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Contemporary realist exhibit at Richmond Center

Nov. 14, 2007

KALAMAZOO--An exhibit at Western Michigan University will feature contemporary realist art from the center of the art scene and contemplate a progression in the way realism is reflected in popular culture.

The show, "Keeping it Real," will open at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, in WMU's sweeping new Richmond Center for Visual Arts, and will run through Friday, Dec. 21.

Gallery hours for "Keeping it Real"

Monday through Thursday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday: noon to 6 p.m.

The gallery is closed on Sundays. The exhibit will be accompanied by two special discussions:

Thursday, Nov. 15, 5:30 p.m.--Kate Teale, "Keeping it Real" artist
Tuesday, Nov. 27, 5:30 p.m.--Jerry Kearns, "Keeping it Real" curator

New York artist, activist and "Keeping it Real" curator, Jerry Kearns, says the exhibit was born from an interest in the number of emerging and established artists who are redefining realism through shows mainly being produced in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

During the rise of abstract expressionism in the 1940s, Kearns says, realism was outside the New York art scene--and therefore outside the mainstream. With few notable exceptions, realism, which depicts subjects free of interpretation, the way they appear in real life, was of little interest to the forward edge of contemporary art. From the 1960s through the 1980s, pop and post-pop art strategies and the emergence of photo-based imagery into the mainstream introduced the conceptual notion of "naturalism." The term was coined to refer to the "appearance" of reality, and therefore suggests a manipulation of what is truly real, especially when applied to advertising formats.

Since the 1990s, a revived interest in realism and naturalism has gained a central spot in the New York art scene. A large number of mid-career artists, and an even larger number of emerging artists, are now using a variety of image strategies based around realist concepts.

The artists that Kearns selected for "Keeping it Real," offer a cross-section of this developing scene. Kearns handpicked artists whose work presents a clear distinction between the two most prevalent approaches to contemporary realism. One group represents the "realists past," who work primarily from their direct, first-hand observations. The other group of artists work from mediated, second-hand images that they have taken from popular culture.

Artists participating in "Keeping it Real" include: Robert Birmelin, Charles Browning, Arthur Cohen, Jane Dickson, Graham Guerra, Amy Hill, John Jacobsmeyer, Larry Mantello, Jillian McDonald, Sean Mellyn, Rune Olsen, James Stanley, Kate Teale and Robin Tewes,

For additional information on the exhibit, contact the Richmond Center for Visual Arts at (269) 387-2455.

Media contact: Don Desmett, (269) 387-8400, donald.desmett@wmich.edu

WMU News
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(269) 387-8400