35 Artists, April 2010

Opening April 5, 5-8 pm


Scott Debus and Julio Cotto from Scoop Studios, Kevin LePrince from Wells Gallery, Kirsten Moran, Rob Harrell, Leslie Pratt-Thomas, Charles Williams, John Duckworth …

About the Exhibit

Black and white: The racial dividing line; classics of timeless elegance; good and evil

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Ambitios show makes profound statment with brush strokes
By Olivia Pool, Post and Courier

Black and white: The racial dividing line; classics of timeless elegance; good and evil.

The list goes on.

Robert and Megan Lange, owners of Robert Lange Studios, have been hosting an annual group show for the past few years.

Last year, the Langes chose the theme of “Yellow vs. Blue.” The artists and the public loved the color idea and, they said, the show was a great success.

So, the Langes decided to do it again, this time with “Black vs. White.” Black and white come loaded with their own societal implications and connotations. They aren’t even allowed in the rainbow.

More than 30 artists were asked to come up with a pair of paintings that exemplified their own interpretations on the “Black vs. White” theme.

The result is much more than paintings colored in either black or white. The paintings were thought-provoking, most with profound meanings interjected into the paint strokes.

Robert Lange said that “many of the artists expressed how comfortable they were creating one of the pieces and how challenged they were trying to make its partner piece.”

He made a statement about technology vs. nature with one of his painting pairs fashioned after Rene Magritte’s famous “This is Not a Pipe.”

“This is Not an Orchid” was of a trompe l’oeil iPhone with an image of an orchid on the screen, and beside it was “This is Also Not an Orchid,” a trompe l’oeil version of an orchid stem and flower.

The excitement of everyone involved was contagious.

“There’s a natural pressure and excitement that revolves around a show of this size,” said Robert Lange. “Artists try to make their most creative works for group shows, knowing these paintings are going to hang next to 30 of their peers all trying to do the same thing.”

Nathan Durfee said he was particularly excited to see work from local artists that are not normally seen, like Karen Silvestro and Erik Johnson.

Karen Silvestro

Karen Silvestro made a strong societal statement with her symbolic paintings called “Open” and “Closed.”

In each piece, the female is not a true woman but a doll placed in a stage setting, indicating that she is not the one in control of herself.

In “Closed,” a controlling hand holds the strings to a marionette of an Islamic woman completely covered in a burka, yet still trying to cover herself even more on her bare stage.

In “Open,” a hand pulls the opulent curtains back to show a nude, exposed, “perfect” Barbie, proudly standing center stage, surrounded by glitz and glamour. Upon closer observation, you’ll see there is a noose in the corner, signifying that even those whose lives seem “perfect” are not always truly happy.

Nathan Durfee

One pair of Nathan Durfee’s paintings showed an interesting way of interpreting the vegetarian vs. carnivore argument. The cheerful black bear in “Bob Finds the Last Blueberries” is delicately placing blueberries on a stick.

The solemn white bear in “Peter Waits for the Last Seal” is holding a knife and looking among the glaciers for his dinner.

I must say that Bob looks much happier than Peter.

Gary Grier

Gary Grier painted “Slumber” and “Awake.”

In “Slumber,” an older African-American man is sleeping peacefully on a leather couch.

In “Awake,” an old white man has an extremely unnerving and uncomfortable expression on his face as he frantically grasps at the bed sheets.

Susan Harrell

The candy and fruit paintings were done by Susan Harrell.

“Time of Greed” is a delicious still-life painting full of candy, and “Time of Need” is another still life, but of various fruits.

Harrell apparently had mentioned to Megan Lange that she had thought of titling them “Good vs. Evil” but couldn’t figure out which would go with which.

Amy Lind

Amy Lind uses a pair of comedy and tragedy masks.

“Hanging by a Thread” depicts a black tragedy mask that is literally “hanging by a thread.” And since tragedy is typically more complex, there is also an old photograph, a postcard and a key in the painting.

The companion piece, “Sitting Pretty” is the white comedy mask and a simple red rose.

Erik Johnson

There were many pairs that simply stood their ground, such as the one by newcomer Erik Johnson, “Chaos Theory” and “Ritual.”

These two renditions of blue paint in a clear glass and white background, and white paint in a clear glass with a black background showed that this is one artist to watch.

Cast your vote

Following last weekend’s opening, the gallery had artists and patrons take the buttons that depict which color they think had a stronger showing. So far, ‘white’ is in the lead. Stop in this month to see the show and share your opinion.

More Press: BLACK vs WHITE
60 Works • 30 Artists • 2 Colors • 1 Gallery
February 5 – February 28, 2010

Thirty artists invite patrons to join in the jaunty spirit of fervent artistic debate when Robert Lange Studios presents its annual group invitational, Black vs White, on February 5 from 5:30-9PM. The participating artists have been asked to create two pieces of equal size, one focusing on the color or theme black and the other focusing on the color or theme white.

The annual group show at Robert Lange Studios has been developed to connect artists from the Charleston area and across the country. Artists will present their best work, not medium specific, in Robert Lange Studios’ 2 Queen Street gallery space. Included in the show are a number of guest artists, including Scott Debus and Julio Cotto from Scoop Studios, Kevin LePrince from Wells Gallery, Kirsten Moran, Rob Harrell, Charles Williams, John Duckworth, Lisa Shimko, Leslie Pratt-Thomas, Kenton James, Patrick Pelletier, Michael Porten, Mickey Williams, Susan Harrell, Jonathan Brilliant, Tiffany Sage, Kristy Bishop, Jeffrey Lange, Erik Johnson, Karin Olah, Gary Grier, and Karen Silvestro. All of Robert Lange Studios’ artists will be creating new work for the show, including Ali Cavanaugh, Megan Aline, Robert Lange, Nathan Durfee, Kerry Brooks, Jessica Dunegan, Fred Jamar, Michael Moran, Amy Lind, Adam Hall, Joshua Flint, Sean Clancy, and JB Boyd.

The works in Black vs White aren’t just juxtaposed pieces exploring two colors but celebrations of the unique techniques that are unpredictable, distinctive and beautiful, employed by each individual artist.

All of the artists chosen for the show are active fine art painters and sculptors. To qualify for the show, each artist submitted one to two pieces that represent their stylistic approach to art.

“Last year the Yellow vs Blue show pushed artists to work within a specific color range, although most of the artists felt comfortable with these colors,” says gallery owner and artist Robert Lange. “This year Black vs White will create an even greater challenge, as color is an integral part of nearly all of the artists’ work and many never find black on their palettes.”

Landscape painter Charles Williams was especially out of his element when asked to engage this monochromatic theme. Traditionally creating vibrant marshscapes, his paintings for this show, titled “Breaking Point,” are hyper-realistic works with paint dribbling down the lower end of the canvas. In one piece the sky and water is dark and ominous and in the other, bright and inviting.
Familiar to Robert Lange Studios, painter Nathan Durfee, a narrative nonconformist who creates surreal storylines, has paired a black bear that wants to be a panda bear with a white pony wishing to be a zebra, in “Robert dreams of Exotica” and “Bob Dreams of Exotica.”

Host Robert Lange created two trompe l’oeil works. The first piece titled “This is Not an Orchid” is of a taped-up iphone displaying not just the time and date but a background wallpaper of an orchid. The second work titled “This is Also Not an Orchid” depicts an actual orchid taped to the surface of the panel. The realist works sit on top of the panel fooling patrons with their shadows and barely visible brushstrokes.

Faced with the black verses white challenge, painter Joshua Flint, who was recently on the cover of Southwest Art Magazine, painted two solitary buildings. Flint’s paintings are normally filled with a yellowish glowing light but these most recent works have been drained of their color, transforming the subjects into haunting and romantic structures.

Art Magazine: Black vs. White: The Final Showdown!

88 paintings. 35 artists. 2 colors. 1 gallery.

We are floating in a sea of paintings!_ says Robert Lange of Robert Lange Studios. RLS started having their annual group show in 2005. Since then, the shows have grown exponentially, not only in the number of works but also the artists’_ and the public’_s enthusiasm. This year, they are continuing with their color theme. Last year, it was blue vs. yellow and this year, black and white enter the ring.

Robert is excited about the variety of artists involved. There are people from all over the country, like Joshua Flint and Jonathan Brilliant; people they_ve borrowed from other local galleries like Julio Cotto and Kevin LePrince; and people who are new art stars like Karen Silvestro and Erik Johnson. Of course, there are all the usual uber-talented cats from RLS, and tons more. It_’s a ridiculously awesome list!

The gallery has some special extras planned too. On Friday night, all guests will cast votes on either Black or White and there will be a reigning color! They_ve made 400 buttons to give away, each depicting one of the paintings. There will also be 50 hand screen-printed posters made by Seth Deitch and designed by Jeff Lange.

All of the artists will be dressed in either black or white, and the public is encouraged to do the same. The gallery itself will be a living work of art with everyone decked out in either black or white. There is no gray in deciding whether to go or not. Friday, February 5, from 5:30 to 9pm, 2 Queen Street, downtown, 843.805.8052.

The paired paintings above are by Nathan Durfee, Ali Cavanaugh, and Karen Silvestro (from left to right).

Get a sneak peak of all the works on RLS’s site.
Visit the Charleston Art Mag site.

More Press:
Robert Lange’s art Posse sees the world in black and white
Theme Night by Nick Smith, City Paper

Nothing draws an art crowd like a theme night (except free wine and food on an art walk). And Robert Lange Studios has had its fair share of them since it opened over five years ago.

One of its most popular group shows was Yellow vs. Blue, where artists were asked to create two paintings each — one emphasizing yellow, the other blue. The show had an element of competition; which color did the buyers and artists prefer? (Apparently, the sunnier color won).

Less than a year later, RLS is trying something similar with Black vs. White. This show is bigger and more complex than Yellow vs. Blue, but the walls never seem crowded. Each painting has space to be appreciated on its own terms before it’s compared with its counterpart. And with 88 pieces in the gallery and 35 artists showing their work, there’s plenty to appreciate.

Susan Harrell’s still life oils show candy on a black background, fruit on a white one. Kenton James’ photorealistic narrative paintings also use black and white backgrounds. In “For All You Know” a man reads a letter; in “For All She Needs” a woman turns to look out from the canvas with a regretful sign-off. Tiffany Sage contributes an unrelenting “Self Portrait” (oil on canvas).

Mickey Williams paints a simple monochrome palmetto tree, one light, one dark, both soft and appealing so that they look like old photo negatives. The highly gifted Sean Clancy reveals the back of a seated nude with a red rose in the foreground. Patrick Pelletier packs his canvases with a white elephant and its black partner in “Rise of the Guard.” Joshua Flint paints brick and concrete buildings with supple lines, in deep shadow (“Zenith”) or deep snow (“Provenance”).

With so many imaginative painters involved in the show, it would have been great to see them using the theme to stretch themselves more. A lot of them make their backgrounds black and white, or suggest a snowscape or nighttime setting, then add the kind of object or figure we would see in any of their work. Yellow vs. Blue pushed them further, and the studio will have to choose the next color scheme carefully.

However, the artists who play it safe help the ones who don’t to stand out. Those who don’t adhere to the background option include Karen Silvestro, who compares a wrapped-up Muslim woman in “Closed” and a Barbie-like Western blonde in “Open.” They’re both portrayed as puppets dangling for our amusement, at the mercy of their cultural mores. Meanwhile, Nathan Durfee’s humanized oil-on-panel animals are more interested in their supper than what color their fur might be.

Gary Grier sticks with simple portraits wrought with soft brush strokes: a black guy (“Slumber”) and a white guy (“Awake”). Ali Cavanaugh’s striking frescos show a woman with striped socks on her arms. Her face is hidden, presumably because of her fashion faux pas. Leslie Pratt-Thomas provides impressionist landscapes (“Continuous Rhythm”) that pack a lot of emotion into their small frames, with pale clouds contrasting with a dark sky in both pieces.

Gallery owner Robert Lange and wood artist Michael Moran team up to make the most off-the-wall of pieces. Framed LP records are cut out of walnut tree trunks, with the grooves replaced with rings and paintings of trees instead of record labels. One evokes spring, the other winter, and it’s almost a shame to see a hole cut in the middle of each one. The art is accompanied by an atmospheric soundtrack.

Lange and Moran’s art shows that no matter how confining a theme may seem, there’s always a way to say something new or stand out from a crowd — even when that crowd consists of dozens of stunning paintings.


Exhibit Images

Opening Night



Robert Lange Studios