Sometimes, (still) life is just a bowl of pomegranates
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe

Special to the Star-Telegram

Artists working in the well-trod paths of landscape, portrait, still-life and genre painting banded together to launch this juried exhibition at Pan American Art Gallery in Dallas.

Members of the International Guild of Realism may follow these paths as if those traditional styles are the north, south, east and west of painting. But the 21st-century, post-abstraction perspective also makes marks on the map. In this roomy show, still life becomes the most psychologically potent path and comprises the lion's share of the nearly 40 works by 21 artists.

Scott Royston's oil, Finding the Center of Interest, models the internal-vs.-external battle in still life. His subject is a pile of pomegranates in a bowl atop a wooden box. Taped to the box is a pencil drawing of the composition, and several other pieces of tape mark where other preliminary drawings may once have hung but are now ripped away. An unused paintbrush lies nearby, as does a pencil sharpened to an abnormally long point. An amber crystal hangs above it all, pointing to the center of interest. Of course, the crystal is unconcerned with the artist's efforts and simply points to a spot created in the middle of the fruit pile.

Duffy Sheridan's Self-Portrait is particularly crisp, with his piercing eyes meeting the viewer's gaze. He puts an old face on a young body so that viewers may delight in the details of his glasses, ponytail and handlebar mustache. Likewise, Ken Fuller's Violin & Money, Tribute to Georgia O'Keeffe and Victoria's Letter Rack relish in details by focusing on collections with plenty to look at and think about.

Among the few landscapes selected for the show, Mike Mazer's are also the only watercolors. His painterly ease with the medium is magical. At Dusk makes poetry of the possibilities in unattended fishing lines. Other boats have been put up for the night, and a few lights shine through the rising fog from the far side of the bay.

Besides those by Mazer, a pair of oils by Tony Pro, In the Garden and Serenade are the only painterly works in an exhibit characterized by sharp lines and smooth brush strokes.

The guild is international, although the work in this first show is nearly all by Americans or foreign-born U.S. residents. But the passion among these painters for combining traditional subjects and a realistic yet worldly view is infectious. It's likely that this exhibit is the first of many good things to come.

International Guild of Realism: First Annual Juried Exhibition
• Through April 23
• Pan American Art Gallery
• 3303 Lee Parkway, Suite 101
• Dallas
• (214) 522-3303