Artspace111 presents Voyage, a new exhibition of work from Ronald Watson, curated by colleague and contemporary Jim Woodson. The exhibition will include works from the earlier years in painting through current three dimensional sculptures. The artist writes, "When I touch joining planes in my sculpture I feel the trueness of the angle and the completeness of the intersection. I am drawn to systems of structure and I enjoy building webs, lattices and grids that float in space. They are personal labyrinths and I see them as networks of possibilities. My works allow the viewer to consider them as things in the world and as worlds within themselves."
Curatorial Statement | "THE REAL VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY CONSISTS NOT IN SEEKING NEW LANDSCAPES BUT IN HAVING NEW EYES" Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past
The Art of Ron Watson
I have known Ron Watson's work for at least thirty years as we were colleagues during those years and knew of work done before that. I was pleased when Ron asked me to curate this exhibition.
Visiting his studio recently I was struck by the consistency of this work over those years, though they differed in significant ways due to the choice of materials and structures. They ranged from earlier paintings to later fully three dimensional sculptures. I chose works that exemplified this consistency.
In conversations Ron spoke of artists who influenced his work. Artists like Josef Albers and Buckminster Fuller to name a few. I think those influences are in evidence here, In Ron's paintings, it is the geometry of Albers whose belief that "Abstraction is real, probably more real than nature" is evident. In Ron's dimensional works, Fuller's influence is more clearly seen, wherein Ron utilized repeated forms combined to create works that seemed as if they could continue into infinity. These forms recalled Plato's solids that signified spiritual perfection at the meeting of macrocosm and microcosm. These notions were very much in Ron's imagination as he searched for underlying consistency, symmetry and regularity in the universe through those forms.
As the title of this exhibition suggests, this work is about the exploration of perception. Though in later works there are free standing pieces, the ones chosen for this exhibition have a special relationship with the wall. One sees through the physical work so the wall is activated. We talked of "movement with the piece, activating the movement of shadows and their resulting without mechanics", where the viewer participates as she passes relationship with the physical object that changes with her movement. I believe the piece selected above entitled DEPARTURE exemplifies this dynamic.
To quote Ron: "When I touch joining planes in my sculpture I feel the trueness of the angle and the completeness of the intersection. I am drawn to systems of structure and I enjoy building webs, lattices and grids that float in space. They are personal labyrinths and I see them as networks of possibilities. My works allow the viewer to consider them as things in the world and as worlds within themselves"
- Jim Woodson
Artist Bio | A native of Nebraska, Watson earned his BFA and MFA from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln where he drew inspiration from American and European works in the permanent collection of the Sheldon Art Gallery, including such artists as Josef Albers, Tony Smith, and Mark Rothko. He received an Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. His invitations to serve as a guest artist include Cranbrook Academy of Art, the Ohio State University, and Lehman College in New York.
His work has been presented in eighteen solo exhibitions in Michigan, Texas, Illinois and Florida and in more than one hundred group exhibitions in the United States. A dozen public and corporate collections including the Veterans Administration Hospital, Wood (Milwaukee), Wisconsin, Standard Oil, Inc., Chicago, the Museum of Geometric and MADI Art, Dallas, and the National Collection of Fine Arts, Washington, D.C. hold his work. Watson has published one book and four exhibition catalogues. He has administered two college level art programs was the founder and Director of the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Watson was a consultant to the Art in Public Places program of the National Endowment for the Arts. His teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels is in a variety of studio disciplines including drawing, painting, design and color. He also offers seminars in art criticism and in professional practice for artists. Watson has offered instruction in art criticism at universities in Peru and Mexico as well as in Budapest, Prague and Vienna.