The Shirley-Jones Gallery will present a selection of drawings and prints by two former art professors and one of their students. The three, Charles Pollock, Murray Jones and Will Petersen met at Michigan State University in the early 1950s at a time when New York was emerging as the world's art center, and new modes of abstraction, notably abstract expressionism were developing with a national and international impact. Though living in central Michigan, all three were engaged with the unfolding ideas of the art world of their day.
Charles Pollock (1902-88), the older brother of Jackson Pollock, trained under Thomas Hart Benton. During the WPA, Charles Pollock was commissioned to paint a mural on the campus of Michigan State University. In order to complete this work, he stayed on as a member of the faculty of the Art Department where he taught until his retirement in 1967. Pollock's early work was grounded in the premise of Social Realism that painting could tell a story which in turn could help to improve the world. By the end of the 1940s, though, he doubted that this promise could be fulfilled, and subsequently pursued non-representation and abstraction (a pursuit of beauty for its own sake) first in the form of gestural abstraction and later, color field painting. The gallery will present works springing from this last segment of Pollock's oeuvre.
At Michigan State, Pollock was joined in 1946 by Murray Jones (1915-64). Schooled at the Art Institute of Chicago and freshly discharged from the US Army, Jones's work was immersed in the exploration of myth and surrealism. By the early 1950s his work, like that of Pollock, moved to a firm exploration of abstraction. Influenced by the advent of Abstract Expressionism, Jones's work used the natural and industrial landscapes as initial stimulus to produce works with an emphasis on calligraphic line and highly nuanced form. This exhibition will show a number of works from the mid- to late-1950s which mark Jones's increasing commitment to non-representation.
A student of both Pollock and Jones, in the early 1950s, Will Petersen
(1928-94) began his career with an involvement in abstraction. After graduation, he moved to San Francisco, became part of the Bay Area Beat Generation and a close friend of the poet Gary Snyder. He spent the decade of the mid-50s to 1967 living in Kyoto, Japan where he studied Noh drama, translated a number of Noh plays, and, with the poet Frank Samperi, published the first issues of the small magazine Origin
. During this period, Petersen produced a body of abstract color lithographs which were informed by Japanese calligraphy and Zen philosophy. Upon returning to the U.S. in 1967, Petersen's engagement with pure abstraction softened over time to incorporate passages of text and illustrative depiction. These works were a fusion of his work as a poet, scholar and image maker. The gallery will present works from the range of Petersen's career.
The exhibition runs from March 10 through April 15, 2006. The gallery is open Wednesday-Saturday 2-6pm and by appointment. For further information call (937) 767-1711.