By Kelly M. Gross, director
The Art Association of Jacksonville welcomes Jacksonville native James Oliver to The David Strawn Art Gallery, 331 W. College Ave. in Jacksonville, February 4-26. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, February 4 from 6-8 p.m. with “Gallery Talk” by Oliver at 6:30 p.m. The opening reception and “Gallery Talk” are free and open to the public.
James Oliver is a graduate of Jacksonville High School and currently holds the position of Interim Chair and Professor of Painting at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas. He holds a Master of Arts with emphasis in painting from Tulane Univeristy in New Orleans, Louisiana;a Master of Arts with emphasis in painting and drawing from Eastern Illinois Univeristy in Charleston, Illinois; and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Denison University in Granville, Ohio. He has been employed by the Fine Art Department of Pittsburg State University since the fall of 2001. Prior to that, Oliver held positions at Denison University, Tulane University, Eastern Illinois Unveristy and Margulies Medical Art.
Oliver’s, work has been featured in numerous exhibittions from 1994 to present. In 2005, he had a one-person show titled “Rural Happenings” at The David Strawn Art Gallery, which was very well received. His work is representated by the George Billis Gallery in New York City and his artwork is in the permanent collections of Burrus Seed Farm, Inc.: The Arts and Science Center of Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff, Arkansas; American Insurance in New York, New York; and Aegon Realty Corp in New York, New York. His honors and publications include numerous jurors mention, awards and honorable mention awards as well as “Best of Show” at the Rosenzweig Biennial.
Oliver says of his work: “In organizing these most recent paintings and drawings, I combine aspects from multiple sources — drawings made with a camera lucida, reference photographs and visual memories of the homes in my neighborhood. Figure and ground are organized with line and shape, coupled with color relationships, to build a space that can be viewed for both its sense of simplistic realism and an organic quality of abstraction. Color is drawn from the actual hues visible in observation, and then manipulated to reveal its relationship to the space, ultimately becoming plastic in orientation.”
“In deconstructing the imagery, the focus becomes less on the possibility of reality, however real the end product. Rather, for me, the focus becomes what happens formally within the painting. The issues of composition and color and how they work with and sometimes against one another to either amplify or flatten the space become paramount.”
“By scaling the work to an intimate size, gaps within the compositions and other more recognizable elements combine into abstracted, yet still identifiable, shapes at times. The small scale, I feel, integrates the viewer as an active participant in the experience of the work. Rather than just viewing the work passively, the viewer is asked to engage in the work both formally and conceptually by filtering the generalized scene through his or her own personal memories of similar landscapes, events or spaces.”