Garric Simonsen & Michael Willett

Local Artist Gallery:  Craig Roper

January 2 - 31, 2014

Pentimenti, featuring work by Garric Simonsen (Spokane, Washington) & Michael Willett (Birmingham, AL) will run January 2nd – 31st, with an opening reception on the First Friday Artwalk January 2nd 6-10pm at Darger HQ.  Concurrently, Craig Roper will be showing his most recent work in the Local Artist Gallery in an exhibition entitled Retrieval/Redemption.   A pentimento (plural pentimenti) is an alteration in a painting, evidenced by traces of previous work, showing that the artist has changed his or her mind as to the composition during the process of painting.  All three artists reconstruct and deconstruct their artwork, often leaving a trace of their process. 

Garric Simonsen’s dry-etch paintings on wood create physical surfaces that suggest chaotic order, revealing visual traces of earlier stages of the painting.  Michael Willett’s dissects Artforum images in his collages; addressing popular culture and philosophical questions.  Craig Roper’s raw constructions, in particular, his Paintings Crushed by Rocks and Debris on the floor provide evidence of the physical construction of the work.   Another general commonality in the exhibition Pentimenti, is that all three artists deal with the ambiguity of history, pop culture and the illusion of the American dream.

Garric Simonsen’s work explores the possibilities of manipulating surface and materiality.   He employs numerous techniques, including dry-point etching with his paintings on wood.  Incised lines on wood panels allow for unconventional, sometimes gestural moments when naïve lines and skill converge on an experimental axis.  Simonsen often incorporate words that reflect social tropes, fragmented narratives or perceptive shifts.  Viewers of the artwork experience physical surfaces that suggest chaotic order, revealing visual traces of earlier stages of the painting.

Simonsen is a fourth-generation Washingtonian artist and musician.  He has shown at Platform Gallery (Seattle, WA), Seattle University (Seattle, WA), Disjecta Contemporary Art Center Parking Lot, Blackfish Gallery (Portland, OR), the 2010 Brucennial (NY, NY), University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI), Wheaton University (Norton, MA), Bradley University (Peoria, IL) and Collar Works Gallery (Troy, NY).  He had been awarded grants from the Vermont Studio Center, Artist Trust (Seattle, WA) and The James and Janie Washington Foundation (Seattle, WA). Other achievements include 2012 and 2014 nominations for Portland Art Museum’s Contemporary Northwest Art Awards, MFA Scholarship Award (WSU), Art Music Grant (WSU), JUNO Award (TESC), Mark Blakely Award (TESC).  Simonsen received his BA from the Evergreen State College and his MFA from Washington State University.  Simonsen is currently an assistant professor at Spokane Falls Community College.

Michael Willett’s recent work focuses on a series of collaged exhibition advertisements from the leading contemporary art periodical, Artforum International. Questions of authenticity, juxtaposition, and parody lie at the core of his studio practice. Images are dissected and reinterpreted while addressing a wide variety of references including popular culture and philosophical questions.  A majority of the collages are derived from merging two unrelated advertisements into one seemingly banal, yet cohesive image.

Willett lives and works in Birmingham, Alabama, and received his BFA from the University of Montevallo and his MFA from the University of Cincinnati.  He has shown at Limner Gallery in NY, O’Conner Art gallery at the Dominican University in Chicago and at the Tennnesse Valley Museum of Art.  Willett is currently an Assistant Professor and the Director of Foundations at the University of Montevallo. 

Craig Roper’s exhibition Retrieval/Redemption in the local artist gallery will include his most recent work; five mirror paintings on the wall and Paintings Crushed by Rocks and Debris on the floor.   Roper utilizes painting, photography, sculpture, assemblage and installation to address the ambiguity of history, the illusion of the American dream, popular culture and the vernacular landscape.  The Lincolnite rubble-rouser has exhibited at Richard/Bennett Gallery in Los Angeles, Sheldon Memorial Gallery, Elder Gallery at Wesleyan University and Richards Hall Gallery at University of Nebraska, amongst others.