Encounter Gallery at Northwest Bible Church

Discussing the self-portrait “Man Born Blind” with Robert Virkus.

The Encounter Gallery is showing through December 2019, in the Christian Life Center at Northwest Bible Church in Dallas. We had a Sunday Morning opening a couple of weeks ago and lots of folks stopped by to look and chat between and after the services. I met Robert Virkus and we had an interesting conversation about the art work and some of our favorite artists. Above is the installation on the south wall.

The North Wall installation of the Encounter Gallery

The church is usually open during the day and they often have extended hours. But I recommend calling ahead to make sure the Christian Life Center is unlocked and available for viewing.

Northwest Bible Church
Christian Life Center
8505 Douglas Avenue
Dallas, TX 75225

David Park’s Best Year Ever

Four People Drinking a Toast, ca. 1937

I recently visited the Modern Museum of Fort Worth which is showing David Park’s work from the 1930’s through 1950’s. Since he’s known as a figurative painter, I was very interested in seeing more of his work.

Now for the full disclosure: I do not appreciate most of David Park’s abstracted figurative work, especially those he did in later life.  I’m a portrait and figural painter with a completely different aesthetic. It seems to me that abstract expressionism may be able to be applied successfully to the figure and portrait, but I don’t like how Mr. Park applied it.

However, there are some wonderful paintings here, and all the best are from 1937. This show is definitely worth the trip to Fort Worth.

In the first painting above, Four People Drinking a Toast, Park shows an enigmatic foursome crowded around a small table, tightly squeezed and cropped into the picture plane.  It’s easy to imagine the rest of the cramped apartment and speculate on the underlying intimacy between the four people.  There is so much mystery here. I wonder why the woman in yellow is holding the fancy vase, rather than another goblet of wine.  Is she showing off a new purchase?  Perhaps it’s a valued heirloom.  Maybe it adds some comic relief or just necessary to complete the complicated composition. I love it when artists show off and I think that’s a bit of what’s going on here. Regardless, the seriousness of the group and their intensely focused gazes make for a wonderful and contemplative piece. 

Dancing Couples, ca. 1937

At some point, hopefully, each of us will have a really great year. It will be a stretch of time when everything comes together, we’re at the top of our game, and our best work is done. Perhaps it will be the culmination of long years of study and practice. Then the fates coalesce for a short time. Once you live through a period like that and achieve success at that level, the later years may be hard to accept. Lightning in a bottle is hard to conjure up a second time.

This second work, Dancing Couples, portrays the figures tightly entwined.  Once again maximum use of the picture plane is made and the space is tight. 

Self-Portrait Painting His Wife, ca. 1937

This last painting also has a lot going on in a small space.  We see the loveliness captured in his wife’s evocative pose.  And on the inner canvas, we get a glimpse of where his work will take him a few years down the road.  It’s unfinished certainly, but it’s lacking in depth and emotion. Perhaps it’s foreshadowing something of the path he will take in the future.

I’m interested in art that portrays and speaks to the human condition. There is much in these 1937 paintings that make me think the artist and his models have a connection and an interest in each other. They know each other intensely and there are bonds between them that will last. The later work, although vigorous in its brushstroke and color, loses that connection between artist and subject, and therefore me.

Cerealism Collage

Ceralism collage

There’s something reassuring when working with scissors and glue. Not only familiar, but also easy and fun. For me, there are fewer pretentious thoughts to making great art and lots more smiling and fun. It never fails when we’ve set up an art-making night that everyone gets busy and I just stare at whatever materials we’ve collected and all my great ideas just fly away, It feels like the everyone else is moving on and doing their thing and I am completely out of ideas.

More ceralism.

Most of the materials we were using were from cereal boxes saved for this purpose over the last few months due to our recent collage experience with Michael Albert. The colors and font designs are fantastic and probably the results of millions of dollars of advertising campaigns. The cost is basically nothing, and it’s keeping some packaging from going straight to the dump. Ok, so it’s just a little bit of packaging that we’re temporarily keeping from the garbage, but it’s a good feeling to recycle even a little bit. It’s especially a good feeling to make something fun and use basically no money at all in it.

Lurking Desire

Here’s what I finally came up with. It’s a sort of psychological portrait of a small part of our marriage. It’s also using what was available and not being fussy about it. The pepperoni pizza bird on the left is me, the popcorn bird is she. It would have been more accurate if my bird had been made of fried chicken, but a suitable pic was not available. The popcorn bird is entirely accurate. My lovely wife loves popcorn. It’s the go-to snack while amazon prime binging.

Intense discussion

I love this picture. It’s a bit out of order. We almost always eat, and talk, and pray together before the art-making. The spot on the couch by Phil is occupied by Wendy who is right there skyped in on Melissa’s cell phone which was pretty cool. The conversation that I remember most about this evening is the idea that we have to keep taking risks and focusing on truly important things. Whether it’s with new art-making ideas, new relationships, or more time spent praying, reading, and applying scripture to our lives. Someone said that we need to rid ourselves of those time-consuming activities with which we are pre-occupied and move forward with the vital things. And stop worrying about whether or not we and they will be accepted.