Saturday, January 28 through Saturday, March 4
Oxford's first exhibit of 2017 brings together Barbara Fox, one of western New York's finest watercolorists, and Ray Hassard, one of the nations best known pastellists. Entitled Confluence, the exhibit begins on Saturday, January 28 and continues through Saturday, March 4. A reception for the event is planned for Saturday, February 4 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. It is open to the public.
Barbara Fox is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society and the International Guild of Realism.. Her work has appeared in museums and exhibitions throughout the United States and has been published in three editions of the watercolor publication Splash: The Best of Watercolor Painting. She has been the featured artist in leading national magazines such as American Artist and Watercolor Magic. A superb draughtsman, Barbara is also a designer for the United States Mint, with 20 of her designs having been minted as coins or medals.
Although Barbara has been fashioned a "still life painter" and her style has been called "representational," such labels go little way toward describing her art or its appeal to the thoughtful connoisseur. Whatever the objects of her artistic intention - be they things on a table or elements of a landscape - they quickly lose their identity as natural facts and become vehicles for aesthetic exploration. Her 'real' subjects are invariably light, color, pattern, and their interplay. Hers is a fascination with light, as it passes through translucent objects, as it reflects color and shape, and as it changes our perception of what is before us. In her paintings, we gain a sense that the things depicted are only as real as the medium through which we perceive them. As such, Barbara's art is a subtle exploration of the nature of artifice itself. It is an art that continually examines itself.
Cincinnati artist Ray Hassard surely ranks among the nation's finest painters in pastel, although, like Barbara Fox, he also paints in oil. The artist has been profiled and his work routinely featured in such prestigious publications as Pastel Journal, Plein Air, and American Art Collector. He has received numerous awards and prizes, and in 2013, he received Pastel Journal's Gold medal of Excellence. In 2014 he was given Master Circle status by the International Association of Pastel Societies.
During a recent exhibit of Hassard's work, one Gallery patron was overheard to comment "He must surely be a happy man." Hassard's paintings indeed exude a joie de vivre that could hardly be the product of a morose temperament. The artist normally crams the pictorial space with objects and figures, none of which are so sufficiently defined as to allow our eye to stop moving. The surfaces sparkle in their brilliance, and his broken and overlapping colors suggest a depth and texture to the paint surface itself. But the exuberance we feel in Hassard's paintings results mainly from the attitude the artist forces us to assume toward his subject matter.
The viewer cannot maintain his/her distance from the subject but must become a witness or spectator. We watch as Hassard's subjects go about the business of life, and we relish their dedication to simple tasks. Often, we watch others in the act of watching. The cropping of images at sides or bottom, the foreshortenings, and the unusual perspectives reinforce the sense that we are viewing a mere segment selected from life's continuum. The exuberance one feels in viewing one of Ray's paintings has nothing of the glorious or contrived. It is the simple joy of finding meaning right under our noses.