Seascapes: Paintings and Watercolors by Jim McVicker and Steve Porter
Humboldt State University First Street Gallery is pleased to present Seascapes: Paintings and Watercolors by Jim McVicker and Steve Porter. Produced and curated by the students in the Museum and Gallery Practices Program at Humboldt State University, the exhibition will run from March 31st through May 15th.
McVicker and Porter are longtime friends, brought together by a passion for nature and landscape painting. This exhibition of new paintings seeks to illuminate the many aspects of the seascape surrounding the environs of Trinidad, California, from calm and meditative to the passionate intensity of the crashing waves. These paintings contain a certain quality that reminds the viewer of deeper truths held in the rocks and in the water’s reflections. Beauty, true and simple as the sea, is the objective of these two artists who have spent years observing Nature’s subtleties.
In the 1970’s both McVicker and Porter separately moved from the over-crowded and overbuilt cityscapes of Southern California to Humboldt County, California, where they first met each other in the lush and resplendent haven of California’s North Coast. Both artists were seeking a more introspective and meaningful existence by living closer to the natural world. It was on California’s North Coast that McVicker and Porter found a wealth of inspiration in the diversity and beauty, which became the subject of many of their paintings.
The exhibition features paintings and watercolors, which often incorporate unconventional methods. Porter and McVicker both paint with watercolors vertically, on an easel, unlike the more traditional method of painting flat. Such an approach creates a dynamic feel to the paintings, since Porter and McVicker must work quickly and thickly to reduce dripping lines and to capture the ever-changing light.
McVicker’s style has been described as invigorating and effortless. Through painting he pursues the exposition of atmosphere, form, light, and solid drawing. In his work, McVicker seeks to express the “elusive spiritual energy, the mystery of nature and life, [and] the unknown.” He believes without this sensitivity to the land, his work would “merely be marks on a surface.” When McVicker settles on a location, he may work on five or six canvases at once, keeping a careful eye on the sun’s position. Describing his process in a recent interview, McVicker states that, “Years ago, I would work three and four hours on a landscape, but I’ve become so sensitive to the changing light that an hour and half is my limit now. This may mean working on a painting for as many as twenty-five sessions, returning to the same site, but the end result is worth the effort and patience. When the painting conveys the emotion and essence of that first-hand experience, then it is complete."
Over the past three decades Porter has developed a unique approach to the landscape in both oil and watercolor, which has allowed him to achieve a balance of feeling and realism. Porter emphasizes the importance of reflecting on a particular site from which he draws his inspiration, “They are moments in time [that] will never happen again”. His interpretation of a landscape site lends itself greatly to an approach that seeks to unify his realist observations of the landscape with a strong foundation of design. His approach allows his intuitive response to be seen in the design and depiction of what is essentially a transient and impermanent scene. Porter’s landscapes incorporate a balance of reality, experience and feeling to render a fleeting scene into a poetic object. “Watercolors are a favorite medium for me. It’s a wild ride. You never know where it will take you.” In his continuous development as an artist, he has learned that something beautiful often blossoms out of a struggle.
Jim McVicker’s and Steve Porter’s longtime friendship has led to this strong collaborative exhibition of landscape painting in Trinidad, California. In a sense, this exhibition is as much a portrait of a friendship as it is a depiction of landscape in which these two men dwell.
First Street Gallery is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. It is located at 422 First Street, Eureka, California. Admission is always free. School groups are encouraged to call ahead for tours. For more information, please call 707-443-6363.
Click on images to enlarge