“Bubble Gum on Janson’s History of Art Series” May 3-30 Merkle and Price Galleries
Exhibition by artist Tom Richard Professor of Art at the University of Arkansas at Monticello
Reception Saturday, May 6, 5:30-7pm
“I am delighted to present the first showing of the Bubble Gum on Janson’s History of Art Series in its entirety at SAAC (an installation of over 250 individual pieces). I made the series by painting illusionistic bubble gum over parts of specific images from the torn apart 1966 edition of the pivotal textbook (an act that pays homage to sticking gum under my desk while in grade school). I find the mood created by the dark walls and ethereal lighting accentuates my investigations of infusing the frivolous amongst the sacred.” – Tom Richard
Tom Richard’s two dimensional mixed media studio practices address issues of history, of making history, of reflection, and of present by combining planned acts of painting specific historical references with spontaneous processes that allow the viewer to move, conceptually, from serious to frivolity. His work has been included in over 100 national juried and invitational exhibitions including Heroes at Central Michigan University, After School Special at the University Art Museum in Albany, NY, Metamorphosis at the Regional Art Museum in Fort Smith, AR, and Artfields in Lake City, SC. He has had over 50 solo exhibitions at venues including the Arkansas Arts Center (now the Arkansas Museum of Fine Art), the Historic Arkansas Museum, Baton Rouge Galley and Center for Contemporary Art, and numerous university museums, galleries, and art centers throughout the United States. Tom Richard (MFA’93 University at Albany; BFA’88 LSU) is a Professor of Art at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
Bubble Gum on Janson’s History of Art
For the last two decades, I have been working on different series of mixed media paintings and drawings that contextualize or fuse the serious with the frivolous. The works in each series can be seen as either individual or as related pieces within the context of the entire installation.
In 2021, I began the Bubble Gum on Art Series that depicts illusionistic bubble gum painted over images removed from different art history textbooks. The painted bubble gum masks a prominent part of the composition (which could be the primary focal point, but in some cases, is the secondary or tertiary one) to hint at a transformation – from black & white to color, appropriation to original, high to low, masking to potential, and serious to whimsy.
For the last 9 nine months, I have continued this series with a more specific focus. I have cut up the 1966 edition of the pivotal text, Janson’s History of Art (the edition from the year of my birth). The pieces are arranged as they were in the textbook, grouped by chapter and organized in the order that they were presented. They are matted in a format to mask the text from the page while showing the image in its original page location.
This series focuses on the space between the serious and the absurd. The idea of the frivolous amongst the sacred interests me. In this exhibition, I use this seeming contradiction as it relates to how we teach art history. While many contemporary artists have critiqued the way western art history has been presented in the past, some have taken those thoughts a step further.
I am one such artist.