Arts and Entertainment

Seeking shelter under a familiar roof

Richard Stine addresses his feelings in the show “Four Walls and a Roof.” - RYAN SCHIERLING/Staff Photo
Richard Stine addresses his feelings in the show “Four Walls and a Roof.”
— image credit: RYAN SCHIERLING/Staff Photo

Only a few weeks have passed since September 11, but already artist Richard Stine has tackled the difficult subject matter.

Stine swiftly reconfigured some works for a group show due to open at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts Oct. 6, “Four Walls and a Roof: The House as Image and Metaphor.”

“It’s about the people in power gobbling up the opportunity to make all these rules – I don’t want to move under the weight of someone else’s ideas of freedom,” Stine said. “We’ve got to seek out the terrorists. But we better be mindful of all the things civilizations have lost because of fear.”

For two years, Stine had been using the image of house, reducing the form to the peak-roofed cube of a monopoly game piece.

Now knives, American flags, a fierce figure Stine calls a “ninja,” airplanes and explosions also appear, while mottos like “New rules, more rules; less freedom, more safety” scroll across images.

The “house” theme for the BAC show was selected by artistic director Janice Shaw for the universal appeal of home as the central point, the base from which one operates. The theme acquired new resonance in the light of the tragedy.

“I did feel that the September disaster added a dimension to the show and gave it a timeliness,” Shaw said. “‘House’ becomes what protects us, our shell. ‘Home’ is sanctuary.

“What we wanted to do on Sept. 11 was gather our loved ones and be at home.”

Making works for an immediate gallery show addressing difficult and not-yet distant subject matter might have unraveled a less supple artist than Stine.

His swift response, however, is rooted in years of making art that is the concrete representation of his ongoing, interior monologue.

“My hands don’t have a mouth on them,” Stine said, “but it’s the most thorough way of thinking about something, for me.”

Making art does not necessarily engage only linear, logical thought; rather, meanings may be elliptical, or revealed after the fact.

In one work, a horizontal body floats under a peaked roof that seems itself to be rising into the night sky.

“This is the moment where my insides are hunting for memorial so I draw a naked body being lifted up, ” Stine said. “I may not know that when I’m making it. I don’t start toward a goal.”

He might begin a painting using drafting tools to make an ink drawing of a house, and build on that foundation using colored pencil.

His next move might be to scan that image into the computer to edit and print. Then he might work the surface by hand, sending the result back to the scanner.

The slow process of building layered surfaces lets the image emerge over time. The net result looks like a lithograph, a drawing, a painting and an etching all at once.

Stine says that while he is sometimes uneasy about removing the tactility of a surface made by hand, he likes the flexibility the computer offers.

“The computer extends my range,” he said. “It’s like a piano in some ways – if you need more keys, you just go on up the keyboard.”

Stine began drawing and painting the house images two years ago, using old drafting tools.

Although he let the tools form the house shapes to give his mind a rest, he says, it might be difficult to imagine his restless creativity in “time-out” for very long.

Everything he does, including the house renovation that is a pet project, is filtered through the creative lens.

“I’m never going to give up going forward,” Stine admits. “I make art like breathing.”

* * * * * *

Artists Richard Stine, Carolyn Law, Gayle Bard, Morgan Brig, Maggie Smith and Bob Lucas show works on the theme of “Four Walls and a Roof: The House as Image and Metaphor,” which opens with a reception from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 5 at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts. Call 842-3132 for information.

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