‘Why wait to be discovered?’

Posted 3/12/09

It probably started about 10 years ago … “When we get together, we don’t shut up,” said Pennsylvania contemporary realist painter Robert …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

‘Why wait to be discovered?’


It probably started about 10 years ago …

“When we get together, we don’t shut up,” said Pennsylvania contemporary realist painter Robert Jackson, speaking of his annual get-together with painter friend Scott Fraser, who lives in Longmont.

They developed an idea they had picked up from artist Michael Bergt in Santa Fe: “Why wait to be discovered? Why not initiate our own exhibit?”

Fifteen artist colleagues from across the nation agreed to participate in this conceptual exhibit. Museums were contacted.

It’s unusual for a museum to accept such a proposal, but the Evansville, Ind., museum, which has been a showplace for the genre called contemporary realism and knew many of the artists, agreed to host it even before paintings were painted and is circulating it. Others agreed as long as they didn’t have to handle the logistics of shipping, scheduling, etc.

“Object Project” is now open at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, on the second level of Englewood CivicCenter, 1000 Englewood Parkway, the last of five museums hosting the show over a two-year period.

Jackson, Fraser and seven others of the 15 included, spoke in a panel in next door Hampden Hall before the museum’s opening reception Feb. 20. Museum director Cynthia Madden Leitner laughed about how much fun the staff had trying to identify the objects in each work. Techniques include oil, egg tempera, pastel, graphite, acrylic and styles illustrate the workings of 15 unique minds. “The problem-solving skills are so extraordinary,” Leitner said.

The concept was to have 15 contemporary realist artists each create one multipaneled painting or two similarly sized painting, including five common objects, chosen through a ballot: a clear glass of water, a moth, a ball of string, a bone and a mirror.

“You had to agree to paint whatever was chosen, even if you didn’t like it,” Fraser said.

Each artist received a brown cardboard box, like a Christmas present containing five identical objects and they organized their ideas and started painting, a process that took about two years.

Will Wilson said he agreed immediately and didn’t care about the objects. Then they arrived and he had no ideas after two months. He crossed the street in San Francisco to Scott Hess’ studio and saw his finished paintings. Wilson joked about needing lots of rabbits for his painting and auditioning them. Two appear in his “Object of Affection.”

Madden asked about collaborative process. Artists aren’t known for that ability. Colorado painter Daniel Sprick answered that it was not necessary to collaborate.

One just used the objects and could be secretive, using objects as symbols. He joked that he could bring a death motif into any painting. (His includes a skull). He talked about his favorite historic painters: Northern Renaissance, low countries about 1430.

His luminous work is compared to Van Eyck’s by critics. “It’s not the technique. It’s how much they loved what they are doing — the care, the consummate perfection shows in the beauty of their work.”

Nancy Sprick of Bow Mar, near Littleton, paints with thick textures. She insisted she couldn’t possibly do something as fragile as a moth, so she used “Butter Fly” in a title.

“Did this change anything?” Leitner asked.

Evans said his Pennsylvania school district is the one that made national news recently by asking that Creationism be taught instead of Evolution, so his paintings reflected that. The bone used was a casting of a wolf femur and his triptych and smaller piece grew from issues of science and religion.

Michael Bergt, who paints with the old masters’ technique of egg tempera, said he is primarily a figurative painter, rather than rendering images of still lifes, and his work reflects an interest in Japanese iconography.

The artists initiated the idea and American Artist Magazine editor M. Stephen Doherty curated it. The show catalog, available for $15 at the museum, includes his thoughtful essay, “Common Subjects, Uncommon Results,” which details the process for organizing the show.

If you go

“Object Project” will remain at Museum of Outdoor Arts’ gallery through May 23. It is on the second level of the Englewood Civic Center, 1000 Englewood Parkway, close to the Englewood Light Rail Station. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.



Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.