Alchemy and Image opens at Rockford Art Museum May 7

From press release

Rockford Art Museum (RAM) presents Alchemy and Image May 7-Aug. 29, featuring the work of three key figures in Midwest art: T.L. Solien, Fred Stonehouse and John Wilde (“Will-DEE”).

Natural storytellers, these artists present a peculiar world where oddness and absurdity are commonplace. Influences as varied as folk art, surrealism and the Renaissance are evident in these psychologically-charged narratives.

Always the consummate craftsmen, Solien, Stonehouse and Wilde are as diverse in style as they are unconventional in subject matter.

T.L. Solien (American, b. 1949)

Solien’s paintings are introspective, satirical and playfully mysterious. His deconstructed works are linear in nature, their storyline influenced by popular culture and the classic novel Moby-Dick. Departing from Melville’s storyline, Solien imagines Ahab’s widow and her countless adventures in the vast American frontier. A distinct palette of colors and recurring iconography are signature compositional tools that complete the drama.

Fred Stonehouse (American, b. 1960)

Stonehouse’s paintings are marked by a provocative edginess. Rendered in haunting clarity, the bizarre rules in his quirky world. Atmospheric effects, real and imagined, are captured with exquisite detail. The strange and fantastic creatures of Stonehouse’s kingdom are not only at home in nature—they are celebrated! This is a world of extremes. Good and evil, heaven and hell, animal and human forms come together to challenge and amuse.

John Wilde (American, 1919-2006)

Wilde’s work celebrates the grandeur and transience of nature. A key figure in Magic Realism, an American Surrealist movement, his oeuvre is a blend of Renaissance perfectionism and Midwestern eccentricity. Still-lifes, allegorical stories, and portraits are set in the rural Wisconsin landscape. The world of dreams is the artist’s muse. The viewer is seduced by the jewel-like quality of Wilde’s paintings, immaculately composed of thin layers of glaze.

Members’ Preview May 7

A RAM Members’ Preview of Alchemy and Image will begin at 5 p.m., Friday, May 7, with a Gallery Walk led by Michael Jay McClure, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin—Madison. The Gallery Walk will be followed by a Members’ Reception from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Public Opening May 8

A free Public Opening for Alchemy and Image will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 8. A free Gallery Walk, led by Carrie Breitbach, RAM education director, will be at 11 a.m. A free Children’s Art Activity will also be held at 11 a.m. Registration is required for the Children’s Art Activity by calling (815) 972-2874.

Curated by Patty Rhea, Alchemy and Image is sponsored by Art in the Garden and remains on display at RAM through Sunday, Aug. 29. For more information about this exhibition and its education programs, log on to

From the May 5-11, 2010 issue

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