April 1, 2014
Contemporary Masters

THE Magazine
April 2014
Christopher Benson

But, if you still like art that isn't quite so caught up in the hunger for celebrity buzz and market success -- that isn't embarrassed by a more soulful kind of questing -- there's a show across the street that merits a look. David Richard Gallery has put on a survey of some of the best of our elder local masters. These are contemporaries of the luminaries at Zane Bennett who migrated away from the urban art world around the same time that the superstars were building their reputations in its center. The main room features large-scale formalist abstractions by the late Taos painter Oli Sihvonen. It's surrounded by a group show of expressive abstractionists who came here from San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and elsewhere. These include Lilly Fenichel, Eugene Newmann, Phillis Ideal, and Paul Pascarella, among others.

The David Richard exhibition is a real painter's show. As such, it's carrying a bigger gun than the print work across the street. Even so, we know the paintings and prints of the Zane Bennett artists well enough by now that it still feels like an illuminating comparison in the broader philosophical context of art versus market. The crucial difference between the two exhibitions is that one contains minor works by major (or more successfully commoditized) artists, while the other offers major works by artists who are comparatively minor. I hope both painters and proprietors at David Richard will forgive my use of those qualifiers, because in this context it refers only to fame. For my money, theirs is a more genuinely masterful kind of art than was made by some of their most celebrated contemporaries. -- Christopher Benson

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