2015 Feb 5, 3:05pm
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Winter Art Festival Competition at Gallery Uptown in Grand Haven, Michigan

Opening Friday, February 6, 2015, the Winter Art Festival competition at Gallery Uptown in Grand Haven, Michigan includes sixty works by regional artists. I will be displaying The Last Days of Autumn, and The Last Days of Summer in the show, and hope to see you at the reception.

"The Last Days of Autumn", 2014, Acrylic on Hardboard, 27.75 x 46.25 inches, by David Jay Spyker

The Last Days of Autumn, 2014, Acrylic on Hardboard, 27.75 x 46.25 inches, by David Jay Spyker

The Last Days of Summer, 2014, Acrylic on Hardboard, 9 x 12 in., by David Jay Spyker

The Last Days of Summer, 2014, Acrylic on Hardboard, 9 x 12 in., by David Jay Spyker

The reception is on the 6th from 5:30 to 8:00 pm, with awards and comments by the juror presented at 7:00. The exhibition runs through February 28, 2015.
Gallery Uptown, 201 Washington Ave., Grand Haven, MI 49417
(616) 846-5460


2015 Jan 22, 7:23pm
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2015 Regional Competition at the Carnegie

My painting The Day Before November will be included in the 2015 Regional Juried Arts Competition at the Carnegie Center for the Arts in Three Rivers, Michigan. The opening reception will take place on January 25, 2015, from 2-4pm.

"The Day Before November", 2014, Acrylic on Hardboard, 8 x 10 inches, by David Jay Spyker

“The Day Before November”, 2014, Acrylic on Hardboard, 8 x 10 inches, by David Jay Spyker

Carnegie Center for the Arts, 107 North Main Street, Three Rivers, MI 49093
(269) 273-8882


“Double Take: Artists Respond to the Collection” at the KIA

When asked if I’d like to be part of Double Take at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, I was more than happy to participate. A show in which I get to pick a piece from the collection and create my own work in response, and then the two would hang side-by-side? Of course I wanted to do it!

Subsequently browsing the collection on the Institute’s website, then visiting the vault to see my possible selections in person was a treat. There is some really great art in the KIA’s collection. In the end, I chose a watercolor by Philip Jamison titled “Milkweed” as my companion piece.

Philip Jamison, American, b. 1925 Milkweed, ca. 1950-1960  Watercolor on Paper  Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald S. Gilmore  Copyright Philip Jamison, image used by permission of the artist

Philip Jamison, American, b. 1925
Milkweed, ca. 1950-1960
Watercolor on Paper
Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald S. Gilmore
Copyright Philip Jamison, image used by permission of the artist

The quiet atmosphere and solitude in Milkweed immediately made me think of a special place just a few miles from home, though I planned to paint my scene in a different season that was more personal to me.

As part of the exhibition, we were asked to write a short text speaking to the relationship of our work to our chosen piece, which would display with the paired art.

To me, Milkweed has a certain sense of quiet isolation, a solitude, which I am often looking for in my own work. When I manage to catch that mood in a scene, I feel like I’ve done something special with the painting. I can only imagine Philip Jamison must have the same sense of satisfaction when he captures a deep feeling in one of his own works.

There is a prairie tallgrass field north of Kalamazoo, and in early Spring, gentle breezes tickle last year’s dead stalks to create a quiet, pervasive whisper. If you stand for a while – with nothing but that dry rustling and the occasional bird song all around – and feel the changing vernal light and the zephyrs on your skin, you begin to get a sense of magic; it’s as if the whole world is whispering something unknown, yet deeply important.

"Whisper", 2014, Acrylic on Alupanel, 18 x 30 in.

“Whisper”, 2014, Acrylic on Alupanel, 18 x 30 in., by David Jay Spyker

I wrote to Mr. Jamison to tell him about the exhibition, and to ask if it would be alright to use the image of his painting for this article. What a thrill it was to read Philip’s letter in response! At 89 years of age he writes that he has been “unusually busy” lately. I hope to one day reach that age and still be busy making art.

"Whisper", 2014, Acrylic on Alupanel, Detail

“Whisper”, 2014, Acrylic on Alupanel, Detail, by David Jay Spyker

He also writes “I have used milkweeds in many of my paintings simply because they are so prevalent in my part of Chester County…. I have vases of them in my studio…. and they have been there for over forty years”. That got me thinking of when I was a kid wandering the woods and empty fields near my house in Rochester, New York, and how each year the milkweed pods were such a source of fascination.

It was irresistible to pluck them and pry them open; I’d get the sticky milk all over my fingers, and explore how the seeds were packed inside with their silky threaded parachutes. Later in the year, when the pods would eventually split open on their own, I just had to blow handfuls of those seeds into the air.

Even today, on walks through fields, it makes me happy to see milkweed plants, and sometimes I still stop to play with the pods.

Study for Whisper, 2014, Acrylic on Gessoed Paper, 12 x 17 7/8 in., by David Jay Spyker

Study for Whisper, 2014, Acrylic on Gessoed Paper, 12 x 17 7/8 in., by David Jay Spyker

“Double Take: Artists Respond to the Collection at the KIA” is at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts from 8/16/2014 – 1/18/2015. The show features the works of thirty area artists displayed with their corresponding selections from the KIA’s permanent collection.

Jamison's Milkweed and Spyker's Whisper_KIA-1000px

Philip Jamison’s “Milkweed” with David Jay Spyker’s “Whisper”
hanging at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
Photo courtesy of the KIA

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, 314 S. Park St., Kalamazoo, MI 49007
www.kiarts.org


2014 Sep 10, 3:25pm
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Great Lakes Juried Show – 5th Annual – 2014

See the painting “Sudden Flight” at the South Haven Center for the Arts from September 12 – October 26, 2014. The annual, five-state art competition takes place in South Haven, Michigan with an opening reception on Friday, September 12, 2014 from 5:00-7:00pm. Awards will be presented at 6pm with the judge’s remarks.

LIVE music. Cash Bar. Awesome Art, FREE – All Welcome!

South Haven Center for the Arts
600 Phoenix St.
South Haven, MI 49090
269-637-1041

 


2014 Aug 13, 3:54am
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Gulls

Much like I’ve used boats and houses as metaphor for humanity, I’ve come to include seagulls as well. If you watch a large flock, you start to see how their society is arranged with its own hierarchies. You’ll notice the greedy squabbles, the games they play on a breezy summer day, and the clear – sometimes vicious – pecking order there is within the flock.

"Amputee", 2011, Acrylics on Canvas, 18 x 24 in., by David Jay Spyker

Amputee is a portrait of one particular gull I saw regularly at the north beach in South Haven. It had lost a foot to fishing line but in spite of the difficulty of landings and take-offs, it kept on going.

When I’d feed the flock there, this one was always at the front, and the others would give it a wide berth. It had a bit of a cantankerous spirit. People don’t always notice the missing foot right away, but when they read the title it clicks. There is a real expression of the tenacity of life here, and I’ve tried to capture that in the way the gull stares back with directness and defiance.

"Self-Portrait in the Morning as a Gull", 2012, Acrylic on Hardboard, 5 x 7 in., by David Jay Spyker

“Self-Portrait in the Morning as a Gull”

I’m a night owl, and to me the gull in this small piece (only 5 x 7 inches) looks like how I feel if I get up early in the morning, so I titled it “Self-Portrait in the Morning as a Gull”.

It’s amazing how quickly a hundred or more gulls will show up if you start tossing out bread or french fries. In “Compass” I wanted to record that experience. When you feed them, you’ll end up with two groups: one with the more timid gulls on the ground, the shyest standing farther away, and the second group flying in to catch thrown food mid-air.

"Compass", 2012, Acrylic on Canvas, 24 x 36 in., by David Jay Spyker

“Compass”

The fliers have this regular routine where they form a sort of queue and work their way to within about a foot, then they hover there as long as possible. Occasionally the second gull in line will give the first an impatient peck in the back. They’ll look you right in the eye; it’s an intense, piercing sort of stare.

You can toss them food and the lead gull will catch it. If you hold up a fry, one will snatch it right from your fingers – their instinct to keep a safe distance gets put aside for their greed for food. Then it will veer off to eat mid-air while it circles around to the back of the line. They’ll just keep this up, cycling around and around, until you run out of food.

The title refers to the regular circling pattern, as well as the keen sense of direction that birds possess. I suppose it also speaks to the circular patterns of life.

"Baroque Self-Portrait as a Seagull", 2013, Acrylic on Hardboard, 6 x 8 in., by David Jay Spyker

“Baroque Self-Portrait as a Seagull”

To the right is another small one – 8 x 6 inches. I wanted to capture a particular quiet stare, and when it was finished I felt an odd personal connection, so it ended up getting the title “Baroque Self-Portrait as a Seagull”. The dark background and the lighting help reinforce the sense of a traditional baroque portrait.

"Startled Gull", 2011, Graphite on Paper, 23 x 29 in., by David Jay Spyker

“Startled Gull” (Study for “Sudden Flight”)

In “Startled Gull”, I wanted to capture a sense of movement along the wings while retaining a stillness around the head and body, so I used quick finger smudges along the back edge of the lower wing.

“Sudden Flight” depicts the same seagull startled by waves of water jetting up along a soaked pier in South Haven, Michigan. There is something fleeting and fragile about life with the chaotic frenzy of the water crashing up behind the gull. It seemed so small and at the mercy of the greater power of nature – so transitory.

"Sudden Flight", 2013, Acrylics on Canvas, 36 x 60 in., by David Jay Spyker

“Sudden Flight”, 2013, Acrylics on Canvas, 36 x 60 in., by David Jay Spyker

Click here to read a previous article about “Sudden Flight”.


At the Water’s Edge

You are invited to the opening of “At the Water’s Edge” this Friday, August 15, 2014 (5:30- 7:30 pm) at the Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph, Michigan. This solo exhibition features 25 recent works, and runs 8/15 – 9/27.

"The Last Days of Autumn", 2014, Acrylic on Hardboard, 27.75 x 46.25 inches, by David Jay Spyker

“The Last Days of Autumn”, 2014, Acrylic on Hardboard, 27.75 x 46.25 inches, by David Jay Spyker

The mood of a painting has always been very important to me. I
know I’m on the right track with a painting when I can start to feel
the subject – smell the water, taste the air, feel the temperature, hear
the wind or the waves.

I have an obsession with the changing seasons and the passage of
time. The way the light changes over the year is endlessly
fascinating. Weather is the same – it’s so amazing, something full of
wonder.

The season should be something you just instinctively know when
you look at the painting. If you can feel it too, then I’m on the right
track; if you’re also hearing the water or smelling the air, then I’m
really on the right track.

If I’m to have an interest in it, I need to really feel my subject, and if
I don’t have an interest in it, I won’t be able to find its essence and
bring it out in the end. It’s a sort of creative circle that needs to be
complete. Ultimately, I’m after the emotional character of the
subject.

“At the Water’s Edge”, Solo Show, Box Factory for the Arts, 1101 Broad Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085


2014 Aug 7, 4:29pm
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Upcoming Group Exhibition at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Today I delivered this painting to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts for installation in the upcoming exhibit, “Double Take: Artists Respond to the Collection”. The show runs August 23, 2014 – January 4, 2015 (reception is Sept. 5th).

 

In the studio: "Whisper", 2014, Acrylic on Alupanel, 18 x 30 inches, by David Jay Spyker

In the studio: “Whisper”, 2014, Acrylic on Alupanel, 18 x 30 inches, by David Jay Spyker

It should be an interesting exhibition featuring the works of regional artists hung next to pieces from the permanent collection, which have inspired them in some way.

In the studio: the painting "Whisper" in progress.

In the studio: the painting “Whisper” in progress.


2014 May 7, 10:12pm
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Solo Show Opening at the Art Center of Battle Creek, 2014

Just a few photos for you from the May 4 opening of “Eighteen Years” at the Art Center of Battle Creek. The turnout was very good – I met some very nice folks – and the show looks great. Linda, the Center’s director, did a great job hanging it. The exhibit will be up through May 24, 2014.

The show features fine examples of my work spread over the last eighteen years.

Art Center of Battle Creek
265 East Emmet St.Battle Creek, MI 49017


“Eighteen Years” at the Art Center of Battle Creek

Thirty works of art spanning the years 1996 through 2014 make up “Eighteen Years”, a solo exhibition by David Jay Spyker at the Art Center of Battle Creek. You are invited to join the artist Sunday, May 4, 1-4 pm for the opening reception.

The Last Days of Summer, 2014, Acrylic on Hardboard, 9 x 12 in., by David Jay Spyker

The Last Days of Summer, 2014, Acrylic on Hardboard, 9 x 12 in., by David Jay Spyker

About the exhibition, the artist writes:

I think most artists are telling an autobiographical story on some level, and I would say that this exhibition, especially, does just that. By bringing together selections of my work from 1996 to 2014, and hanging them side-by-side, I hope to give a sense of where I’ve been, and where I’m going.

My art has always been rather personal, beginning with the expression of my own thoughts and ideas about the world; always toying with my own obsessions over mortality, the passage of time, and the changing seasons; then coming to include biographical moments in time.

Early influences included, among so many periods and movements, surrealism and early American landscape painting. Over the years, the surrealist influence has grown more distant, though I think it can still be felt as a quiet undercurrent in the mood of my work.

The mood of a painting has always been very important to me. I know I’m on the right track with a painting when I can start to feel the subject – smell the water, taste the air, feel the temperature, hear the wind or the waves. Going deeper than that, I’m after the emotional character of the subject.

I need to really feel my subject if I’m to have an interest in it, and if I don’t have an interest in it, I won’t be able to find its essence and bring it out in paint. It’s a sort of creative circle that needs to be complete.

If you can walk away having felt something too, then I’ll consider it a success.

– David Jay Spyker

The show runs May 4-24 at the Art Center of Battle Creek, 265 E. Emmett Street, Battle Creek, Michigan 49017.


2014 Mar 11, 6:33pm
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Joining Robert Kidd Gallery

I dropped off four paintings at Robert Kidd Gallery in Birmingham, MI yesterday for a group show. “Deep Thaw” runs 3/22/2014 through 4/26/2014. If you live near Detroit, stop in and have a look.

Robert Kidd Gallery was founded in 1976, and is one of the premier galleries in Detroit. With a wide array of abstract and realist paintings, sculpture, and drawings, the gallery represents one of the finest collections of available artwork in the Midwest. While exhibiting the work of many notable emerging contemporary artists, the gallery roster is further distinguished by an array of 20th Century masters including Milton Avery, Harry Bertoia, John Chamberlain, Sam Gilliam, Larry Rivers and Helen Frankenthaler.

"Sudden Flight" at Robert Kidd Gallery

“Sudden Flight” at Robert Kidd Gallery

"Regatta" at Robert Kidd Gallery

“Regatta” at Robert Kidd Gallery

Please contact the gallery with inquiries:
Robert Kidd Gallery
107 Townsend St.
Birmingham, MI 48009
(248) 642-3909


 
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