Art NotesArts & Culture

David Ligare’s California Classicism, Frank Anderson’s Southern Printmaking and More

David Ligare: Nowadays, virtually anything can be evaluated or appreciated as art if presented as such, creating an endless, albeit shallow, stream of new works to rapidly consume and quickly forget. David Ligare, however, is radical in his rejection of the contemporary art world, opting to counter-balance the predictability of fleeting trends with a return to intense mastery. 

A self-proclaimed classicist, Ligare’s work ranges in content from sublime landscapes to delicately balanced still lifes to architectural and figurative paintings heavily influenced by antiquity and idealism. His paintings often transcend time and place by presenting narratives that, while rooted in ancient history, have contemporary applications. On view through Sunday, May 8, the retrospective exhibition “David Ligare: California Classicist” features nearly 80 paintings representing the artist’s unique attempt at time traveling.

Motivated by the writings of John Steinbeck and Robinson Jeffers, Ligare moved to Monterey County, CA in his early 20s and found a home in Big Sur where he could be immersed within the misty landscape of seaside cliffs he had read about. Four decades later, the artist returned to the sun-soaked coastline as a major source of inspiration, finding that while many art trends had come and gone, Big Sur had remained virtually unchanged. This timelessness has been of great interest to the artist, and while many of his paintings are specific to a present time and place in California, they remain remarkably universal. 

Breathtakingly illuminated by the sun and nearly photographic in precision, his subjects are peculiarly surreal through their homage to history. Very early in his career, Ligare sought to understand the underlying principles of Greco-Roman culture—admiring its intense curiosity and thirst for knowledge—and found that many fundamental concepts have resurfaced in various forms over the centuries. In his search for the source of Western art, he has created narrative paintings that return to origins through an abstraction of history. Figures from classic mythology may appear in modern-day settings, beautifully balancing the past and present. 

Ligare will visit the museum to discuss his body of work and exhibition on Thursday, Apr. 28 at 5:30 p.m. During an additional Gallery Talk held the following afternoon at 2 p.m., the artist will describe the influence poet Robinson Jeffers has had on his paintings. Part of the The Big Read supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, this lecture is one of many events spotlighting Jeffers, who also lived much of his life in the Big Sur area and is considered an early pioneer of the environmental movement. On Saturday, Apr. 30 from 10 a.m.–12 p.m., the museum will offer Family Day: Poetry and Art, further exploring the connection between Jeffers’ poetry and Ligare’s artwork. On Thursday, May 5 from 5:30–8:30 p.m., the museum will host a wine tasting night inspired by Ligare’s exhibition. 

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“Church Supper” by Frank Hartley Anderson

Frank Hartley Anderson: The only major graphic arts society to exist in the Southeast during its time, the Southern Printmakers Society enabled etchers, lithographers and wood engravers from across the country to share resources and contribute to touring exhibitions in a region with few venues for viewing art. Founded in 1935 by Frank Anderson and his wife, Martha Fort, the society circulated dozens of shows and published fine editions of selected works for catalog sale over the course of a full decade.

Anderson’s daughter, Martha Fort Prince, placed more than 70 of the society’s prints on long-term loan at the Georgia Museum of Art in 1994, making the gift official in 2008. On view through Sunday, June 19, the exhibition “Frank Hartley Anderson: Forging the Southern Printmakers Society” showcases an impressive variety of styles, subjects and techniques in print media. 

Organized by guest curator and scholar on Southern prints Lynn Barstis Williams Katz, the exhibition is thoughtfully arranged, with many works complementing their neighbors. Some images are grouped together by subject—four portraits stare across the gallery at four wintery rural scenes—while others are intuitively paired based on their compatible compositions.

John Alexander Brandon’s lithograph “Out of the Rocks” depicts a sturdy albeit bare-limbed tree doing its best to survive in a terrain with little water or soil. To the left, Warren Mack’s “Indian Summer” and “Willows on the Water” touch on another challenge: human intervention’s influence on nature through agricultural control and aesthetic interest. 

The vaulted ceilings and arched windows within Leon Pescheret’s etching “Great Tapestry Hall, Hampton Court Palace” are beautifully echoed by the sharp horizon of snow-capped mountain peaks in Frances Gearhart’s colored woodcut “Austerity.” Though wildly different environments—one indoors and manmade, the other expansive and untouched—both settings are presumably quiet and revered.


DJs Lunar Landers and Jack Jigglez will provide music for Museum Mix

Carl Werner Holt’s “Skipper’s Address” is an unusual nautical scene, a complex composition that focuses more intently on the busy, abstract patterns created on the surface of the water by anchors, chains and ropes than by the boats floating above. Beneath his etching, a lithograph by Ella Sophonisba Hergesheimer similarly captures swirling reflections near a dock.
In-house curator Sarah Kate Gillespie will lead a Tour at Two of the exhibition on Wednesday, May 25 at 2 p.m. 

Art Parties: Both “David Ligare” and “Frank Hartley Anderson” will be focal points of Museum Mix on Thursday, Apr. 21 from 8 p.m.–12 a.m. and 90 Carlton: Spring on Friday, Apr. 29 from 6–9:30 p.m. The thrice-annual party Museum Mix will feature DJs Lunar Landers and Jack Jigglez spinning 45 RPM records, complimentary refreshments and late-night access to galleries. The Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art’s quarterly reception will offer gallery activities, door prizes and an “Ask the Experts” hour. Other exhibitions currently on view include “VVOX: Refining Realities,” “Master of Fine Arts Degree Candidates Exhibition,” “George Segal: Everyday Apparitions” and “Twists and Turns: Sculptures by Alice Aycock.”