The Promise of Life: In Memory of Stephen Metcalf
Posthumous Exhibition | Stephen Metcalf (1948-2020)
- Exhibit Dates: August 20- October 2, 2021
- Reception: September 17th, 5:00-7:30pm
Exhibit Info & Statement
The Promise of Life
August 20 - October 2, 2021
About the Artist
Born in Chicago, Stephen Metcalf grew up in the Midwest. As a child he practiced drawing and painting, and by the time he started art school at the University of Illinois his drafting skills could mimic photographs. Frustrated by the tedious nature and predictability of this process, he decided to reinvent himself as an artist and as a graduate printmaking student at the University of Illinois. He produced mixed media paintings and large scale works on paper that were recognized by their inclusion in major exhibitions like Drawings USA 77 at the Minnesota Museum of Art and Works on Paper at the Art Institute of Chicago.
After receiving his MFA in art and design, Stephen produced hundreds of paintings which are represented in public, private, and corporate collections throughout the United States, including the Illinois State Museum, the Minnesota Museum of Art, the Kirkwood Center Hotel, the U.S. Military Hospital on Nellis Airbase, and the Cleveland Clinic.
The promise of Life
Gilded Pear Gallery is honored to exhibit, posthumously, the paintings of Stephen Metcalf. This exhibition acts as a celebration of the artist, and his work, who passed away August 19, 2020. Due to the Derecho, a natural disaster that devastated the city of Cedar Rapids that same month, the gallery was unable to properly acknowledge his passing and is celebrating his life and art one year later. A sister exhibit of Steve's work is also on display at Olson-Larsen Gallery in DesMoines, Iowa, September 10 - October 2, 2021.
On display in the show are Stephen’s recent oil paintings on paper as well as early works (c.1980). While the gallery is paying homage to the artists work, this exhibition is not a retrospective of his overall body of work.
"Simply put, I believe my work is about the act of painting. My paintings, which are non-objective, have influences in the environment. As a painter, my journey is one of discovery through the exploration of ideas, materials, and process. My techniques, which are my own, were not learned or invented in order to paint but were discovered through the act of painting. Each painting is a record of my journey and I invite you to engage in your own personal dialogue with them."
Remembering Stephen & his Art
“I recall vividly the day in the mid 80’s when I first "met" Stephen Metcalf’s paintings. At the time, Stephen worked through an agent. As the paintings were pulled from a large portfolio, I found myself immersed in a series of works....fluid, hypnotic shades of blues and greens, mesmerizing slivers of jeweled tones that peeked out from rivers that ran through each panel. They were distinctly different from any other paintings our gallery represented at the time, but I couldn't resist purchasing several. I didn't care if they would appeal to anyone other than me. But they did. In fact, before we could remove the paintings from their spots on the viewing floor, someone who was to become a future friend of the gallery, walked in and bought two. Funny, how I can still "see" those first paintings.
That day was the beginning of a long history of anticipating the brilliance of each new series and each visit....and finally meeting Stephen, the artist, the colorist, the man and the friend, in person. I feel particularly fortunate to have experienced so much of his genius first hand for so many years.”
- Janelle V. McClain
Founder and former owner | CornerHouse Gallery & Frame (1976-2007)
"My first introduction to Steven’s paintings included his poetic titles exclusively. His earlier works didn’t embellish much in the title, but around 2014 we started to see titles like “Everything Was Suddenly Clear” and “I Don’t Know Why You Must Go.” His work is removed of representational subject, but after reading the title and taking in the dreamy (and pristine) gradients of color, interrupted by breaks of line and halos of white surrounding them- it is tough not to concoct some narrative between the transition of these actors in hue. "He Respects Him More Than He'll Ever Know", featured in this exhibition, is possibly the most stunning piece I've seen from him. There's a sharp, vertical division between a vibrant red/orange cacophony of lines at the left and breaks, suddenly, to a smooth gradation in a rich cobalt blue. Steve's paintings, to me, have always been about the beautiful balance of chaos and calm. And, although they are merely colors, they serve as a special, unconscious reminder of the relationships we hold with each other. Delicate, bold, imaginative, clashing, frayed… harmony."
Gallery Director | Gilded Pear Gallery