The Object Seen

an international juried exhibition
September 15 to October 30

Opening Reception: Friday, September 24th | 5:30pm to 6:30pm. Masks required

The Object Seen is a celebration of one of art history’s oldest traditions – the study and practice of the still life as subject matter.  This exhibition honors both traditional realism as well as more experimental contemporary techniques and welcomes a variety of media.

Twenty-two pieces by twenty artists were chosen for inclusion in the show by juror Sheldon Tapley. They reflect and express the theme of Contemporary Still Life while demonstrating creativity, strength of execution, and overall artistic excellence.

The work in this show is for sale. Please click on the title of a piece to be redirected to our sales gallery.

We are hosting a range of still life classes, workshops, and special events this fall. Click here for details and registration!

Juror’s Statement

“We think of the things we own and use as defining us in some way, but that can only be true if we first describe the things. Describing is a remarkable human act. It connects our inner and outer experience: as we observe and record the material world, we respond and reflect. We enter the realm where the material world meets the imagination. That’s the fertile ground of art.” – Sheldon Tapley

Sheldon Tapley is the Stodghill Professor of Art at Centre College, where he has taught painting and drawing throughout his career. His works have been exhibited and collected at public institutions across the country.

Corner of Atelier
by Ellen Ballard (Goshen, KY)
oil on canvas | 16″ x 20″

Artist Statement: I started my art experience, according to my mother, when I asked for a ‘weasel’ when I was 4 years old. She was always supportive of my art, sending me to various classes throughout my elementary and high school years. Of course she did this with all of her 8 children, to get us out of the house! Due to the pandemic, she moved into my home last year, and would watch me paint in my studio. In April she died after 101 and 3/4 years. Entering this show was a way of honoring her memory.

Veggies, Fruits and Flowers
by Ellen Ballard (Goshen, KY)
oil on canvas | 36″ x 24″

The Election of Chicken Little
by Connie Beale (Danville, KY)
hand-cut paper collage on board | 32″ x 48″

Artist Statement: I am always looking for the naturally occurring composition. Perhaps it is a way of sharing with others what I see through my eyes. In this piece, the sky is falling and Chicken Little is oblivious.

To the Core
by Ann Dawkins (Stillwater, OK)
oil on canvas | 7.5″ x 10″

Artist Statement: My work uses the language of thick oil paint to describe the visceral and fleshy qualities of exposed, neglected, discarded, and partially consumed fruit as a representation of the vulnerable and uncontrollable physicality of the human body. As a human, it can often feel that your body is an external object that is not within your control; that your physical being is prison or an enemy that is unpredictable and susceptible to outside forces of evil, deception, and disease.

Still Life with Peony Tulips
by John Andrew Dixon (Danville, KY)
collage on canvas | 18″ x 23.75″

Artist Statement: Peony tulip blossoms created en plein air in a local flower garden. “Still life within still life” commenced and partially finished from direct observation. Personal collage technique and contemporary visual approach influenced by Juan Gris, Georges Braque, Kurt Schwitters, Alfredo Roldan, Max Pechstein, Paul Cézanne.

Ingredients include colored papers, ruined book parts, wallpaper, reclaimed tea bags, tissue, string, dried leaf. Adhesives include wheat paste, gel medium, white glue. Minimal use of walnut juice, burnt coffee, tinted paste, marker ink.

Where Are the Keys?
by Cherie Dowd (Celebration, FL)
oil on canvas | 36″ x 48″

Artist Statement: This series combines objects that are highly personal and cardboard packing boxes. I found the background upholstery fabric at a warehouse in St. Louis and held on to the remnant for the bold black and white linear pattern and undulating surface contours created by the soft fabric draped over a surface. The fabric pattern never ceases to interest me as a painter. I like the way the soft fabric plays against the geometry of the boxes. Other items in the compositions are markers of particular moments In time.

Still Life with Inedibles
by Mitch Eckert (Louisville, KY)
photograph on gelatin silver print | 16″ x 16″

Artist Statement: The solitary nature of making photographs feels right just now. And to make art that is about decaying objects and to seek out their latent beauty seems like a distillation of our particular moment in time.

Farmer’s Market Flowers
by Donna Forgacs (Danville, KY)
oil on linen canvas | 18″ x 15″

Artist Statement: My work has been influenced by The Impressionists and travels to sites in France where many of them lived and painted. I enjoy painting in Europe as well as local scenes from our beautiful natural surroundings in Kentucky. This bouquet was purchased from the farmer’s market, arranged in a vase, and painted en plein air.

Decaying Organic Matter
by Vyncex Gorlami (Louisville, KY)
archival photo print | 18″ x 24″

Artist Statement: I explore abandoned, condemned, illegally occupied, or vacant structures in Louisville, Kentucky. I often find myself taking a bus downtown and walking around the inner city with a sense of purposelessness. Occasionally, I’m in a situation where I’m able to capture a moment of derangement, disorder, or absolute deviancy. In this photograph, a bowl of fruit and vegetable matter were simmered in a structure fire.

Comparing Apples to Oranges
by George Gow (Richmond, KY)
watercolor on paper | 16″ x 20″

Artist Statement: This painting is a semi abstract painting which contains references to apples, oranges and flowers which are typical components in a traditional still life painting. The title (Comparing Apples to Oranges) suggests the difficulty of comparing one style of painting to another.

Crossing the Chilkoot Pass
by Megan Green (Toronto, Ontario)
charcoal on illustration board | 11″ x 28″

Artist Statement: In my work I attempt to use objects and their associated narratives to contextualize industrial mining in the geo-cultural landscape; specifically examining class and personal experiences I have had growing up in northern Canada around the tar-sands; a region that is often considered the worst example of natural resource mining and described in apocalyptic terms. Animal remains represent a way into the colonial nature of the Canadian relationship with the landscape; there is a through line running from the Canadian fur trade to our current predicament as a petrostate.

Mother and Child
by Sarah Haig (Martin, TN)
digital print | 10″ x 8″

Artist Statement: My work seeks out the things around us we don’t see everyday. It is a frozen moment, relived everyday in the life of an Alzheimer’s patient.

Still Life with Dianthus
by Elizabeth Heller (Philadelphia, PA)
oil on canvas | 18″ x 24″

Artist Statement: When the weather sends me inside, I set up still lives in my studio. I have a collection of colored glassware, which I have arranged against a window. I select objects, sometimes sculptures I have made, or flowers, to form a composition. After many times working on the painting, I am sometimes satisfied. I feel in touch with the complex beauty which called to me in the first place. The colors are measured, as are the shapes, lines, space and light. I see a subtle and delicate geometry–formed by their balancing.

As Far as the Eye Can See
by Kristen Kovak (Pittsburgh, PA)
graphite on paper | 22″ x 30″

Artist Statement: Museum artifacts are both historical records and objects of disinterested observation. Yet once these forms are illuminated and encased in glass, I am distracted by my own perceptions. I see the environmental idiosyncrasies rather than the functional objects.

Wardrobe 2020
by Jackie Lucas (Louisville, KY)
photograph | 16″ x 20″

Artist Statement: The pandemic has shown us how quickly our lives and views can change. Most of us have found ourselves living, working and going to school in our homes and using our creativity to adapt and find comfort.

by Tracy Meola (Plaistow, NH)
acrylic paint | 11″ x 14″

Artist Statement: I was intrigued by the title of this show because it fit so well with my work. The Object Seen makes me think of the transparent glass objects that I so much enjoy to paint. The object is there and can be seen, but because it is transparent it can also be seen through. So often there are colors reflected in glass that we see but do not realize are there. We have objects all around us and in Still Life paintings they become much more than ordinary objects, they become seen.

Still Life with Tea Service and Plastic Bags
by Rosalie Rosenthal (Louisville, KY)
pigment print on matte fine art paper | 18″ x 12″

Artist Statement: Midlife Tableaux is a photographic series exploring questions of legacy and loss from my perspective at midlife. Generational shifts bring teenagers into adulthood just as parents reach an age of needing care. Acknowledging the inevitable changes, I consider the people, traditions and objects that will endure and disappear. I compose still lifes, self-portraits and vignettes using family heirlooms. I make the artifacts my own, as gestures of agency and reclamation during a period of change. The series draws from the iconography of Dutch still life and vanitas paintings.

by Rosalie Rosenthal (Louisville, KY)
pigment print on matte fine art paper | 12″ x 18″

Artist Statement: The series draws from the iconography of Dutch still life and vanitas paintings. I employ dark and flattened backgrounds, reflective surfaces, and evidence of time’s passage to consider our mortality. Dark and light values within the frame create tension to underscore both the gift and weight of a family’s legacy. The imagery suggests identities informed by the past, and in flux at present; my daughter’s collaboration, and juxtapositions of antique with present-day consumer goods helps me to imagine a legacy for future generations.

by Lynda Ross (Danville, KY)
oil on canvas | 16.5″ 20.5″

Artist Statement: Still life painting challenges the artist to make the every day object grand.

Cyclamen in a Teacup
by De Selby (Nicholasville, KY)
oil on canvas | 16″ x 20″

Artist Statement: Still Life has long been a means to employ what I’ve learned over many years, and what I’ve discovered in my studio, and in observing life–though life is rarely still. Painting recognizable objects allows a connection to observers, drawing (no pun intended) them to closer observation of technique and movement. That’s the hat trick: transposing reality into bits of color and pattern.

One of my only destinations during the pandemic has been the patio. I purchased the china when we lived in Wales, and have used several pieces in paintings over the years. The soft shadows of the day were enchanting.

by Tim Smith (Columbia, KY)
oil on canvas | 19.5″ x25.5″

Artist Statement: Still life has always been an inspiration. Painted directly from life the paintings evolve from a study of form into a depiction of discovery. The patterns and rhythms of color and shapes evoke a response not just to the subjects but to the quality of light and associations to what the objects represent.

by Connie Tucker (Lexington, KY)
watercolor | 11″ x 15″

Artist Statement: I alternate between still life and other subjects, including landscapes, flowers and the occasional portrait, making each day in the studio feel new and exciting. I find myself drawn to still life painting and telling the stories of my life through these set ups and paintings. I intend to render these pieces in a way that resonates a sense of delight, wonder, and sprit to those who see them.

Deep Sun Light
by Mikey Winsor (Lexington, KY)
oil on canvas | 36″ x 24″

Artist Statement: My work explores the lingering forces of nature that pull, give, and tear life from one entity and hand it to another. Flowers represent attractive moments in reproduction. Holes are entry and exit ways. Lines connect, organize, and layout what is happening. The cycle of life is a phenomenal wonder with an infinite depth. My goal is to initiate a profound interest that lures the viewer to dip their mind into this life cycle.