Poetry of Content: Five Representational Artists

2016 poetry of content joel sheesly man on a journey 300

November 5, 2016 - February 19, 2017

Sponsored by:

2016 First National Bank


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An examination of contemporary representational drawing, painting, and printmaking, this exhibition features the work of artists connected by a shared fascination with representing their worlds: Bill Murphy, Gillian Pederson-Krag, Joel Sheesley, Tim Lowly, and Robert Birmelin

Featuring more than 45 pieces of original artwork, a variety of imagery is on view, showing realistic visual space, figures, and natural surroundings by artists who explore places visited, scenes imagined, landscapes and interior scenes, and modelled figures. Curated by painter and Syracuse University art professor Jerome Witkin, Poetry of Content celebrates artists who share his interest.

"These five artists continue to hone to perfection a body of work that I feel will last beyond our time," he says, adding, "These mature creators continue, regardless of the neglect of museums and critics, to persevere."

Organized by the Syracuse University Art Collection. We thank our exhibition sponsor: First National Bank

Shown: Joel Sheesley, Man on a Journey, 1995, oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist

About the artists

Bill Murphy (American, b. 1952) has explored and pictured areas of greater New York, including Staten Island--where he's found special inspiration in a ships graveyard; and Richmond Terrace, a serpentine road filled with run-down hotels, liquor stores, churches, and brothels. Murphy has said they "Hold some kind of standing in my personal mythology of secret and sacred places.

Gillian Pederson-Krag
(American, b. 1938) attended Rhode Island School of Design where the mode of her peers and faculty was primarily abstraction. Joining in made her feel like an impostor. In her senior year, she came across an old canvas with areas of purple and green. After nearly discarding it, she realized its potential as a landscape, and was redirected towards realism and rejuvenated as an artist.

Joel Sheesley (American, b. 1950) began his career as an abstract painter, but switched to realism believing it offered the best way for him to truthfully respond to the world around him. He has said that everything in the world has a story and narratives best told through representational painting.

Robert Birmelin (American, b.1933) attended Yale University School of Art when Josef Albers chaired the Department of Design. After drawing classes with Bernard Chayet, printmaking classes with Gabor Peterdi, study at London's Slade School and the American Academy in Rome, he became intrigued with how the eye determined what elements to pick out in a complex compositional field. He began painting groups of people in which a central figure dissolved against others more sharply delineated, and reversible compositions: canvases with multiple, overlapping subjects that can be viewed in different orientations.

Tim Lowly (American, b. 1958) spent most of his childhood in South Korea, returning to the states to attend Michigan's Calvin College, and graduating with a multimedia BFA. In 1985 his daughter Temma was born and soon had a cardiac arrest leading to brain damage. Since then Temma has been the sole subject of Lowly's work.