This show offers a curious twist in that both painters, David Ottinger and Barry Sullivan, started their journey many years ago as fellow students under instruction of Wilbur Neiwald at the Kansas City Art Institute. "The overriding philosophy of that studio was the education of the eye through direct painting from observed visual reality." While there are distinct differences in the work of the two, there is also an underlying commonality which calls to mind the importance education plays in ones work. Add to this, that David has spent his career as an instructor at McKendree University. Some of the guests at the opening where associates from academia. Our system of art education, if not the backbone, is the foundation of artistic creation at the local level.
David's (on the left) work offers a natural approach to realism. Using passages of color, he creates a bold statement while staying true his subject matter. Sometimes working large, the effect is consuming. The subjects include still life. A trombone done in oil and another done in watercolor. The portraits include those of his wife, Mary Beth, and also his son. Painting loved ones has an added dimension of concern. David spoke of a painting of his wife that he was working on earlier in the day. Upon hearing her come home, he felt compelled to quickly wipe away the days work because it fell short.
Barry (right) works primarily on portraits and covers a wide variety of subject matter. Men and women at work capturing a slice of time and of community. Images likely taken from photographs of people at work. Strong and rich, they treat common elements in an artistic manner. He also uses family to model and goes outside the realm of realism to paint poetic narratives. In these, he intentionally leaves the shadow of ambiguity that the viewer may provide their own interpretation.
Common Concerns, curated by Tim Liddy, is showing at RAC from April 4 - May 11th