreality of the fable 
		becomes the truth."
		-Jean Cocteau

		The Villa Bitricci never existed. It is a fictitious place. The site and all the artifacts supposedly found there 
		arose from the studio and imagination of artist David Giese.

		While Giese's on-going project Excavations from the Villa Bitricci is a lie, it is a lie with a distinguished 
		purpose. As Picasso noted about art in general, these fabricated ruins do reveal a certain truth. They provide 
		insight into that perplexing series of styles, monuments and personalities known collectively as "western 
		civilization."

		Giese's work belongs to that current style known as postmodernism. Arising first in architecture in the 1970's 
		as a response to reductive, formalist trends in modern art and design, postmodernism broadened art's 
		scope of reference by using historical paraphrase, irony, and parody. One key strategy of postmodernism is 
		appropriation, the conscious borrowing of pre-existing images. Giese appropriates the grand tradition of 
		classical art to reflect on its relevance for our time.

		It is fitting that the Villa Bitricci is named for Dante's great love. Giese's work argues for an art based not just 
		on intellect but on emotions and passion. His imagery is visual, visceral and sensuous. These interiors 
		combine the crude and the refined, the tawdry and the sublime, the sacred and the profane, all for the 
		purpose of giving visual pleasure. To Giese, aesthetic experience is foremost a celebration of the senses.

		Nostalgia is vital to this project. The villa stands as a paradigm for cultural memory. Part of its allure is based 
		on the fact that it was continually inhabited. In our transient culture, where people move constantly, the idea of 
		a home that endured for centuries is a romantic dream, a comfort-ing image of stability.

		Giese's choice of an Italian villa was far from arbitrary. The structure reflects two eras-Ancient Rome and the 
		Renaissance-which are remote in time, but are similar in many ways to our own. One may even argue that 
		our contemporary society was founded upon these cultures.

		Giese uses the forms of classical European art to address a perplexing phenomenon in our own Iate 
		industrial society: the loss of contact with the real. Postmodern theorist Jean Baudrillard has argued that in 
		contemporary culture, media has become so powerful and pervasive that people no longer experience 
		reality directly; we are conditioned to see everything as a manipulated image, as a simulation. Giese's 
		simulated archeology turns the classical past into a grand theatrical display.

		David Giese is a professor of art and chairman of the Department of Art at the University of Idaho. He 
		received his B.S. and B.A. degrees from Mankato State University in Minnesota and his M.F.A. from the 
		University of Arizona in Tucson. He has taught at the University of Arizona and Alverno College in Wisconsin, 
		and was artist-in-residence at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

		Excerpt from: Michael Zakian, Director  of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art

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R.E. Penner
"Amarillo Side Street" - 2001
acrylic on illustration board
7.75 x 13.25 inches (19.68 x 33.65 cm)

              
		I take my subject matter from photographs of ordinary sights in small Texas towns. The houses, and more 
		recently street scenes, first presented themselves out of convenience. I wanted to spend most of my time 
		painting, not driving around photographing for weeks at a time. The tract houses were everywhere and upon 
		further observation, contained interesting visual information worth exploring.

		Each painting begins by carefully transferring the image to the canvas. Using cibachrome prints as reference, 
		I divide the painting into small sections, bringing each area to a finish before proceeding to the next. The 
		entire process usually requires two to four months of full time work. The resulting painting should present an 
		objective, photojournalistic view of small town America.

		R.E. Penner 2000

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