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Pioneer Driven Mad

Dana Depew and Matthew Dibble Pair Up to Look at the Past 

If you're making the monthly foray over to Third Fridays at 78th Street Studios, be sure to wander over to Bruno Casiano in Gordon Square as well. From 6 to 10 p.m., the gallery will be hosting a reception for new work from four local artists: Dana Depew and Matthew Dibble, as well as Dean Shaffer and Barney Taxel.

Casiano's main gallery space hosts Depew and Dibble's Pioneer Driven Mad, an exhibition showcasing Depew's latest installation work and Dibble's newest, large-scale paintings.

Depew and Dibble make very different work, but both have long established themselves as two of the most active and prolific artists in the region. The pairing makes for interesting viewing.

For Pioneer Driven Mad, Depew has created a life-size, functional, pioneer chuck wagon using exclusively found and reclaimed materials.

"This installation will include an audio and video element consisting of footage from Western movies enclosed in wooden boxes stacked on the gallery floor," explains Depew. "The chuck wagon will serve chili, baked beans, and corn bread at the opening, so bring your appetite."

Depew found additional inspiration from a rather unique source — Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

Actually, to be more specific, Depew was inspired by the documentary Room 237, which offers a variety of theories concerning Kubrick's hidden symbolism in The Shining.

"The Shining has been long believed to be about the genocide of Native Americans, because there is imagery throughout the film associated with the American West," explains Depew. "For instance, cans of Calumet Baking Powder are noticeable in the background of two important scenes. Because a calumet is a peace pipe, and the cans featured the image of a Native American, one analyst believed that American imperialism was the subtext of the film."

For example, Depew re-contextualizes a can of Calumet baking soda in homage to Marcel Duchamp's ready-mades and titles the piece, "Kubrick Readymade (The Shining, 1980)."

If you've seen Room 237, you'll enjoy exploring and deciphering Depew's chuck wagon as much as the filmmakers dissected Kubrick's film. As usual, Depew's work is as intelligent as it is humorous.

"A long time ago, the early American pioneers embarked on a perilous journey of hardship in order to have a better life," reflects Depew. "They endured harsh conditions, bitter winters, and the potential of being scalped by Indians. They believed this temporary misery was all worth it. The chuck wagon was a pivotal component to the trek westward. It provided sustenance and nourishment to these hopeful travelers."

Depew found inspiration in the parallels between these frontiersmen and contemporary Clevelanders.

"Maybe someday in the distant future, we Clevelanders will be viewed as 'pioneers,'" adds Depew. "We have endured similar hardships such as brutal winters, potholes, poor public schools, government corruption, and the continual embarrassment from our local sports teams -- all because we have hope that things will get better."

Dibble's large-scale, abstract, figurative paintings are created with an assortment of techniques. The figures appear through confident, expressive brushwork over various grounds of paint and (occasionally) local newspaper clippings.

These newspapers in particular offer insight into Dibble's creative process. The stories become the backdrop for his artwork, but these same stories distract and affect the artist in profound (and often negative) ways.

"Getting away from my work for a few days, I realize I don't know what it means to be an artist," admits Dibble in his artist statement for Pioneer Driven Mad. "Life's pull is strong, and I forget my aim. Fascinated with pop culture and the desire to create wealth, I begin to fall asleep and get caught up in the grinding of life. Worries, anxieties and fears distract and hold my attention.

"A certain freedom that was once possible is far away," he continues. "Other people seem to know a secret about life and the importance of acquiring things; happily I'm ready to join them. Looking for balance and always hoping for a better tomorrow are my worst sins, not allowing me to experience my life fully."

These new paintings reflect Dibble's current thought process. The artist finds himself examining his present through thoughts of his past and future.

"This is my situation, moment to moment, day to day and year to year," explains Dibble. "Where the figures in these paintings come from is a mystery. Dominating the scene, they emerge like rebellious children seeking attention from their elders."

Dibble's expressive paintings juxtapose line, form, shape, texture and color; blurring the traditional line between abstraction and representational work.

This new work is quite ambitious in terms of both scale and techniques.

The artwork fits especially well in Casiano's beautiful space, which recently received a facelift thanks to the installation of new storefront windows.

One of the oldest surviving structures in Gordon Square, the building was originally constructed in 1867 and once functioned as a speakeasy during prohibition.

"I feel like a pioneer myself," says Casiano. "Looking back, when I first opened the gallery in 2002, Detroit Avenue was just a big open canvas awaiting a chance to create and we have been here since!

"I hope to see resurgence in the support of local artists, where people come from other places to buy art instead of going to New York or Chicago".

Casiano's "Speak Easy" Gallery, on the lower level of the building, features photography by Barney Taxel and cityscapes by painter Dean Shaffer.

Arts Lead-Cleveland Scene, March 18th  2015

Posted by Matthew Dibble on 3/18/15 | tags: modern pop installation mixed-media sculpture figurative abstract drawing painting

Matthew Dibble Painting Exhibition





Solo Exhibition by Matthew Dibble


"Never Counted, Never Named" 43.5" x 38" oil on canvas



March 7th through March 29th

The process that we go through in the selection of artists to be represented by the gallery is often one that comes from the heart.  Likewise, it is one that takes into consideration how we project our market will respond to the artists' work. We often are willing to take risks when we feel so strongly about a particular artist.  Our show this month is one that we feel is unique, engaging and aggressive....all qualities that we embrace as a gallery.  Matthew Dibble is dedicated to his work as an artist and, like us, is willing to put himself out there as he creates his art. We greatly admire this trait and are honored to have Matthew join our gallery.  Below is a statement from him that describes his approach to creating his artwork.

My wish is to live in the real world. I have a natural curiosity about my place on earth and a thirst for sincerity in all forms. These paintings are a glimpse into what happens when this very active inner life and the outer world come in contact.  I’m trying to approach the work as a tradesman approaches his job, in a very ordinary way, with a watchful attention and a certain confidence that comes from experience while at the same time searching for something new. 

In the studio, my aim is to be fearless. For years, I believed that I was taking risks with my paintings. At one point, I questioned this belief. What was I risking? There was no danger except to my ego. I realized that I entered the studio with a picture of myself and a vision for my painting, and that both were huge obstacles to my creative process. How could I lose this barrier? It may seem as if these questions have nothing to do with painting, but, like many artists, the way I approach my work is important to me. If I begin with the same mindset, I usually get the same results. I can always paint a clever picture, that’s not my goal.
I’m trying to create work that's fresh, that has heart and authenticity, that's flavored with experimentation and discovery. I may often fall short, but it is the journey that has engaged me for the last 30 years. 


Stuttering Geisha 50 x 46 oil on canvas
Hail Damage 50 x 46 oil on canvas
Dim Cheer 45 x 45 mixed media on canvas
Grapeshot Road 8.5 x 11 collage
Byzantine Glaze 7 x 6 drawing/collage
Elegant Retreat 11 x 8.5 collage
Prince of Cranberry 75 x 52 oil on canvas
Public Letter Writer 68 x 80 oil on canvas
Civil War Prize 36 x 24 oil on canvas
Candid Muralist 36 x 25 oil on paper mounted on canvas
Burping Salamander 36 x 25 oil on paper mounted on canvas
Flop Sweat 55 x 47 oil on canvas
Hindu Builder 32 x 27 oil on paper mounted on canvas
Glamourous Acrobat 32 x 27 oil on paper mounted on canvas
Collage #4 mixed media collage
Together with Moths 75 x 80 oil on canvas
Posted by Matthew Dibble on 3/5/14

A Visual Conversation: The Paintings of Matthew Dibble

A Visual Conversation: The Paintings of Matthew Dibble

By Katherine Aimone

Fondue Party, 2013, enamel and newsprint on canvas, 55 x 82 in.

Too much thinking can be an obstacle for me when painting; the ‘judge’ always seems to get in the way. My connection can only be found in the moment, and I often come back to a sense of my feet on the floor while painting. During these moments some real work is possible…. As artists, we do much better trying to keep things simple. We do better to compare ourselves solely to ourselves. Self-inventory is useful, while self-condemnation is not. Without calling our whole identity into question, there are inquiries that we can fruitfully ask. How am I developing as an artist? Am I doing the work necessary for me to mature? Did I work today? Yes? Well, that’s good. Working today is what gives us currency and self-respect. There is dignity in work. —Matthew Dibble

Matthew Dibble’s large-scale abstract work has evolved over the course of many years of day-to-day dedication. The energy on his canvases is scrappy, adventurous, unapologetic, and direct. The volume of work he produces reflects his energy and determination to evolve as a painter.

Matthew Dibble in studio, Cleveland, Ohio

     Matthew Dibble in studio, Cleveland, Ohio

In the spirit of the Abstract Expressionists, Dibble is an experiential and experimental painter. When describing his  inclination to use unusual materials, he notes: “I’ve taken a drop cloth right off the floor, cut it up, and fastened to the canvas. Sometimes I don’t even use a brush. I might use sticks, rags, trowels, thumbtacks and bare hands….”

His description of the process behind the creation of the large-scale painting titled Fondue Party (2013) underscores this idea:

I started by covering this canvas with white enamel house paint, then attaching newsprint. I draw into the newsprint with conte crayon and then cut the lines out with a razor blade. I painted over the lines with a sponge brush and black enamel. Then I began to pull pieces of the newsprint off and moved them around and back, working until the image made sense. This usually happens quickly.

Fondue Party, 2013, enamel and newsprint on canvas, 55 x 82 in.

    Fondue Party, 2013, enamel and newsprint on canvas, 55 x 82 in.

Dibble’s physical stature corresponds with the scale of his work, and there is an active athleticism in the dynamic surfaces of his pieces. In the realm of both materials and method, one can see that his dual life as a painter and roofer are inevitably intertwined. During the past year, he began attaching large canvases to an easel with thumbtacks for practical reasons, prior to incorporating them into the compositions. In Clifton and Baltic (2013), enamel and charcoal are punctuated by the staccato of the tiny metal circles.

I take in new impressions all the time. For instance, I remember working on a roofing crew, mopping down hot tar. I was fascinated with the shapes that occurred with the tar floating on the brown recovery board. I see abstract relationships everywhere…

Black, floating shapes in Clifton and Baltic lead the eye in an almost circular movement, guiding the viewer through the subtleties of the many pieces of a complex and interesting puzzle. An eccentric energy in the overall piece keeps the viewer returning to the composition, wandering through inviting spaces. The highly textural nature of the surface is a byproduct of moving pieces of painted and worked paper around and reworking it.

Clifton and Baltic, 2013, enamel, charcoal, and thumbtacks on canvas, 52 x 60 in.

    Clifton and Baltic, 2013, enamel, charcoal, and thumbtacks on canvas, 52 x 60 in.

The same improvisational freedom reigns in Temple Hum, also painted this year. Its vertical format compresses and energizes forms similar to the more restful and languid ones in the horizontal Clifton and Baltic. Painterly surfaces merge and commune with one another—visual sensations advance and recede to create a sense of depth. Detailed areas show a history of separate painted or drawn surfaces that have been cut and unified. In these works he seems to be exploring detailed passages while working toward overall coalescence, giving birth to a fusion of forces.

Temple Hum, 2013, enamel, charcoal, and thumbtacks on canvas, 48 x 44 in.

    Temple Hum, 2013, enamel, charcoal, and thumbtacks on canvas, 48 x 44 in.

The activity and exciting buzz in Dibble’s work is, however, not achieved out of a frenzied way of working. He characteristically sits for a period of time in his studio prior to painting, letting go of thoughts and allowing spaciousness. Although he chooses to ask questions that prompt him to push his work, he practices this inquiry without creating stumbling blocks. In his artist’s statement he describes the process of bringing himself into focus:

…I begin to let go of my old ideas, my habitual way of doing things, my grasping approach. I notice another part of myself, a deeper, quieter part. Instead of trying to make something happen, I try to allow this other voice to surface.

Private Memory (2013) is done on a large sheet of blueprint paper with enamel, charcoal, and pieces of paper. In this mixed-media painting the crisp edges of elements of Temple Hum settle into a state of blurred, organic flux. “I can’t say I understand intellectually how a painting is created. After I start, the process begins to guide me and I feel my way through,” he notes.

Private Memory, 2013, enamel, charcoal, and paper on canvas, 50 x 46 in.

     Private Memory, 2013, enamel, charcoal, and paper on canvas, 50 x 46 in.

A willingness to move in a natural way between styles and media (all related in language) contributes successfully to Dibble’s evolution as an artist. He creates and finds intersections between his many incarnations of work: “I’m always revisiting my past work. A thin line connects my work and life: past, present and future. But most important is the present.”

The artist also does small drawings that he has created since he was young. Drawing is the grounding force for his work, and he returns to create them when painting feels like too much for him.

He has used these evocative drawings to create a second large-scale body of work made by projecting and enlarging them on canvases. These paintings seem to serve as a compositional bridge between drawing and nonobjective pieces. Bits and pieces of the distinctive language of line emerge in the shapes and overall compositions of the abstract works. He notes: “The connection between the two works seems to be a bridge that links the mind and feeling.” The artist’s ability to deal with seeming dualities, harmonizing them in ways that are complementary, guides the evolution of his work and life.

The way I’m working right now feels very natural and the language makes sense. I was 45 years old before I began to paint well, struggling for many years to find my way. It is a mystery to me why I stayed with it, but all of my work is tied to one thing—a search for meaning.

 Figure drawings



















Posted by Matthew Dibble on 2/23/13 | tags: mixed-media figurative abstract drawing painting

Our Harsh Reality

Matt Dibble's paintings share the gritty thrill of local life

by Douglas Max Utter

 Matt Dibble's abstract painting "Lake Erie Shoreline" feels like a long minute lived somewhere along Ohio's north coast. The small work mixes brutal masses of bluish black with streaks and splashes of white, as if the painter had ripped a cold chunk out of a March day. It's a painting that remembers intimate, difficult things — the way an early morning fits roughly over the night before, and how easily the wind unravels the sunshine.

At least that's the way Cleveland often feels during its long winter. And some of Dibble's latest oil paintings, now on display in Aspects of Modern Life at Tregoning & Company bring it all back. Not that everything is so grim. A few of the works, like the large, almost impressionistic "Emptied Countryside," positively bloom, with bursts of light pink and gray-blue pushing around a six-foot-square surface.

Plus, there's the fact that this painter's rough, patched-seeming, highly textural visions often have a sort of curbside appeal. Not that Dibble's view is from the curb. There's no ad for a cozy lifestyle embedded in this work. The hard-looking surfaces he paints are often actually much like the curb itself — a place down by the cracked street, where mud and snow pile together during long gray days, filled with the harsh excitement of life's challenges. Like life itself in Cleveland, things may be hard in this painted world, but they're not boring.

Simply put, these are good paintings because they're about real things. They convey the daily contrasts of comfort and unease, effort and balance, while speaking also of qualities of the spirit. Determination, discouragement, and discovery are all part of the action.

Like 1950s action paintings, they're partly about the body's movements and partly about effort. Yet there is a big difference between what Dibble does and what the men and women of his parents' generation painted. His crossings and sudden combinations weave workmanlike solutions to a question that was rarely asked so explicitly in an earlier era: What does it mean — what does it look like — to build a practical exercise that has as few aesthetic or philosophical pretensions as possible? It's a matter of tense, too, and effectualness: What is the nature of the thing that has happened; when is a job done? If the individual expression that artists once sought now seems naive, it's still true that the problem of fitting the gray into the brown, or bending it across the blue, is entirely one's own business, like washing your feet.

That's one way these paintings do their job: by asking no more than that. But they're also successful because, in the process of asking and answering such purely physical questions, they end up describing specific places and states, in terms that have both geographical and spiritual elements. The fact that Matt Dibble has worked as a roofer for more than two decades (though he's been an exhibiting artist for even longer), and that he is able to make paintings that re-create aspects of that perilous and demanding occupation, is literally a big part of the picture here. There's a level of sensitivity that endless climbing and hammering and looking have made possible.

But maybe most important is the fact that the experience he re-creates in such tactile detail is part of the spirit of the place in which he lives.

In a way, Dibble's exhibition is about here and now, and about Cleveland. But it covers more ground than that. Two of the finest titles in the show are "Middle Is Everywhere" and "Starved Wolf." The first describes exactly what Dibble does. And with the other phrase, you can almost see Dibble's wolf chewing away at the empty spaces of the canvas. It's a reminder that every mark makes a home for the mind's zoo of images, and that every line feeds the spirit.



Posted by Matthew Dibble on 4/20/11

Matt Dibble: Up on the Roof

by Douglas Max Utter

 A painting’s subject matter and formal qualities lodge in the reasonable parts of the brain, but more subtle surface features also exude significance, impressing the subconscious.  Meaning derives, also, from the motions of repeated gestures or marks, and the way that successive layers of substance and attention suggest a play of dreamlike equivalences.  Extremes of opacity and transparency link up through a range of visual clues, and for a moment the eye is surprised and the world is refreshed.

Matt Dibble is an American artist who has installed and maintained roofs for several decades. Because he is a very good painter, his day job matters – as everything matters, if life is to be realized as an aesthetic whole. It may well be that Dibble’s different kinds of labor overlap, and in some sense complete one other. For one thing, a roof must accommodate stress and changing needs, so it encodes many kinds of knowledge -- an understanding of seasons and materials, of comfort and security and needs of the body and mind. Then there is the strangeness of roofing, which parallels the oddness of painting. To make a work that resists the changing microclimates of mind and spirit, an artist must enter his own memory and senses from a different angle, climb up and pry parts away, repair and recover the gaps between things.  He must balance and risk, and in the end it may happen that he sees his surroundings from a surprising, slightly inhuman angle.

 Dibble divides his efforts even further; he produces two kinds of painting. His brushy abstract gestures rush into the paint like a gust of wind. Sometimes they lose themselves in explosions of color and texture, but more often there is a solution to the chaos – a sense of a new creative order hanging like smoke over shattered visions. In another mood, Dibble also invents calmly restrained, transparent-seeming works. In these the spare outlines of mysterious figures float in a monochromatic dimension. Around them are blueprint-like depictions of utilitarian objects and generic, domestic rooms. The painter shows us an arch, a filing cabinet, an air compressor, and next to them hybrid creatures that might have been borrowed from a medieval bestiary – a minotaur’s cousin, a sort of selkie, and others. These characters seem emptied of their stories and therefore toothless, yet a flickering in the background, like distant lightening, suggests there is meaning, and power, here also. Embedded in the mundane circuitry of everyday understanding, the energies of myth persist.

 Dibble empties and fills his canvases, revealing the joists of older worlds, or plumbing and modeling the thick, brief, worldly flesh that paint can so vividly evoke. His more overtly expressive works are doubly rooted in a passion for material experience, and in art history. He eulogizes, and exercises, and exorcizes the dry sinews and still vital spirits of Willem DeKooning, Arshile Gorky, and other mid twentieth century artists, often finding brand new energies.  The schematic paintings, on the other hand, visit the design componants, the code, of an older world, like fragments of the hidden script that underwrite each human mind. Together Dibble’s seemingly opposed bodies of work – dealing with the thickness of incarnation, or the limpid purity of geometry and myth, add up to a vision seen from a high and unusual place. Few painters have so broad or sharp or strange a view.

Posted by Matthew Dibble on 3/27/11 | tags: abstract

Above, Below, Within: Matt Dibble at Arts Collinwood-Preview from Giraffe Trap Magazine Issue 2

 Matt Dibble’s fast-paced abstract paintings, displayed this past month at in an exhibit titled “Hope for the Picture Guild,” are all
about the precarious thrill of physical movement through space, and the
dissolution of form that flickers at the edge of vision.  Curated by University of
professor Del Ray Loven, the exhibit concentrates on recent works by
Dibble that take the action-packed gestural repertoire of  1950’s Abstract
Expressionism as their point of departure. Willem DeKooning’s virtuoso
deconstructed landscapes are the main precursors of Dibble’s works here, and
Hans Hoffman’s influential experiments in visual layering, but the similarities
can be misleading. The moves look much the same, but add up to a more
introspective vision -- one that is still painterly, yet gives a postmodern account of
randomness.  Dibble’s hard-working manner and often unpretentious scale
emphasizes the perspiration part of painterly genius. At the same time, this is a
show notable for its profoundly quiet intelligence, grounded in the background
noise of visual commonplaces. Far from merely revisiting an older style, Dibble
provides entirely contemporary comments on both the art historical moment he
remembers, and the way things have changed over the past half century. Dibble’
s works reflect on the gathering speed and complexity of the present moment,
and the way that personal decisions delineate change.
       “Knoxville Embalmed” (2008), a roughly two foot square canvas, makes the
looming, slashing liberties of a vintage DeKooning seem almost claustrophobic.
Deep, distance-like pockets yawn behind deftly entwined marks and strokes, as
the eye is alternately coaxed and rushed into a hybrid pictorial space.  Dibble’s
pale paint has a sun-bleached look, tightly packed on the surface like trash
clumped in a cul-de-sac. Scrape marks and brush strokes shove or drag,
pushing and pulling against each other. Half-buried rectangles are spread patch-
like here and there, like trowelled adhesive cement. In “On Island McGee,” they’re
stretched and pulled and twisted upwards. The images that emerge from these
actions could be buildings and trees, water and sky – but felt more than seen.
Dibble’s textures and combinations are terribly intimate, their rough and smooth
passages brought up against the eye. They promise sensation, as if on the brink
of sounding, tasting, and smelling.
       In a statement accompanying the exhibit Del Ray Loven talks about Willem
DeKooning. “He said that when he was standing upright and secure on two feet,
he didn’t feel like he was getting it right, but when he started to slip, just for a
moment before he fell, he’d have a glimpse of the reality he wanted to paint.”
Dibble’s paintings are vertiginous by the standards of ordinary vision; the “view”
is looking at us. Dibble says of this current series, “Sometimes I felt I was inside
and behind the painting, working my way out.” He also mentions an old adage
that adds three more points to the usual compass: above, within, and below. The
paintings at “Hope for the Picture Guild” find their subjects inside the skin of daily
experience, rubbing along the underside of familiar scenes as they mix inner
and outer perspectives.

Douglas Max Utter

October 13th 2010

Posted by Matthew Dibble on 10/14/10 | tags: abstract

Matt Dibble at Arts Collinwood : Sept. 17th through Oct 16th 2010

“Hope for the Picture Guild” is the title of Matt’s latest show which opened Friday September 17 at the Arts Collinwood Gallery  on Cleveland’s east side and is appropriately named as the show itself seems to be a counterpunch to the Postmodernist assertion that painting is dead.

 The show consists of 17 abstract works on canvas selected from the artist’s recent body of work by Del Rey Loven, painting professor at the University of Akron, who served as a kind of curator for the venue. The space at Arts Collinwood provided a perfect setting for this show as the atmosphere of the neighborhood served as the ideal backdrop for Matt’s work. As one approaches the gallery from the street, you feel as if you could very well be in New York in the late 40’s and 50’s as the bold, gutsy paintings by Dibble are evident in this gritty but efficient space.

 The first painting that grabs your attention from its position on the street-facing wall is a large black and white 70x76 inch oil on canvas titled, “Bachelors Still Asleep.” Its spontaneous strokes of black over a white background immediately recall the work of Franz Kline. However, Dibble is not imitating Kline here. There seems to be a hidden order of repetitive pattern that the viewer is invited to solve. It is kind of like those aptitude tests where you are given a series of three numbers, discern the pattern, and come up with the next number in the sequence.

 Canvases of various sizes are hung well and the show comes together in a comprehensive, purposeful manner. Loven has done an excellent job here and this body of work speaks to a definite thesis. The larger works seem to be more successful than the smaller ones, and perhaps the strongest two are the 72”x84” “Penchant for Dueling” and the 80”x80” “Frowning Alpine”, both oils on canvas. Both works are aggressive multi-layered, multi-colored abstracts which are respectful nods to the patron saint of AbEx painting, Willem Dekooning. The scraps of newspaper impregnated into the paint works like a signature to those familiar with the nitty-gritty of DeKooning’s work. Although his gestures are bold, Dibble’s colors are of a soft muted key and are very carefully controlled to be just unsettling enough to eschew decoration.    

 As you move through the exhibition and begin to digest these paintings, Dibble’s brilliance becomes more evident. It hits you square in the eyes. These works are not nostalgic imitations pulled from the by-gone era of abstract expressionism, but relevant and valid ideas that resonate today. It is clear from the vibe on the streets of the historic Collinwood neighborhood: the bohemians strolling along the sidewalks, the DJ setting up on the corner, the street musicians, and the funky shops. This is work of the here and now. Painting is not dead. Dibble’s show at Arts Collinwood challenges the Postmodernism notion that you must tear down the past in order to create something new. “Hope for the Picture Guild” articulates nicely that we are not done learning from the past and offers an inside joke to those that are listening.

 By Bill Chill

 The space is surprisingly well suited for the paintings and Del Ray curated a very good show here, well balanced to the room, with each work to the others.

 It is also very well installed.

 William Tregoning- Art Dealer

 Matt's paintings are gutsy. He has a firm understanding of underlying structure--his instincts in regard to composition, color and application place him in very select company. This is a powerful exhibition of top-tier work.

 Ross Lesko- Director, Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery

Matt Dibble gets his work to come to life in the painting process. He creates space there, in the paintings, that’s all it’s own … Dibble puts color upon color, shape upon shape in a manner that is both first rate craftsmanship and high-risk aesthetic adventurism. I selected these paintings because they represent Matt at the top of his game.”

 Professor Del Rey Loven-Mary Schiller Myers School of Art

Posted by Matthew Dibble on 9/20/10

New Abstract Paintings by Matthew Dibble to Debut




for immediate release

CLEVELAND — August 30, 2010 — On Friday, September 17, Arts Collinwood Gallery will showcase recent abstract paintings from Cleveland artist Matthew Dibble in a solo exhibition titled “Hope for the Picture Guild.” The paintings will be on display through October 16.

 For this show, works were selected by Del Rey Loven, Director, Mary Schiller Myers School of Art, Akron University.

 Loven explains, “Matt Dibble gets his work to come to life in the painting process. He creates space there, in the paintings, that’s all it’s own … Dibble puts color upon color, shape upon shape in a manner that is both first rate craftsmanship and high-risk aesthetic adventurism. I selected these paintings because they represent Matt at the top of his game.”

 Steven Litt, winner of the 2010 Cleveland Arts Prize and critic for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, commented in a recent review, “Dibble has oceans of energy and a great deal of visual intelligence.”

 French collector and critic Christian Schmitt (, said of Dibble’s abstract work, “Painter of the absolute, M. Dibble requires that art reveal to him the absolute of being. This is why his abstracts are ravaged by an abundance of impulses. The massiveness, debauchery and violence of the brush strokes seem to violently provoke the paint so that the hidden, the unsaid, is unveiled.”

 Douglas Max Utter, noted Cleveland artist, critic, and editor of e-zine Giraffe Trap (, commented, “For a painter’s painter like Dibble, versed in the tensions of modernist work from Cezanne to DeKooning, the central activity of his art is to choreograph an ever more intense dance involving these two eternally incompatible partners [drawing and painting].”

 Dibble’s work has been exhibited at various venues such as the Cleveland Museum of Art,  S.P.A.C.E.S., and the Butler Institute of American Art. His paintings and drawings reside in private and corporate collections in the U.S. and France.

 Arts Collinwood is located at 15601 Wateloo Rd. in the Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland. For more information, visit  For more information on Matthew Dibble, please visit

 Media Contact

 Michelle Maniscalco




Posted by Matthew Dibble on 8/31/10

Press Release



For immediate release

AUGUST 10, 2009



©Matthew Dibble 2009

Solo Exhibition of New Work by Matthew Dibble Opens at Asterisk Gallery

CLEVELAND—August 10, 2009—On Friday, August 14th,  Asterisk Gallery in Tremont will showcase recent figurative work from Cleveland artist Matthew Dibble in a solo exhibition consisting of ten drawings and fourteen paintings. The exhibition is titled “Equipping the Shop for Action,” and runs through September 5th.  According to Dibble, the title is not to be taken literally, but is a metaphor for the psychological preparation he undertook before completing this series of work.


The paintings in this exhibit were inspired by an ongoing series of figurative pen-and-ink drawings that the artist has been producing since his days in art school. Commenting on the paintings, well-known artist and writer Douglas Max Utter said, “Like half-remembered myths, Dibble’s figures move as outlines across a patchwork ground of light and shade … part hero, part clown, tumbling in a world that is no more than a back-drop for their antics. They are perhaps like skins of light, shed in the process of personal change.”

The drawings on display were selected by Christopher Pekoc, the 2007 Cleveland Arts Prize winner who also curated the first public exhibition of Dibble’s drawings in 2005. Pekoc explains, “In his drawings, Matt produces an elegant line drawn with a sure and sensitive hand. He fills these small worlds with mystery and beauty. I am attracted to them because of their uniqueness and originality, and also because I suspect that their source lies deep within the artist’s creative core.”

Pekoc will also participate as a panelist in an artists’ dialogue at the gallery on Saturday, August 15th at 3 pm, along with innovative neon artist Jeffry Chiplis, Utter, and Dibble.

Dibble’s work has been exhibited at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Tregoning & Company, and the Butler Institute of American Art, and resides in private and corporate collections.

Asterisk Gallery is located at 2393 Professor Ave. in the historic Tremont area of Cleveland. For more information, contact artist and gallery owner Dana Depew at 330-304-8528 or For more information on Matt Dibble, please visit “Equipping the Shop for Action” will be on view from August 14th through September 5th.

Posted by Matthew Dibble on 8/8/09 | tags: abstract figurative modern

Equipping the Shop For Action

Asterisk Gallery Proudly Presents 

"Equipping the Shop for Action"

 New Works by Matthew Dibble, with drawings selected by Christopher Pekoc.

This exhibition is a series of paintings and drawings that concern the artists search to discover something new and a response to conditions in the studio

 Opening reception Friday August 14, 2009, 6-11pm on Sat Aug 15 at 4pm join us for an Artist Exchange with the following panelists:

Christopher Pekoc- cleveland arts prize winner.

Douglas Max Utter - nationally known painter and writer.

Jeffrey Chiplis -certified barbecue judge and carrot king.

2393 Professor Ave.  in Historic Tremont.


Show runs through Sept 5

hours by appt.

Special thanks to  Mark and Bruce Schantz for guiding me in the study of shop maintenance.

 "How nice to feel nothing and still get the full credit for being alive".

Kurt Vonnegut-Slaughterhouse Five

Posted by Matthew Dibble on 6/28/09 | tags: abstract figurative modern

Guarding the Well


Guarding the Well

 On the surface these paintings are very ordinary and not meant to be taken literally.

During certain times of year, the ancient Celts "guarded their wells" from being poisoned. I'm interested in the inner meaning of this story; it seems related to my search. I have noticed in myself two natures: one grasping for a shortcut to enlightenment, and another more patient and allowing. This deeper part of me needs to be nourished, but how?

I spend most of my working life fragmented while giving little time to quiet searching. Why bother there's never any "payoff?" But if I'm physically still enough and able to abandon old ideas and habits, I find a deeper, more reliable place that has a different taste. The questioning process begins: Why keep painting?

Somehow, the answer is connected to feeling. The new paintings are about inner postures and states, unseen things, aspects of my nature I am unable to put in words.

These acts of painting have helped me become more related to my inner world.

My purpose is not to confuse or be mysterious but to follow my interests and be open enough to allow these images to come through me. This process helps to feed the deeper parts of myself, places not accessible by ordinary efforts.


Posted by Matthew Dibble on 5/12/09

For immediate release


Skins of Light: An Appreciation

Matt Dibble on display at Tregoning & Company

By Douglas Max Utter

Like half-remembered myths Matt Dibble's figures move as outlines across a patchwork ground of light and shade, color and pattern. In his painting Light Wounds of Early Youth, the half- inch dark brown line that defines the figure moves fluidly over a mottled background of pale pastel colors. This flat, uninflected stroke might be used to render a geometric shape in another sort of painting, and here it retains something of that formal, expository quality: it seems as if the figure depicted is a theorem, as much or more than a person. Perhaps each of these characters in recent paintings like Facing Down Giants, Missing Rungs, and Break Ornaments, Spill Food, is a constellation of a sort, a depiction of the imaginary lines that tenuously connect distant explosions of experience, seen or sensed in a painting long after the fact.

For most of the past three decades Dibble has been known mainly as a painter of expressive abstract works that emphasize the physical qualities of the painted surface. These often very active, crowded compositions seem to enact collisions between figure and ground, As with the ambitious, emotive physicality of paintings by Willem De Kooning or Jackson Pollock from the early 1950's, Dibble's works of this type are agons, battles between the artist's dynamic gesture and the limits of the various surfaces (panel, canvas, etc.) he chooses; on the sidelines we also can sense the usual spectators: the idea of literal depiction, and traces of the self. His Quarry (2005), for instance, which deliberately echoes the dimensions and energies of DeKooning's seminal Excavation (1950), is an account of violence, but also of concealment. DeKooning's shattered fragments seem to represent the half-buried carnage of the Second World War, while the paper bag-brown rectilinear shapes that cobble over Dibble's space might be seen to resemble the iconic hooded prisoner at Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

The source of Dibble's figurative paintings is an ongoing series of small, lithe ink drawings. As fluid as calligraphy, they are at once the opposite of his tumultuous abstractions, and their complement. While his non-representational works explore as wide a range as possible of the visual incidents that chemistry and gesture can generate, Dibble's drawings are in equal measure restrained. And yet the paintings which are exact enlargements of these quiet graphic interludes seem like a more sober articulation of the same visceral strain and drama. Limpid in their quietness and crisp, these drawn works are examples of transformation, cutting and pruning the human figure and the space in which it is embedded with sharp triangular sections, like thorns.

In Light Wounds of Early Youth the nude male figure is located, just barely, in interior space. He leans with a distorted limb against a yellow plane, which seems to be part of a room, or the thought of a room. If before leaning the limb was an arm, it has changed; it flattens out at the end and has an armored, spiked appearance. The artist has caught this personage in mid-metamorphosis, as if he were a Celtic selkie just returned from the sea. His stocky, amphibian legs stand on rectangular, toe-less feet, and the room itself is insubstantial with its oddly rounded floor and thinly applied paint, like an hallucination. An even  less structured ground flickers within the breast of the creature ; it is tempting to associate the title with this flickering: here are transcendent wounds of light,  as well as superficial bodily or emotional injuries -- the sort of marks that Jacob might have received as he wrestled with the angel.

There is often also a sly sense of humor about Dibble's paintings. In Light Wounds the figure's stately, almost sculptural head has been placed upside down on his stocky neck, as if he had hastily reassembled himself and got that part completely wrong. Or it could be that he's just fooling around, enjoying a newfound freedom of posture. There is, really, nothing very definite about him. The few strokes that depict his genitalia are perfunctory and cherubic. He stands balanced on his right leg, with his foot turned inward, like a bashful boy. The curved green floor at his feet and the square, deep blue window behind his left elbow don't confine his transformation, but frame it. In such paintings Dibble gives us quick maps of meditative states of mind. A graceful torsion bends the figure in Facing Down Giants, for instance. Like Dibble's other personae, he is cast in a heroic mold, with an exaggeratedly athletic torso. His small head faces skyward and he sits on the ground, as if in a yoga posture, awkwardly graceful and content. Dibble's spiritual beings are part hero, part clown, tumbling in a world that is no more than a back-drop for their antics. They are perhaps like skins of light, shed in the process of personal change.


Posted by Matthew Dibble on 6/5/08 | tags: Art criticism review show

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