Charney began working on location in April to complete 15-20 canvases to include in the show. The oil paintings feature scenes that capture the regional character of South-Central Ohio. Most of the locations were near Yellow Springs, Ohio – several were painted from the same spot under variable weather conditions. The paintings are landscapes that capture fields and roads, clouds and sky, done with the regional character of Grant Wood and a transcendental devotion to nature of George Inness.
Charney said that in addition to depicting natural subjects in a rational, unidealized manner, he was also exploring the problems of visual accuracy, memory vs. invention, and style vs. expression. The issues are more evident/relevant in the series of paintings that share a similar vantage point – several canvases feature the same view of hills and fields near his home.
"It was artistically challenging to keep one painting from influencing the next, which blurred the lines of visual fidelity and accuracy," Charney said. "It was also hard to keep up with the changing crops, colors and atmosphere as the months of the growing season passed by.
"I had several paintings going at once, and near the end the details that corresponded to one set of circumstances merged with others. In the end, I think that I was able to hang onto the nuances that separate one scene from another, but the experience taught me that working on a small scale is important when the subject matter contains so much variety. Larger paintings can cause the production to merge with others, which can intensity the process."
Before he was able to devote himself to the project and his paintings for the exhibit, Charney traveled with 11 students and Assistant Professor of Art Alejandra Gimenez-Berger to teach Wittenberg's "Watercolor and Art History Summer Study in Rome," a study-abroad experience that offered two distinct courses in one. It was the third international course Charney has taught since arriving at Wittenberg in 2000. In 2005, he traveled to Ireland with 13 students studying oil painting, and in 2007 he took a group of students studying watercolor painting to Rome.
During his nine years at Wittenberg, Charney has had his work exhibited in numerous galleries, including the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, Waterloo Art Museum in Waterloo, Iowa, Gallery 100 in Cape Girardeau, Mo., Union Street Gallery in Chicago Heights, Ill., Gallery Alexy in Philadelphia, Pa., and Chatahoochee Valley Art Museum in LaGrange, Ga.
Charney earned his bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1979 as a metallry major with art history and painting minors. He received his master's degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 1982, where he was a painting major with a sculpture minor. He also received a bachelor's in education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
Written by: Phyllis Eberts
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