JACKSON, Wyo. — For the Fall Arts Festival, Altamira Fine Art juxtaposes two artists’ meditations on the harmony they find in nature. By eliminating the emotion of color and focusing on the gesture of charcoals, September Vhay considers the simplicity and scale of nature, while Robert Moore approaches the vivid variety of nature’s palette. Their contrasting compositions ultimately elicit complementary responses: wonder at the dynamism of the natural world. In anticipation of their September shows, each artist described their current practice and paintings.
Robert Moore has recently focused more on sequencing. When he squirts paint onto his drawing, he aims to control the physicality of the paint, to mentally calculate the mixture of colors and to plan what will happen as much as possible. Because he’s colorblind, he’s been aligning the 12 steps of the color wheel with the 12 notes of the octave. Moore explores what it will look like if he uses musical parallels and shifts his colors according to what a key might look like.
When he uses a brush, it turns the paint into a single note. But when he uses a knife, he lays down a chord of color with one dominant hue. One note is not as rich as a chord. This approach is Moore’s way of producing order while also eliciting emotion. One of Moore’s instructors at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California once told him: “If you are painting an ice cream cone, don’t paint the dessert itself, paint how it tastes, how it feels on a hot summer day.”
So now, when Moore approaches an Aspen stand, he imagines the sensation of standing amid the quaking leaves, under their dappled umbrella.
September Vhay says that simplicity and scale sum up her current mode. Simplicity for one because she decided to remove the immediacy of color, and instead focus on the value and composition communicated by the black charcoal on white paper. This approach reminds Vhay of a saying she once heard: “Value and composition do all the work, while color and subject matter get all the credit.”
Therefore, she’s removing the emotion of color and instead, adding the impact of scale. In this dynamic, the details confront you.
Gesture answers the questions Vhay asks herself as she works through a new piece. “What am I saying? What am I expressing? For instance, the life-size eagle is about flight. Or, in the case of another composition with a horse and a hummingbird, the gesture is the connection,” said Vhay.
“When the composition is minimal, whatever you are saying is heard more loudly. With so few moves, each mark carries more meaning.”
The medium, too, becomes all the more important. Vhay finds the immediacy of charcoal to be freeing. She loves the simplicity of it, of working with just carbon and paper.
Moore and Vhay’s tandem shows run from Sept. 1 to 19, with an Artists’ Reception held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10. For more information about Vhay and Moore, please contact Altamira Fine Art by email— [email protected]—or phone—(307) 739-4700.