Abstract artist Sammy Peters will give a talk tonight (April 8) at the Windgate Art & Design Gallery of the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, where his exhibition “Sammy Peters: Then & Now” is opening. The talk is at 7 p.m. and open to the public. The show runs through May.
If you’re in Northwest Arkansas, this is a great opportunity to hear Peters talk about his process and inspiration. Here’s an excerpt from a story I wrote about Peters, David Bailin and Warren Criswell that describes Peters’ work:
Peters arrives at his abstract constructions by looking at “minutiae in nature and I find patterns. My ladders and stripes that I make, I’m looking at them right there [pointing at the street outside the window]. … It’s like the way man encroaches on nature I find more beautiful than nature itself. What man has done to nature is infinitely more attractive … it shows the humanity, the way that man looks at something and says I can do something with that.”
Like Bailin, Peters works in layers, his brushstrokes purposely allowing earlier marks to come through. In this way, Peters adds the dimension of time to abstract expressionism: At first Peters was there, then there, and now he’s here. It’s a kind of visual archeology for the viewer to explore. In his work “Beginning: current; integration,” the entry work in “Disparate Acts,” Peters’ fields of scumbled, washed out yellow-greens and manganese blues, painted in encaustic, allows light to penetrate the colors.
Here’s how Bailin looks at his colleagues’ work: “Sammy’s is dessert, Sammy’s is luscious. Warren’s is this upset stomach … It tastes OK going down but it’s going to upset you when it gets there. It’s all about the way his strokes are, that scumbling he puts on there, the individual strokes that he defines his figures with … . It’s like there’s a kind of fingernail on the chalkboard. You cannot … it forces you to look at it, at its kind of brutality. … ” (At this point in Bailin’s speech, Peters and Criswell are hooting.) When it comes to this threesome, there’s no verbal scumbling, no overlay of words to soften their real thoughts.