Pepper’s dynamic vision arises from an amazing degree of energy, intensity and insight. His extraordinary level of perception and commitment, both artistic and ethical, are embodied in the artworks in this exhibition. As a preface, of sorts, in the smaller galleries there is a modestly scaled installation of studies and notes tracing the process of ideas that eventually are embodied in the larger paintings.
The larger paintings are based on geometric, modular structures with complex shaped canvases. Yet, frequently there are organic or expressionist gestures that counter the geometric grids, creating an ambiguity that contradicts any easy interpretation of mapping space. Similarly, there are frequent shifts towards diagonal impositions that disrupt attempts to impose a simple logic upon these planes.
This major development in pepper’s work is colorful and dynamic in design; yet, more importantly, the paintings introduce a myriad means of conceptualizing puzzling patterns into a schema, drawing new maps and forcing the viewer to create new connections in new frontiers.
Ron Schira, a local artist and critic is the guest curator for this exhibit. His catalogue text reflects the inner workings of Pepper, melding concept with process–a profile of an artist who is totally dedicated to the act of making art and who completely rejects the artifice of the art world.
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The exhibition Helicon takes its name from a mountain in Southern Greece where the mythological nine muses of the arts were said to have resided, bestowing inspiration upon artists. As the offspring of Zeus, ruler of the gods, and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, the muses were part of a hereditary equation where power and memory combined in the creation of art. This process of creativity is an ongoing dynamic passed from one generation of artists to the next, identifying art as an influential force shaping perceptions and ideologies.
The six artists in the Helicon exhibition draw inspiration from past artists and reexamine art history through a contemporary lens. In the process, they become present-day integers in an ancient equation. The Helicon artists each approach the history of art differently in their work. Jackie Shatz and Joel Carreiro quote paintings from the past while Nicholas Kripal extracts his sculpture directly from religious architecture. Jeff Mongrain’s interest is in the ephemeral effects of spiritual space on the psyche. Time-honored techniques influence John Rosis, and Claudia Fitch investigates the break down of cultural hierarchies in popular culture.