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Ja mes Shay Gr ove Studies


James Shay: Grove Studies


Ja mes Shay: Gr ove Studies November 10 - December 6, 2015 Reception for the Artist: Saturday, November 14, 5:30 - 7:30 pm

Front Cover: Upslope, 2015, casein on paper on panel, 54 x 50 in Back Cover: Grove Study 1, 2015, casein on paper on panel, 65 x 50 in (detail) Photo Credits: William Delzell, John Martin Studio Photo: Jason Wells Catalog Design: Donna Seager, Seager Gray Gallery Direct all inquiries to: Seager Gray Gallery 108 Throckmorton Ave. Mill Valley, CA 94941 All rights reserved.


James Shay: Grove Studies

From his Lucas Valley studio, James Shay finds inspiration in the dramatic rolling hills of the west Marin County California landscape. “My landscape paintings, abstract in nature, represent some of the sensuality within the natural world and contain memories of California’s oak-studded hills and valleys,” Shay says. “Beautiful visual analogies to human form - soft hills, curves, gullies, grasses and oaks – abound.” Stands of trees dot the landscape in the folds of the hills where the rainfall gathers in the wet seasons. It is these clustered “groves” of trees that form the basis of the exhibition, a study of shape and pattern inspired by nature, but clearly abstracted, allowing for rich contrasts of color and patterned separations of space. I. I try to construct a picture in which shapes, spaces, colors, form a set of unique relationships, independent of any subject matter. At the same time I try to capture and translate the excitement and emotion aroused in me by the impact with the original idea. -Milton Avery

James Shay’s early life reads like a Larry McMurtry novel. He was born in South Dakota in the heart of Midwest farmland and moved with his family to Yuma, Arizona at age thirteen, when his father purchased a Phillips 66 gas station outside of town. His early visual landscapes involved big skies, the Missouri River, desert sun and a great deal of wide open space. He remembers from a young age seeing Life Magazine articles about Abstract Expressionists like fellow Westerner, Jackson Pollock and the group that was to become the New York School. What struck Shay was the spirit of the work, the gestural freedom and lack of constraint. His early heroes were Clyfford Still, Arshille Gorky, Mark Rothko and Franz Kline. Shay’s work is distinctive in its use of casein, one of the oldest painting mediums in history – going back to ancient Egyptian tomb and temple painting. Once derived from milk protein, newer versions of the paint made from synthetic proteins lend themselves to a great deal of abrading during the painting process. For Shay, the ability to scrape and sand are essential, allowing him to reveal a painting’s history layering the work with a memory of time and process. Casein often has a matte finish, earthy like clay, giving the paintings a feeling of fresco, enticing the viewer with the use of an old medium used in a completely new way.


II. I should like to take the wind and water and sand as a motif and work with them, but it has to be simplified in most cases to colour and force lines, just as music has done with sound. - Arthur Dove

Drawing comparisons to Shay’s work proves an interesting challenge, but Milton Avery and Arthur Dove come to mind. Both believed in distilling an image by simplifying the shapes and removing unnecessary elements. In the Grove Series in particular, Shay’s trees are forms of contrasting color overlapping with dark shadows tracing their presence against the sunwashed hills. In other works in the exhibition, such as Arc or Into, contemporary Asian artists come to mind and in Wind Cluster, the blown shapes of leaves recall the playfulness of a Matisse cut-out. Nonetheless, there is something particularly Western about Shay’s work, a sense of wide space and controlled freedom. Like Diebenkorn, whose work was categorized in series based on the place where they were made (Berkeley Series, Ocean Park Series), Shay is influenced by environment, particularly the environment in which he lives. There is no shortage of artists setting out to capture the beautiful preserved landscape north of the Golden Gate Bridge, but Shay’s interests lie not in literal description, but in capturing the experience of being there. Since 1997, when he first began painting the landscapes of Marin, the work has become increasingly abstract, allowing for the kind of focused experimentation and immersion in process that excited him so long ago. The curved and sensual lines of the hills interrupted by the occasional copse of trees become generous forms to hold paint, providing the bones of the work and an open-aired arena for the event that is a painting.

-------------------------Grove Study 1 casein on paper on panel 65 x 50 in 2015

- Donna Seager, 2015


-------------------------Grove Study 2 casein on paper on panel 63 x 50 in, 2015

From the collection of Alain Pinel Realtors on display at one of their 33 Bay Area office locations.


-------------------------Grove Study 3 casein on paper on panel 59 x 49 in 2015


-------------------------Grove Study 4 casein on paper on panel 44 x 63 in 2015


-------------------------Grove Study 5 casein on paper on panel 48 x 49 in 2015


-------------------------Grove Study 6 casein on paper on panel 20 x 16 in 2015


-------------------------Grove Study 7 casein on paper on panel 29 x 22 in 2015


-------------------------Grove Study 8 casein on paper on panel 24 x 20 in 2013


-------------------------Grove Study 9 casein on paper on panel 29 x 21 in 2013


-------------------------Wind Cluster casein on paper on panel 48 x 39 in 2015


-------------------------Daydream Believer casein on paper on panel 65 x 49 in 2015


-------------------------Into casein on paper on panel 37 x 55 in 2015


-------------------------Bolinas Ridge casein on paper on panel 66 x 20 in 2015


-------------------------Arc casein on paper on panel 48 x 31 in 2015


-------------------------Upslope casein on paper on panel 54 x 50 in 2015


-------------------------Ever casein on paper on panel 66 x 20 in 2010


Ja mes Shay Born: Mobridge, South Dakota; 1948

EDUCATION 1971 Bachelor Degree/Architecture, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 1977 - 1979 San Francisco Art Institute, Painting and drawing classes with Jay DeFeo, Hassel Smith, Jack Jefferson and David Hannah.

Solo Exhibition, Susan Street Fine Art, Solano Beach, CA Solo Exhibition, Argazzi Fine Art, Lakeville, CT 2003

Outside, Within, Group Exhibition, Friesen Gallery, Sun Valley, ID Landscapes: Real and Imagined, Susan Street Fine Art,Solana Beach, CA New Dimensions, Group Exhibition, Friesen Gallery, Sun Valley, ID The Art and Craft of Fine Architecture, Group Exhibition, Marin County Civic Center. San Rafael, CA James Shay: Florals, Tercera Gallery, San Francisco, CA Terra, Solo Exhibition, Friesen Gallery. Sun Valley, ID Medium Rare, Group Exhibition, Friesen Gallery. Sun Valley, ID Earth and Sky, Group Exhibition. Munson Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

2002

Abstract Group Exhibition, Marin Arts Council, San Rafael, CA Group Exhibition, Tercera Gallery. San Francisco, CA Solo Exhibition, Tercera Gallery. San Francisco, CA Group Exhibition, Friesen Gallery. Sun Valley, ID

2001

Solo Exhibition, Friesen Gallery, Sun Valley, ID California Small Works, Sonoma Museum of the Visual Arts, Santa Rosa, CA Group Exhibition, Susan Street Fine Art, Solana Beach, CA. Solo Exhibition, Friesen Gallery, Seattle, WA

2000

Solo Exhibition, Tercera Gallery. San Francisco, CA Three Person Exhibition, Martin-Harris Gallery. Jackson, WY The Work of Four Painters, San Rafael Art Center, San Rafael, CA Group Exhibition, Friesen Gallery, Sun Valley, CA

1999

Group Exhibition, Martin-Harris Gallery, Jackson, WY

1998

Solo Exhibition, Bradford Smock Gallery, San Francisco, CA Group Exhibition, Bradford Smock Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1997

Group Exhibition, Bradford Gallery, San Anselmo, CA

1996

Juried Exhibition, Gallery Route One, Point Reyes Station, CA Two Person Exhibition, Bradford Gallery, San Anselmo, CA Group Exhibitions, Bradford Gallery, San Anselmo, CA

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS 2015 Grove Studies, Seager Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA Ritz Carlton Hotel, Northstar, CA Yuma Fine Arts Center Gallery, Yuma, AZ 2013

Solo Exhibition, Robert Green Fine Arts, Mill Valley, CA

2012

Group Exhibition: Stremmel Gallery; Reno, NV Two person show: Anne Loucks Gallery; Glencoe, IL

2011

Solo Exhibition, Robert Green Fine Arts, Mill Valley, CA Group Exhibition, Shattered, Marin Museum of Contemporary Art Novato, CA, juried by Kenneth Baker

2010

Solo Exhibition, Friesen Gallery, Sun Valley, ID Group Exhibition, Stremmel Gallery; Reno, NV

2009

Permanent installation at Renown Medical Center, Reno, NV Two person exhibition; Anne Loucks Fine Art; Glencoe, IL Two person; Anne Loucks Fine Art; Chicago, IL Solo Exhibition, Robert Green Fine Arts, Mill Valley, CA

2008

Group Exhibition. Renee George Gallery, Charlotte, NC Solo Exhibition, Susan Street Fine Art, Solana Beach, CA Solo Exhibition, Robert Green Fine Arts, Mill Valley, CA Two Person Exhibition, Stremmel Galley, Reno, NV

2007

Group Exhibition, Renee George Gallery, Charlotte, NC. Group Exhibition, Artisans Gallery, San Rafael, CA. Group Exhibition, Lindsay McCandliss Contemporary, Jackson, WY Solo Exhibition, Robert Green Fine Art, Mill Valley, CA Solo Exhibition. Friesen Gallery, Sun Valley, ID

2006

2005

2004

Installation of paintings at the American Embassy, Moscow Solo Exhibition, Susan Street Fine Art, Solano Beach, CA Group Landscape Exhibition, Hayes George Gallery, Charlotte, NC Solo Exhibition, Hayes George Gallery, Charlotte, N.C. Two Person Exhibition, Robert Green Fine Art, Mill Valley, CA Five Bay Area Artists. Friesen Gallery, Seattle, WA Landscape show. Hayes George Gallery, Charlotte, NC Solo Exhibition, Stremmel Gallery, Reno, NV Solo Exhibition,Friesen Gallery, Sun Valley, Idaho. Solo Exhibition, Robert Green Fine Art, Mill Valley, CA Solo Exhibition, Robert Green Fine Art, Mill Valley, CA Solo Exhibition, Tercera Gallery. Los Gatos, CA

1991 - 1992 In the Spirit of Modernism, SF Architecture Offices, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA 1988

The Outdoor Chair , California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA The Outdoor Chair, Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York, NY

1985

New Art Furniture, Triton Museum, Santa Clara, CA

James Shay has also written many published articles on art and architecture for the Marin Independent Journal.


James Shay: Grove Studies at Seager Gray Gallery  
James Shay: Grove Studies at Seager Gray Gallery  
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