Everett Shinn: American Realist Painter

Text by Taylor Wilson, Gallery Attendant

Dance is an art in and of itself, but the ability to catch the beauty of it in a piece of art is even more special. Dance has been a common theme for centuries with artists like Degas attempting to capture moments on stage. In our collection at the Forsyth Galleries, we have a pastel drawing from the American realist painter Everett Shinn, who is often described as an American Degas. Shinn is able to portray the power, grace, and beauty of ballet through fluid strokes of the wrist.

Everett Shin was born in Woodstown, New Jersey to rural farmers. He attended the Spring Garden Institute in Philadelphia to study mechanical drawing and eventually moved on to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. By his late teens he was a staff artist for the Philadelphia Press, which he considered the beginning of his art career. Shinn traveled to Europe during his young adulthood to study other painters and was extremely influenced by the Impressionist movement and, it is believed, specifically depictions of the stage by Degas, Manet, and Forain. While in Philadelphia, Shinn was a member of the Charcoal Club, established by fellow artists Robert Henri, John Sloan, and Joseph Laub, which eventually became the origin of the Ashcan School. Shinn was also later a member of The Eight, a group of artists named from a 1908 exhibition. Although others focused on a more idealistic outlook on upper class leisure, Shinn chose to paint realistic depictions of urban life, which often included gritty scenes of tenement life, social and economic diversity, and forms of urban entertainment.

Infatuated with the theatre, Shinn’s depictions were generally of unusual angles, often with the audience as the backdrop. He also liked to take up an aerial perspective or one from the orchestra pit. No matter the angle, Shinn would capture the excitement from the movement on stage. In the pastel drawing On Stage, from our collection at the Forsyth, the viewer is given an aerial perspective with the orchestra conductor in view in front of the stage. The dancer is mid-jump which is evident, not only from the obvious position, but the way Shinn imagines the skirt in movement. By including the conductor, the viewer is left with a sense of anticipation. If the dancer were by herself in the shot, it would seem as if she were frozen in time, but by including the conductor there is the expectation that the music is continuing and you are waiting for her to land. The position Shinn chose for the dancer exhibits not only her grace, but her strength as visible in the delicate placement of her arms juxtaposed with the musculature of her legs.

Though influenced by the Impressionist movement, which strove to capture snapshots of everyday activities, Shinn was not afraid to make a bolder statement with his subject matter. While it is easy to capture moments in the theatre as fantastical, idealistic split seconds of true beauty, Shinn did not shy away from reproducing the scene in a way that allowed the viewer to connect with society at the time, which was riding the rollercoaster of the Great Depression. This set Shinn apart from his peers and allowed him to become a truly wonderful artist.

Everett Shinn, N.A.  On Stage, c. 1918 pastel on paper, Bill & Irma Runyon Art Collection, 988.001.0203
Everett Shinn, N.A. On Stage, c. 1918 pastel on paper Bill & Irma Runyon Art Collection 988.001.0203

Monthly Artist Highlight – Richard R. Dick” Davison


Text by Krista Osborne

Richard R. Davison Jr, a Professor of the College of Architecture faculty at Texas A&M University, was born in Marlin, Texas in 1953. He received a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree from Texas A&M in 1975. After graduation he pursued his career in art, obtained a BFA and MFA from the University of California at Irvine in 1976 and Washington University in 1979, respectively.

Davison has established himself as one of the major artists in the state and distinguished himself nationally by having been featured in several national exhibitions, including “Superficial: An Exhibition About the Surface of a Painting” at the Art museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi; “Oil Patch Dreams: Images of the Petroleum Industry in American Art”, a five museum touring exhibition curated by Francine Carraro; “Texas Art for Russia”, Invitational Group Exhibition, organized by Art League of Houston, curated by internationally known artist, Frank Williams.

Davison has also been a recipient of several awards, both as an artist and as a teacher. Most notably, he received the Texas A&M association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement award in Teaching and honorary induction into Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society, Alpha Alpha Chapter, Texas A&M University. Furthermore, his work has been featured in solo exhibitions, including, recently, an exhibition titled “Heavenly Architecture” at The Museum of Biblical Art, Dallas.

Commenting on his work, Davison says, “My recent work has taken two unrelated directions. One is about monuments or memorials–how they stand against time (i.e., as compared with our own lives or the ephemeral nature of a reflection in water) as well as how we create them to assuage our own longings, regrets, etc. The other direction falls into the category of landscape, with homage to artists whose work is at once regional and visionary in character, such as that of Charles Burchfield and Samuel Palmer, and to the purpose of reiterating the argument of “natural religion”, that nature herself is the clearest evidence of God.”

Davison’s scholarly interests include design communication, drawing, painting, and color theory.
Five of Davison’s newer works are now on display at the College of Architecture Art Faculty Biennial Exhibition at the J. Wayne Stark Galleries. Moreover, the Stark Galleries hold, both in the permanent collection and as long term loans, nearly twenty original works from Davison.

Bluebonnets with Cemetery #2

One of the most unique paintings in the Forsyth Gallery’s collection was a gift by the Texas A&M Class of 1985 endowment.  Bluebonnets with Cemetery #2, was painted by Austin-based artist Nina Beall in 1991.  Ms. Beall has been exhibiting her artwork since 1980 and has participated in solo and group shows around the country. 

The Class of 1985 purchased Bluebonnets with Cemetery #2 for its Texas-centric subject of a field of bluebonnets in Spring.  Hills full of royal blue, pale blue, and the extremely rare red bluebonnets rise to the middle ground, where an old, fenced cemetery appears on the viewer’s left.  Skeletal trees line the ridge of hills in the background and the setting sun reflects on the clouds in shades of yellow, peach, and pink.  The painting is currently on display on the first floor of the Memorial Student Center.

beall_ninaThe large painting is an example of the use of the impasto technique to create artworks where the paint appears to be rising from the canvas itself.  The characteristic look of impasto is typically created by applying the paint to the canvas very heavily with the aid of a pallet-knife or brush, though some artists may also choose to use rags, pastry bags, or even their hands.  The word “impasto,” originally derives from the Italian word for dough, and some speculate that the Italian verb “impastare,” meaning “to knead” (as in kneading dough for bread), influenced the modern use of the word. 

Both oil and acrylic paint can be used in the impasto technique. Bluebonnets with Cemetery #2 consists of acrylic paint, as this medium dries faster than oils.  Artists typically use the technique to add an expressive quality to the painting, create more surfaces upon which light can reflect, and give a 3-dimensional sculptural quality to the work.  Impasto was first used by the Dutch and Italian masters of the 16th and 17th Centuries, where it was contrasted with smoother work to give greater interest to folds of cloth and the surfaces of jewels.  Later, during the Impressionist era of the 19th Century, painters like Van Gogh created entire canvases using the technique, as seen in The Starry Night, 1889.  The impasto technique was also extremely popular with the American post-World War II Abstract Expressionists, including Hans Hofmann and Willem de Kooning.  

Ms. Beall states that, “…I am obsessed with the pure physicality of the paint and the process.  Therein lies the mystery for me; and I suppose a rather Taoist philosophy in regards to art, nature, and life.”  A selection of Ms. Beall’s current past works may be viewed on her website: http://www.ninabeall.com/



Frederic Sackrider Remington and The American West

Text by Lynn C. McDaniel, Communications Specialist, University Art Galleries Department

The Forsyth Galleries has, in its collection, some important paintings by artists who focused their talents on the American West, including Joseph Henry Sharp, Charles Marion Russell, and (among others) Albert Bierstadt. One of the many favorites currently on exhibition is a painting called Modern Comanche, by Frederic Remington.
Painting by Frederic Remington of Modern Comanche
Frederic Sackrider Remington was born in 1861 in Canton, New York, and grew up in the Eastern United States. He took his first trip west when he was 20 years old. Although Remington moved west for a short period of time, and visited quite often to acquire inspiration for his paintings, he and his wife found the life difficult and ended up moving back to New York.

As one who loved adventure and a good story, Remington used his skills as an illustrator, painter, novelist, journalist, and sculptor to create his own version of the wild west. More than the west inspiring Remington’s paintings, Remington, with his bold sense of color, light and his focus on the cowboy and Native American conflict, created America’s popular vision of who and what America represented—bravery, adventure, man against man, and man against nature.

Much of the cinematography of Director John Ford’s western films was based on the works of Remington, Russell and Von Schmidt, but Remington seemed to be his greatest influence. Ford’s cavalry movies, including “Fort Apache,” “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon,” and “Rio Grande,” among many others, have become film tributes to the works of artists of the American west.

Ford stated, “When I did ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’, I tried to have the cameras photograph it as Remington would have sketched and painted it. It came out beautifully and was very successful in this respect, I think. When I did ‘The Searchers,’ I used a Charles Russell motif. These were two of our greatest western artists, of course.” (Howze)

Ford also borrowed techniques from Remington–such as diagonal composition and specific gestures illustrated by the artist–to flesh out his films. But art imitating life eventually became life rewritten by art. In a scene from “Fort Apache,” John Wayne’s character, Captain Yorke, discusses a painting named Thursday’s Charge with newspaper men. The painting depicts a brave charge, led by Colonel Thursday, against savage Apaches in warpaint. Although Captain Yorke knows the charge was ill-conceived and reckless, he maintains the bravado of the Colonel and states that the painting is “Correct in every detail.” Similarly, in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” one of the actors notes, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

Although he was a prolific and brilliant artist, Remington’s attitudes and personal beliefs aligned with the times, and he made several racist and bigoted remarks in letters to friends. He is reviled by some both for his comments, and for his paintings of battle scenes with white soldiers and cowboys dominating their bloody victims, such as in The Battle of Warbonnet Creek. But Remington was an American of the late 1800s and early 1900s. His views were reflective of his time and sympathetic to the American Cowboy, not to Native Americans or so-called “foreigners.” (Pinder)

In 1897, Remington was sent to Cuba in the wake of the Spanish American War to work as an illustrator/journalist for William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal. During this time, rumors of “one of the most famous stories in American journalism” was widely reported. Remington supposedly telegraphed to Hearst, “Everything is quiet. There is no trouble here. There will be no war. I wish to return.” Hearst was reported to have replied, “Please remain. You furnish the pictures, and I’ll furnish the war.” In “Not likely sent: The Remington-Hearst ‘Telegrams,’ “ W. Joseph Campbell states that it is “exceedingly unlikely that such messages were ever sent,” and was more likely a case of trying to prove that, by using yellow journalism, Hearst and his newspaper had forced the United States into war. (Campbell)

Revered and respected as an artist, Remington died when he was only 48 years old, succumbing to peritonitis after an emergency appendectomy. His legacy included more than 2,750 paintings and illustrations, eight books (including novels and collections of magazine articles) and 25 original sculptures (from which many castings were made).

In addition to Modern Comanche, the Forsyth Galleries are proud to offer our patrons the opportunity to view two other outstanding Remington paintings: Cowboys on a Cattle Thief’s Trail and Crossing Water to Escape a Prairie Fire, as well as paintings by Russell, Farny, Sharp, Fechin and many other celebrated Western artists.

Works Cited:

Ballinger, James K. Frederick Remington Art Museum. Website: http://fredericremington.org. Published 1989. Date accessed: November 12, 2012.

Buscombe, Edward. Painting the Legend: Frederic Remington and the Western. Cinema Journal , Vol. 23, No. 4 (Summer, 1984), pp. 12-27 . Published by: University of Texas Press on behalf of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies . Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1225261. Date accessed: November 13, 2012.

Campbell, W. Joseph. “Not likely sent: The Remington-Hearst ‘Telegrams”. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly.Website: http://www.academic2.american.edu/~wjc/notlikely.htm. Published Summer 2000. Date accessed: November 13, 2012.

Howze, W. The Influence of Western Painting and Genre Painting on the Films of John Ford, Connexions Website: http://cnx.org/content/col11357/1.1/. Sep 2, 2011. Date accessed: November 12, 2012.

Pinder, Kymberly N. Race-ing Art History: Critical Readings in Race and Art History. Published in 2002 by Routledge. Website: http://books.google.com/books?id=vk0k8qFPjykC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Date accessed: November 12, 2012.

Van Houten, Amy. The Spanish American War Centennial. Website: http://www.spanamwar.com/remington.htm. Date published: Unknown. Date accessed: November 12, 2012.

Featured Artist: Bob Ross

Robert “Bob” Norman Ross, through his television show The Joy of Painting on PBS, made art accessible to a generation of Americans and Canadians and taught them how to paint.  The show ran for 31 seasons, a total of 403 episodes, from 1983 until 1994.  Today (October 29, 2012) would have been Mr. Ross’ 70th birthday and Google produced a special doodle in his honor.  He passed away at the age of 52 after suffering from lymphoma for several years.

Mr. Ross joined the US Air Force after high school and began his painting career while still in the military.  He began developing his quick painting techniques in order to produce more canvases during his short work breaks.  Once he progressed to the point where he made more money selling his artwork than working in the military, he left the Air Force to become a full time artist.  He studied with German artist and television host Bill Alexander (who hosted The Magic World of Oil Painting for PBS) and fully developed the wet-on-wet painting technique with his mentor.

Bright Autumn Trees by Bob Ross, oil on canvas, image courtesy BobRoss.com

While serving in the Air Force, Mr. Ross had to take on positions where he shouted at lower ranking individuals and forced them to complete chores, scrub latrines, and screamed if they were late to work.  He reported that, once he left the military, he would never scream again.  Indeed, Mr. Ross became iconic in American culture for his soft voice and gentle words on The Joy of Painting.  The show still has a large internet presence on YouTube.  He is still teaching people to embrace art and paint “happy little clouds.”

To read more about Bob Ross: click here & here.

Saturday Links – 20th October 2012

I hope everyone is having an amazing and enjoyable weekend!  Check out these links to see some fun and interesting art found around the internet this week.  It’s 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) and sunny here in College Station, Texas…perfect weather for American football!  Stay happy and healthy, my friends.

Hammering coins into the bark of trees to wish for good health and recovery from illness is a tradition in Gwynedd, Wales, that dates back to the 1700s.  Click here!

This video by Phillip Scott Johnson details 500 years of female portraits in Western Art.  It’s been floating around the internet since 2007, but is always enjoyable.  Click here!

With all of the news about stolen or vandalized art, take a look at this stories from ArtLoss.com.  It’s wonderful to see that art can be recovered even years later!  Click here!

These Angry Birds piggy macarons are amazing and adorable!  Click here!

Red makes incredible portraits with unique materials.  Click here!

Drawspace.com has free lessons if you want to practice your drawing skills, but don’t have time to attend classes.  Click here!

Surrealist photography before Photoshop.  Click here!

Check out this amazing gallery of deep sea creatures.  Click here!

Studio Roosegaarde has created an amazing lotus dome made of hundreds of mylar flowers that react to the viewers body heat.  The result is an incredible piece of interactive art.  Click here!

This film by Renaud Hallee uses fire as a musical tool.  Click here!

Damien Hirst created this incredible sculpture, The Anatomy of an Angel, in 2008.  Click here!

Breaking News – 16 October 2012

My quest for upbeat art news for the blog has been foiled again.  The Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands, was robbed early this morning and seven priceless works of art were stolen.  The paintings removed in the heist include Waterloo Bridge, London (1901) and Charing Cross Bridge, London (1901) by Claude Monet, Harlequin Head (1971) by Picasso, and Reading Girl in White and Yellow (1919) by Matisse, Girl in Front of Open Window (1898) by Paul Gauguin, Self Portrait with a Japanese Background (circa 1890) by Meijer de Haan, and Woman with Eyes Closed (2002) by Lucian Freud.  The paintings were on loan from the privately held Triton Foundation collection.  This was the first time they were on exhibit to the public as a group.  The police are currently investigating the devastating theft.

For more information click here and here and here.

Charing Cross Bridge by Claude Monet, 1901
Waterloo Bridge, London by Claude Monet, 1901
Harlequin Head by Pablo Picasso, 1971
Girl Reading in White and Yellow by Henri Matisse, 1919
Girl in Front of Open Window by Paul Gauguin, 1898
Woman With Eyes Closed by Lucian Freud, 2002
Self Portrait with a Japanese Background by Meijer de Haan, circa 1890