Weekly Feature

2016-07-20 / Front Page

‘Just paint’: artist showcases work in Artpark exhibit


Photo courtesy of Julian Montague Photo courtesy of Julian Montague After picking random images from a box — from sources such as vintage ads, news photos and the Mexican game La Lotería — Bruce Adams spontaneously creates a painting without trepidation.

He used to do annual painting demonstrations in a 45-minute session in front of students while teaching art at Tonawanda City High School.

“I had a great deal of autonomy and freedom to teach what I felt was important,” he said.

The students would follow the intuitive process, selecting an image or two, and create their own art during the several days that followed his demonstration.

Now retired, Adams taught for 30 years and wanted to lessen his students’ fear of painting. He encouraged them to “dive in and just paint.”

“You don’t start over; there are no mistakes. Each time you correct and paint over something, it adds richness and layers to the work that contribute to its aesthetic quality,” he said of what he aimed to teach his students.

Pictured is an extemporal painting by Bruce Adams. It is titled “Random 38.” According to Adams, it was created from acrylic on paper. Pictured is an extemporal painting by Bruce Adams. It is titled “Random 38.” According to Adams, it was created from acrylic on paper. He added that if an individual can see a mistake in another’s work, they can see mistakes in their own if they step back.

“The expression was more important than accuracy.”

“Extemporal: Works on Paper by Bruce Adams,” is currently on display as part of the Artpark Gallery’s summer exhibition schedule. The exhibition features the type of work that Adams did in the classroom.

After Adams left teaching, the positive reaction to these demonstration paintings by people who saw them led to the series.

“To make an extemporal work, I select one or two images from those I have collected [including from the Mexican game La Lotería] with little conscious thought. I begin painting without a plan,” said Adams in his artist statement.

This extemporal painting by Bruce Adams is titled “Random 26.” This extemporal painting by Bruce Adams is titled “Random 26.” La Lotería is a game, similar to Bingo, that uses images on a deck of cards rather than plain numbers.

“Each of them have a word that goes with them,” Adams said of the images on the cards.

Also, the title for the exhibit comes from the Latin “extemporalis,” meaning on the spur of the moment, or less literally, unrehearsed, according the statement.

“It’s my belief I’m working on some unconscious intuitive level. It’s human nature to find meaning in images that are side by side. Both myself and viewers tend to come up with a meaning to what the work is even though there was nothing consciously intended.”

He treats areas of negative space as an important part of the painting, too, adding that the paintings have expressive brushwork.

“It functions as a whole when it’s done, even though it’s based on images.”

A reception for the exhibit will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, July 21, at Artpark, 450 S. 4th St. in Lewiston, as part of the Artpark After Dark series featuring Amy Greenan next month. Adams will present a short artist talk at the event.

The artist and writer is currently a lecturer at Buffalo State and resides in Buffalo.

Artpark will also offer a “Paint Night” event from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, July 29. At the event, Adams will teach a class similar to the ones that inspired the Extemporal suite, and participants will create a painting using the same techniques and medium as the works featured in the exhibit.

Adams noted that the event isn’t one where a participant will paint with a certain color or is the type where the participant follows what the artist is doing.

“People will select images and paint under guidance,” he said. “It’s more individual and creative. Everybody will have the experience of trying.”

The cost for the event is $35 per person and includes all materials as well as a glass of wine. Additional wine and refreshments will be available for purchase.

For more information about the event, contact Tanis Winslow at 754-9000, ext. 105. To reserve a spot, call the box office at Artpark at 754-9000, ext. 122.

“When I began doing it, I was confident in my painting. Over the years, I grew much more confident through demonstrations. You have to develop this skill, but it almost feels like a superpower,” Adams said.

To view his work, visit www.adams-studio.com.

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