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Tennessee Williams: The Playwright and the Painter

Organized by David Wolkowsky and the Key West Art & Historical Society
February 7 – May 31, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 7, 2015

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), <i>The Blaze of the Moment</i>, c1970s, Oil on Canvas

Tennessee Williams was one of the most admired playwrights of the 20th century. While he wrote fiction and motion picture screenplays, Williams is best known for his plays, which are chiefly set in the South. Several of his plays including “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “The Glass Menagerie,” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” are considered among the finest of the American stage. For more than 30 years, Williams lived and wrote in a cottage on a quiet Key West street. As a form of relaxation, he took up oil painting on his patio, often sketching friends, acquaintances and characters from his plays.

Jim Roche: Cultural Mechanic

February 27 – July 12, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 7, 2015

Jim Roche, <i>Crabeye</i>, 1977, graphite on paper, 30x42 inches. Collection of the artist

Born in 1943, Jim Roche received a BA from Florida State University (1961) and an MA and MFA from University of Dallas (1968 and 1970). He was Professor of Art at Florida State University from 1973 until his retirement in 2013. Over the course of a career that spans the better part of five decades, he has created a narrative of place, ecology, Southern culture, the art world, and the human condition through his work. His practice has ranged from the groundbreaking and meticulous ceramic work in his Potted Mama Plants from the 1960s, through conceptual and expressive drawings, massive maximalist installations in museums and in the landscape, found object constructions, art cars, video, spoken word performance, and the delicately detailed documentation of his life as Dr. Curve, a motorcycle legend. Drawing inspiration from the lush and delicate environment of his native Florida, the complicated artists and common people of that place, Americana, evangelical traditions, and his never-ending observations and critiques on the human condition – Roche has created a body of work that stands testament to the life of an artist with an unflinching vision and unstoppable creativity. After working in ceramics at the University of Dallas (1966-1970), Roche’s thesis exhibition was displayed for only three hours before being shut down for it sexually charged content. Following that, Roche was invited to the Whitney Museum of American Art Annual in 1970. His Life Symbols, Human Condition Packets and Animal Ascension Plot installation opened at The Walker Art Center in 1972. A solo exhibition of his installation, All in my Background, was mounted at the Whitney in 1974. Tree Grave Site was chosen for the Art Park in Lewiston, New York in 1975. He was included in the Venice Biennale in 1976, and his piece, Vampire Alarm, was included in the Paris Biennale in 1977. His work has been reviewed in both national and international publications, including ARTnews, Art Forum, Time Magazine, Stern, and The New Yorker.

Tina Freeman: Artist Spaces

March 7 – July 12, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 7, 2015

With this body of photographs, and the subsequent book, Tina Freeman documents the working spaces of twenty-one New Orleans artists. With text provided by Morgan Molthrop, this series sheds new light on the artists’ work and process. From George Dureau to Willie Birch, each of the artists included invested their aesthetic into the spaces where they work. Ranging from established masters to a young graffiti artist, these images give insight into process and personality, providing the viewer glimpses into the creative process.

An exhibition planned at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art will contextualize these images with masterful examples of each artist’s work. Beautiful objects in their own right, Tina Freeman’s photographs will become windows into the history of the objects, and into the creative soul of their makers.

Betsy Eby: Painting with Fire

June 13 - October 25, 2015
Opening Reception: Thursday, June 18, 6PM - 8PM

Betsy Eby, Sanguine XIV, 2009

In her paintings, Betsy Eby fuses the line between the musical and the visual composition. A classically trained pianist, she seeks in her work what Rothko described as "the place where music lives.” The layers and gestures of her paintings evoke musical spaces and rhythms while drawing on patterns found in nature. From her early childhood, musical and natural rhythms blended in Eby's sensibility. She spent her first years of life in a small town on the Oregon coast, practicing at the family piano by the age of five. Today her work reveals that interconnected sensitivity: her delicate, organic compositions become synesthesias of sound and image.

Betsy Eby: Painting with Fire features the artist's recent paintings that utilize the technique of encaustic, which means "to burn.” The process is an ancient one by which layers of pigments, sap, and wax are fused together by the flame of a torch. Eby has slowly refined the technique to her own language, composing dynamic surfaces and deep, luminous spaces. Her paintings are visceral, yet for Eby they shimmer with something more of the mystical, hovering between material and immaterial worlds as do the worlds of sight and sound.

Betsy Eby received her BA from the University of Oregon. She and her husband, painter Bo Bartlett, split their time between studios in Columbus, Georgia, and Wheaton Island, Maine. She savors the spaciousness and light of both of these studios, and her paintings evoke the atmosphere of the vast ocean that surrounds her small island residence in Maine. Her work has been shown and collected by the Georgia Museum of Art and the Columbus Museum, and she has shown frequently with Winston Wachter Fine Art in their Seattle and New York galleries.

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