Archive for November 2nd, 2012

“Chief Wolf,” 2010, acrylic on canvas, by Ric Gendron. (Courtesy of Ric Gendron)

By Cory Walsh, of the Missoulian:

Painter Ric Gendron’s focused lifestyle probably accounts for large body of paintings he’s created in his distinctive, brightly colored style. And it might also explain why he’s “hidden from the mainstream,” as it’s put in a new midcareer survey.

“My life is simple. Every day I paint, play my guitar and take care of my grandkids. That’s all I do,” the Spokane resident tells independent curator Ben Mitchell in “Rattlebone,” both a hardcover volume of his work and a traveling exhibition set to open Friday in Missoula.

“This is painting from his heart,” Mitchell said of the 40-some works dating back to the late ’80s going up at the Missoula Art Museum. During more than 50 trips to Gendron’s small, many-hued garage studio, he said the painter was always sitting at the easel, painting and listening to music. “He gets up in the morning and paints – and he paints all day long.”

Gendron, in his late 50s, began supporting himself solely by painting in his early 30s, and according to Mitchell’s writing, he’s never supplemented that income by teaching, or gaining representatives or commissions in major cities.

His figurative works have absorbed the influence of Fauvist color, the loose graffiti of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Francis Bacon’s mysterious, contorted figures. However, there also are echoes of Indian artists Fritz Scholder and Rick Barto, and his own experiences as a member of the Arrow Lakes Band of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville, a Salish tribe in Washington.

While his work is well-known in Spokane and the Sante Fe Indian Markets in New Mexico, this exhibition will bring his work to its largest audience yet. “By far in his career, this is the largest showing of his work, and more people will come to know it,” Mitchell said.

After Gendron and Mitchell’s project initially faltered in eastern Washington, the Missoula Art Museum picked it up. “We’ve always believed in Ric’s work as well,” said Stephen Glueckert, MAM curator, “and have respect for Ben’s skills and abilities and insight as well. It was a real natural fit for us.”

It’s also the first hardcover publication MAM has produced in recent memory, Glueckert said. The 128-page volume features full-color plates, historical photos from Gendron and a monograph written by Mitchell that places the painter’s work in context with his background and influences.

Mitchell broke down the appeal of Gendron’s paintings as the exhibit was going up on the walls. “I find his work very approachable because it’s figurative,” he said.

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