Oct. 22, 2012. Carlton Gallery’s ongoing 30th Anniversary Autumn Group Exhibition features selected paintings from the 2012 solo artist exhibitions by Michael Grady, Toni Carlton, Egi Antonaccio, Andrew Braitman and Debbie Arnold. Paintings in colors to reflect those found in the High Country’s landscape fill the gallery along with new contemporary works by Vae Hamilton, Mike Ham, Gina Strumpf and Kate Worm whose subject matter ranges from horses, city street scenes to abstracted landscapes.
One of the final solo exhibitions this year celebrating the 30th Anniversary is by local artist, Warren Dennis. His art is admired and highly collected. Dennis was one of the first to exhibit with Carlton Gallery in its 30 years, and he taught drawing and art appreciation to gallery owner, Toni Carlton, when she attended Appalachian State University.
Dennis’ “2012 Figurative Abstractions” exhibit which begins on October 27 with an Artist Reception from 2-5 p.m. continues through November 18. This exhibit by Warren Dennis is a feature for the Avery Tour de Art, a coalition of art galleries and artists’ studios showcasing fine art in many mediums which is October 27, 10 to 5 p.m.
The oil on canvas paintings in “2012 Figurative Abstractions” are cubist based while his paintings for many years were naturalistic based with a little eccentricity thrown in. After sixty years painting in one style, Dennis said he had extinguished his subject matter. In order to keep painting, he developed a new style. It was with some apprehension at first, but then a flood of ideas came forth and the results are very engaging, enjoyable and entertaining for the viewer. Dennis says, “I think they are colorful and energetic and although they don’t follow current trends, I don’t care. I know they are good.”
Current work by Warren Dennis represents yet another artistic dimension with the shapes and lines shifting from organic, soft and flowing curves to angular, more geometric forms allowing a 3 dimensional view. Sharper lines with stronger contrast outlining the geometric shapes are evident to those who know Dennis’ earlier work. In his painting, “Artist and Model, 42”x50”, Dennis repeats a favorite theme of an artist painting a nude model. Coming full circle back to his early days of teaching figurative drawing with live models, Dennis continues to experiment in eccentric perspectives.
At this stage of his life, Warren Dennis finds so much enjoyment in creating more vibrant and cheerful art with his new cubist style that frees him from the specifics of the images used in his earlier work. Dennis’ inspiration for his cubist style came from Picasso, who over 100 years ago created the technique, but unlike Picasso the paintings of Dennis are more personable and identifiable. About his new work he says, “These came to me in a dream and developed rapidly into drawing studies that evolved into my new paintings”.
Dennis has spent a lifetime painting with the human image being the central theme. The figures and faces come from his imagination and are the result of years of effort – a colorful honing by trial and error to get a specific effect. His paintings show simple, earthbound people pursuing everyday activities portrayed in the liveliest way possible. His sense of life and vitality is an important quality which he transposes vividly to canvas. Dennis says, “My entire body of work is a meditation on the American spirit which I have seen in its humor, complexity, struggles and above all, in its unquenchable determination to triumph over adversity. All of my work is personal and it all has personality – That’s what I try to get across”.
Born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Dennis earned a bachelor of art from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master of fine arts from the University of Mississippi. He began his art teaching career in 1955 at Judson College in Marion, Alabama. He served as art professor at Appalachian State University from 1965-1993 and was Chair of the Art Department from 1980-1984. Now retired, Dennis devotes full time to painting in his studio.
An artist of long standing, Warren Dennis has had many exhibitions, solo and group shows, prizes and awards that make a listing of many pages. His work is part of the permanent collection of the Greenville Center for N.C. Arts in Greensboro, the Plemmons Collection of Contemporary Art at Appalachian State University, the Hickory Museum, as well as in galleries, corporate and private collections throughout the U.S. and Canada.
All are invited to continue the celebration of Carlton Gallery’s 30th Anniversary and to view the” 2012 Figurative Abstractions” exhibit by Warren Dennis which runs through November 18 with a reception on Saturday, October 27 from 2-5. The Gallery’s Autumn Group Exhibition continues through November 15. The gallery is located 10 miles south of Boone, NC and 7 miles north of Linville, NC on Hwy 105 in the Grandfather Mountain community. For information on artists, exhibitions or workshops, call (828) 963-4288 or visit www.carltonartgallery.com.