Linda Warren Projects is proud to usher in 2013 with exhibitions by gallery artists Ed Valentine and Michael Stillion. Though both painters engage portraiture on the surface, each artist spins off from that trope, transcending the figure and presenting viewers with differing conceptual points of entry. In Ed Valentine’s “Somebody’s Beauty” in Gallery Y, and Michael Stillion’s “B.Z.C: Bent, Zigzag and Crooked” in Gallery X, both artists build pictures upon frameworks with endless potential for painting production.
Where Ed Valentine’s paintings inform through various formal cues, Ohio-based Michael Stillion seeks out symbols from the everyday in his exhibition “B. Z. C: Bent, Zigzag and Crooked,” which references the historical Bellaire, Zanesville and Cincinnati Railroad. Drawing inspiration from his hometown of Pleasant City and the surrounding Appalachian towns, Stillion finds meaning in the scarves, gloves, socks, jackets and capes that enshroud his neighbors. In his portraits, Stillion embraces these items and intuitively piles, wraps and hangs them on and about his subjects –his novel method of creating portraits without using the figure.
Citing Rembrandt, Van Eyck, Dürer, Caravaggio and tribal medicine man garb as historical touch points, Stillion invigorates these inanimate objects in order to relay the essence of personality that we typically expect a figure to embody. Variations in pattern, texture and draping distinguish each subject from another. The somber palette and peaked folds of Checkered Funeral contrast the bulbous knots and jaunty plumage of Feather In a Cap. But however different the subjects are from each other, what remains constant is a sense of withholding and of mystery created by what is never revealed.
Michael Stillion received his BFA in 2002 from Columbus College of Art and Design, and his MFA in 2007 from Indiana University in Bloomington. He has been the recipient of a Joan Mitchell Full Fellowship, an Ohio Arts Council Grant for Individual Excellence, as well as a One Year Full Fellowship to attend the Roswell Artist-in-Residence program. Stillion’s work has been exhibited in venues around the country including 1305 Gallery, Cincinnati; Birke Gallery at Marshall University, West Virginia; Riffe Gallery in Columbus, Ohio; Vaudeville Park in Brooklyn, New York; and Caestecker Art Gallery, Ripon College, Wisconsin. His work can be found in many private collections and was recently acquired by the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art in New Mexico.