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    Betsy Eby & Bo Bartlett @ David Klein Gallery


    Encaustic painting by Betsy Eby at the David Klein Gallery

    Song of the Indian Guest. Betsy Eby. 2012. Encaustic on canvas on panel; 55” x 80” (Courtesy of the David Klein Gallery)

    Betsy Eby’s exhibition at the David Klein Gallery, Ayers & Fantasies, presents mystical, lyrical, and meditative abstractions that subtly impact the viewer while leaving a lingering impression. Encaustic oil paintings on canvas covered wood panels feature images made from materials beautifully massaged with hand tools and a handheld propane torch. Fluid and illusive shapes, almost always against an off white background, with small amounts of oil paint create a variety of patterns and motifs.

    “My paintings are lyrical abstractions, capturing rhythms and patterns found in the organic world and musical world. The medium is wax and pigment. I paint with knives, some brushes and a blow-torch.” writes Eby in a statement on her website.

    In a prior exhibition Scales and Measures, she titled each work after a classical piece of music. “This is what I paint about – the musical world made tangible.” These visual aquariums of lush imagery conjure up not Rachmaninoff but rather seem more reminiscent of Bach’s Goldberg variations.

    From a statement on her web site, “Painting isn’t about capturing beauty, but it is the ongoing process of finding it. The results are always shifting and the act is never static.” She goes on to describe how perfecting and developing her technique of using purified beeswax and other encaustic materials developed over several years. Eby continues, “I paint with a blowtorch. My painting process is one that explores composition as well as illusory depth.”

    Born in a small Oregon coastal town, Eby studied art at the University of Oregon and plays classical music. Married to the American realist painter, Bo Barlett, she is often the subject of his figurative paintings.

    Oil painting study by Bo Bartlett at the David Klein Gallery

    Study for Light Years. Bo Bartlett. 2011. Oil on canvas; 17” x 17” (Courtesy of the David Klein Gallery)

    Also included in this exhibition of work by Eby is a room of recent paintings by Barlett, Paintings from Wheaton Island, Summer 2011. The David Klein Gallery has represented, Bartlett, educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, since 2003 with paintings from the Heartland series and more recently a solo exhibit in 2009. Bartlett, an American painter from Georgia who renders his work with a kind of romantic realism, reminds us of Thomas Eakins, while distilling his narrative with contemporary themes. Having seen his previous work, the new painting, Study for Light Years, takes a step forward, improving by using a more informal composition. Having the young man look off towards the horizon, while the two female figures dance, takes the viewer in many different directions and leaves us with much to imagine.

    Both shows run through April 14, 2012.

    163 Townsend
    Birmingham, MI 48009
    Hours: Monday – Saturday, 11 – 5:30

    Ron Scott is a pseudonym for a writer based in the Detroit area.  View more articles by Ron Scott.

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