THE FIDDLER’S TALE: Recent Works of Love and Loss by Robert Garey

The Florence County Museum Waters Gallery
April 10 through June 16, 2017

The Florence County Museum is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent paintings by Florence artist, Robert Garey. The exhibition, titled The Fiddler’s Tale, will be composed of 23 works which explore the existential nature of the human condition, as expressed in the subject matter of traditional Appalachian folk music.

Garey, who is also a musician, has spent the past five years drawing upon the lyrics of this music to create darkly-toned allegorical imagery, rendered with a high degree of technical familiarity in the medium of oil paint.

Although he began creating and exhibiting art in the 1970s, his instruction in the atelier style of realist painting first came in 1989, as a student at the New York Academy of Figurative Art. The school was a late career project of the Pop Art protege, Andy Warhol, who founded the Academy as a safeguard against the potential loss of such skilled lineage in American art instruction. The result of the school’s immersive and demanding curriculum can be seen in Garey’s masterful details and in the rich surfaces of many of the paintings in the exhibit.

The exhibition opens for public viewing in the Florence County Museum Waters Gallery on Monday, April 10, followed by an opening reception on the evening of Thursday, April 13 from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. All are invited to attend.

The show’s title is taken from one of its larger paintings, which depicts a verse in the popular Appalachian murder ballad, Pretty Polly. Although fans of the genre may recognize familiar scenes from a diversity of other song lyrics, Garey’s images are often connected by the appearance of the “fiddler” character, who narrates their fateful events from a nearby corner of the stage.

Although reminiscent of the Regionalist style of paintings by 20th century American artists like Thomas Hart Benton, Garey confides, “This series of work is really inspired by the narrative paintings of the Renaissance, which depict the great tales from the Bible and Roman myths.”

Florence County Museum Curator, Stephen W. Motte, has this to say about the exhibit, “The artist’s inspiration and his intent are readily apparent in the final product, which is not an easy thing to achieve. The museum is always looking for artists of Garey’s caliber, who can express complex ideas in complex media, and produce bodies of work which are so cohesive and formally well executed, without losing their subtlety.”

Garey’s many other artistic accomplishments include his work for the film industry, Sotheby’s Auction House, public murals, interior trompe l’oeil, and historic preservation.

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