Quietude: Drawing Stillness
Jenkins Johnson Gallery, New York is proud to present Quietude: Drawing Stillness, a solo exhibition in the Project Room of recent drawings by Skip Steinworth. This will be his first solo show with Jenkins Johnson Gallery in New York. There will be an opening reception with the artist on Thursday, November 1 from 6 to 8 pm.
Skip Steinworth has been a dedicated draughtsman of still lifes done in graphite for over 25 years. His commitment to the medium stems from his appreciation of its direct nature as the lack of color focuses on the strict graphic nature of the subject, featuring texture, form, tone, and composition. Steinworth deliberately selects images that are commonplace, almost generic, giving the images a timeless, enduring nature. His dedication to straightforward still lifes that are misleadingly simple emphasizes his claim that he’s not “copying what [he] sees”, but that he’s “drawing a mood.” The images radiate a sense of stillness and thoughtful peace; they are, as Steinworth describes, “suggestive of the quietude and contemplative environment in which they were created.”
While his drawings may seem like ordinary, everyday scenes, they are not coincidental. Steinworth intricately plans out the still lifes, spending hours arranging the tableaux, using hot glue and wires to manipulate flowers and objects to his liking, and taking copious notes and 35 mm slides to reference during the drawing process.
Each drawing takes over six weeks, and is worked on one at a time, often into the late hours of the night. He begins each new piece by drawing a large sketch with dry erase markers, then progressing to a large scale line drawing. For the final drawing, he begins with the background, later working in the subject section by section, not in overall layers as other graphite artists work. Further differentiating himself from other draughtspeople, Steinworth draws exclusively on 4-ply mat board rather than traditional paper; this unconventional material ages better but also gives the pieces a more dynamic texture, which can often be seen in the backgrounds of the drawings. Steinworth continually selects subjects that both aesthetically appeal to him and are technically demanding.
Arrangement #40, Peonies and Glassware features Steinworth’s favorite flowers, peonies. He grows and harvests them at his Minnesota home, photographing large groups of them when they bloom in the spring. He considers the combination of the peonies and the glass jars in this piece to be ideal subjects; he explains, “Capturing their complex forms, intricate detail, and delicate tonalities presents the kind of challenges I like to set for myself; the transparent, reflective surfaces of the glass containers offer contrast to those natural forms as well as an entirely different kind of technical challenge.” Likewise, Glass presents the task of multiple reflective and transparent objects, but against a light-colored background, keeping the entire drawing within a specific, similar tonal range. As critic Bill Lasarow wrote, Steinworth has “tour de force control of tonalities”, and this work displays his mastery of his medium. Both of these pieces, as well as the other works in Quietude: Drawing Stillness, are typical of Steinworth’s body of work; aesthetically pleasing, technically refined, timeless, vaguely familiar and reminiscent, and elegant.
Skip Steinworth has shown widely throughout the United States, including inclusion in 2007’s illustrious The Object Project, which traveled to the Evansville Museum, IN and the Philbrook Museum of Art, OK. His works are in the collections of: the Minneapolis Art Institute, MN; The Howard Tullman Collection, Chicago, IL; and the Plains Museum, Moorhead, MN, among others. His work has been featured in American Art Collector and American Artist. He lives and works in Stillwater, Minnesota.