Keene is no stranger to the art world. Frequently throughout the year there are artists showcasing their work, getting noticed by the people who make up the community.
Because of this, people in the area are able to come in and view new works of art, and students are able to study different techniques and styles.
[singlepic id=768 w=320 h=240 float=right]
On Thursday, Jan. 26, in the Carroll House Gallery on Main Street, the prints and paintings of a local artist, Bill Cass, were on display for an artists’ opening reception.
The gallery opens with the artist’s statement displayed on the wall.
The statement is about seven paragraphs long, and explains what the artist is trying to do with his works.
It tells the viewers, “My work is allegorical. A virtual narrative using symbolic images as its language.”
The writing goes on to tell readers and viewers of the art, about how he came to create such pieces, and how his background had influence on them.
It tells of the painting process, how the artist goes about starting and finishing his pieces, and the meaning that he derives from them.
At one point in the artist’s statement, it says, “The imagery I create is personal in nature; it has a fairly specific meaning for me. I do not intend viewers to get the same meanings from it that I do.” The words on the wall are truly a definition of what the artist is trying to do.
When asked about his beginnings as an artist, Cass said, “I always drew as a child, copying down images I liked or saw in comic books. I enjoyed other artists work, but never thought I would be into art.”
Cass started his artistic career in college, even though he was in a different field of study in the beginning.
“I originally went to school for architecture, but crossed over into painting and art.” After making the change Cass actively pursued the art community, spending time in Chicago taking in the unique art style found there. “I was able to experience the surreal, comic, pop art, and mid-80s styles of art.”
After learning the trade, he eventually became a teacher. More recently he has been going back to more traditional art, creating prints and paintings. “For the last twelve years I have gotten back into prints even more.”
The creations that Cass has brought to Carroll House are recently dated, ranging from 2007 to 2012, with the exception of one piece, “Paper Hat,” that is dated 1994.
The works of art spread out among the rooms are all fairly different, some are paintings, and some are specific types of prints such as wood cut or monoprint lithographs. The art itself however has similar recurring themes and images. One specific theme throughout some of the paintings and prints is the image of a man on a ladder.
One painting in particular, titled “Under the Clouds,” is of the man on a ladder surrounded by various images: a bicycle wheel, a translucent yellow face, a mannequin with a cone shaped body, all of these things and more are found under a cloudy blue sky.
In other paintings and prints such as “Debt Ceiling,” the man on the ladder can be found wearing a top hat, climbing towards a rippling sky.
Other works have bicycle wheels floating in the sky, the translucent yellow face looking out from other works, and the mannequin with the cone shaped body far off in the background. The prints hung around the gallery are mostly black and white; depicting figures and drawings of people that show up multiple times.
Other prints, such as “Slapstick #1, #2, and #3,” are simply drawings of men in different artistic poses. Almost all of the pieces have some sort of shared imagery or theme.
“I enjoy the playful quality of the art. It’s more traditional, the works being drawn and painted,” John Roberts, curator of the gallery and professor of art at Keene State College, said.
“Overall, the works are exciting Chicago-style art. In a way, Bill is bringing Chicago up here to the Northeast.”
For the past two years Cass has been living in Keene, taking inspiration from many things to make the pieces found in the gallery.
“In Debt Ceiling I have a carpet bagger climbing a ladder, coming in and messing things all up.” He has taken events such as the gulf oil spill, influence from politics, observations from the environment, and used them as fuel for his creations. “I get inspired from what goes on.”
The artwork of Bill Cass will be displayed in Carroll House Gallery until February 18th. For more information about art shows at the Carroll House Gallery, you can visit www.academics.keene.edu/art/
Eric Jedd can be contacted at email@example.com