Sacred Thunder and Auto-Mending

By Abbey Frederick ‘20

Herald Contributor

Two new exhibitions are on display at the Davis and Solarium Galleries at Houghton House. Sacred Thunder features the ephemeral paintings of Barry Lee Darling, and Stephen Reber’s sculpture Auto- Mending explores the manufacture of cultural objects.

Barry Lee Darling’s vibrant paintings, on display in the Davis Gallery, explore fleeting moments of wonderment. His vibrant, life-sized works may inspire contemplation or elicit a visceral response. Darling refers to his paintings as “glimpses” of fleeting moments. Each captures “an image that could easily dissipate and return anew,” which may evoke a wide range of emotions.

Darling has drawn inspiration from artists such as Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, J.M.W. Turner, Richard Serra, and Pati Bonfe. Working primarily in acrylic and ink transfers, he describes his painting process as highly experimental, active and ever-changing. Darling’s work is “always a continuation, revisiting familiar ground.” This process is evident on the canvas: layers upon layers of paint applied with intricate brushstrokes give the works both a delicate beauty and an enigmatic allure. Each painting invites the viewer to pause and let his or her eye linger on each swirl of color.

Darling is from Upstate New York and has been painting for over 50 years. Sacred Thunder is a selection of his later work.

Just across the hall in the Solarium gallery, visitors to Houghton House can also see an installation by Stephen Reber entitled Auto-Mending.

This sculpture was thoughtfully tailored specially to be displayed in the Solarium room in order to enhance the viewer’s experience of the artwork. It was assembled there in modular components. The sculpture provokes reflection on the processes of

making and remaking industrial and manufactured objects, and the role of these objects in our lives.

In describing his goals as an artist, Reber says his process involves “foraging through the past to give voice to the future.” He explores industrial and architectural design tropes and concepts of thresholds and space through his artwork. His work presents a compilation of futuristic and nostalgic references which aim to “create a dialogue… for the viewer to examine the invisible components of our culture.” The installation at Houghton house certainly achieves this goal.

Barry Lee Darling’s paintings will be on display until February 23rd, and Stephen Reber’s sculpture will be displayed until February 26th, 2018.

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