The New Real

Curated by Sarah Wilson
July 7 - August 18, 2012

Closing Reception: August 4th, 6-9 pm

Collectors Art Night: August 3rd, 5:30 pm

Tinney Contemporary is pleased to present The New Real-a contemporary realism exhibition curated by Tinney Contemporary gallery director, Sarah Wilson. Featuring works by six nationally recognized artists from across the country, The New Real seeks to demonstrate the continued relevance of realism in a contemporary art culture that defines itself by rebelling against traditional art genres.  By utilizing inventive techniques and captivating subject matter, artists Eric Zener, Ali Cavanaugh, Danny Heller, Kay Ruane, Brian Tull, and Ron Porter nod to the age-old genre of realism, while reinventing our perception of it.  

Though each artist defies the modern art world's notion of realism in his or her own way, collectively, they represent a new class of artists who are putting realism back on the map after fifty years on the periphery.  Using a carefully constructed visual language of symbols and personal iconography, these artists breathe life into the realism genre with art that is accessible, yet still challenging.  Whether struck by the psychological aspect of Zener's underwater paintings, the irony of Porter's landscapes, or the quiet intimacy of Cavanaugh's portraits, viewers will be drawn in by the artists' conceived "realities." 

Wilson's hope is that the exhibition showcases realism in a way that is fresh and exciting with artists whose works exemplify the new generation of realism-The New Real.

Eric Zener was born in Astoria, Oregon in 1966, but grew up in Encinitas, a small beach town just north of San Diego.  A self-taught artist, Zener is best known for his photorealistic figure paintings of lone subjects, often in or around water.  He began his first water paintings in 2003 while living in the Costa Brava region of Spain. Zener became interested in watching bathers, and began a series of paintings of water, and of people interacting with water. Many paintings from this series depict women swimming underwater amidst air bubbles, or diving into the water, and have been described as reminiscent of Hudson River School and Barbizon School painters.  Zener describes his "super-realist" style of painting as "Contemporary Renaissance."

Zener's work has been exhibited internationally in Australia, Japan and Spain and is included in numerous corporate, private, and museum collections. His work has been featured in the Robb ReportJuxtapozArt & AntiquesTravel & LeisureNew American PaintingsNew York MagazineThe San Francisco Chronicle and ArtNews Magazine, among others.   

Ali Cavanaugh was born in St. Louis in 1973 and has worked as a professional artist for 15 years. Her compositions are strong and intuitive, thanks not only to being a wife and mother but also to the variations in her experience-such as hearing loss-that made her adapt to and recreate the world around her. Cavanaugh developed a process best described as neo fresco secco, where she applies watercolor to plaster panels; her figures often are accentuated by stark white negative spaces. Fascinated by the dichotomy of the seen and unseen in the human condition...body and soul...Cavanaugh's art brings to light the complexity within contemplation. Her signature poetic titles are part of this engaging discourse. 

She has had 40+ solo and group exhibitions in galleries throughout the U.S.  Perhaps because of her work's infectious energy combined with deep reflection, her collectors are particularly devoted. Her work has received extensive recognition and is featured in more than 400 private and corporate collections throughout the U.S., Canada, England, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, Singapore, and Australia. She now lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and three children. 

Danny Heller was born in Northridge, CA in 1982. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, the artist was able to carefully study the golden landscape of Los Angeles, which would shape his later body of work.  For formal art instruction, Danny left the Valley for the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  While studying under landscape painter Hank Pitcher, Danny earned a B.A. in art with an emphasis in painting.  After formative years spent capturing Santa Barbara's surf landscapes, Danny's attention turned toward retro iconography characteristic of mid-century Los Angeles.  Having set up his studio in Silver Lake, the artist now concentrates on chronicling Modern American imagery, specifically focusing on the architecture, design, and car culture found in Southern California. 

Danny Heller's paintings have been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the world, from Miami to Los Angeles, and most recently in Paris, France. The variety of collectors who have sought out his work are a testament to the artist's success. Some have purchased work featuring familiar locations, while others collect purely for the artwork's inherent formal qualities. 

Kay Ruane was born in Chicago, IL in 1956.  As a visual artist, she uses her distinctive and highly crafted technique to create tiny graphite worlds.  Each piece presents a dream-like vision of a figure inhabiting a richly detailed interior, along with a landscape, seen through a window.  The view outside the window is often in dramatic conflict with the interior, creating tension with a suggestion of unease or impending disaster.  A running theme in the works is cultural disconnect, combined with a longing to be a part of a culture, or physical reality different from one's own. This longing is juxtaposed with a fear of actually experiencing the culture, or other world, represented "outside the window."

Ruane has been featured in exhibitions throughout the United States and her work is held by museums and corporate collections nationwide.  Ruane's formal education includes a BFA from the University of Illinois and studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, though her informal arts education started far earlier, when her mother would give her old greeting cards to entertain her while she was in her crib. Ruane spent hours examining them, eventually copying their motifs. She also developed an early fascination with anatomy and the figure while pouring over her father's medical texts.  Kay currently lives in Cambridge, MA with her husband, Doug, and their two cats, Yuki and Noodles.

Brian Tull was born in Jackson, TN in 1975.  A self-taught artist and lover of all things nostalgic, his paintings in acrylic and oil capture ordinary moments and reflections from the 1930s through 1960s.  Tull's interest in design from this era ranges from simple appliances such as kitchen juicers and toasters to mid-century modern housing and automobiles. His paintings often feature the female figure as protagonist -- ranging from graphic-oriented works suggestive of the Pop Art movement of the 1960s, with images rich with unmixed color and bound by hard edges, to true photorealism.

Tull's work has been exhibited throughout the Southeast and is included in many private, corporate, and institutional collections.  Tull currently lives and works outside of Nashville, TN.

Ron Porter lives and works in Nashville where he maintains a painting studio.  His works present settings that are psychologically open-ended, where irony often prevails, and ideas present clarity and ambiguity as one. He has recently retired from teaching drawing and painting at Vanderbilt University. He graduated Cum Laude from Middle Tennessee State University and Summa Cum Laude from Ohio University. He grew up in East Tennessee. He is represented in numerous collections in the United States, as well as Europe.  He is represented by Cumberland Gallery in Nashville, Tennessee.