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Aug. 11, 2016
Memphis College of Art Presents Sammy Peters’ Then & Now in Hyde Gallery
Notable Arkansas abstract painter is first Visiting Artist Talk and Exhibition of the 2016-2017 year
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis College of Art (MCA) presents Then & Now, an exhibition of work by the prolific Arkansas-based painter Sammy Peters, on view Aug. 22–Sept. 30 in the Hyde Gallery of the Nesin Graduate School, 477 S. Main St. Peters will present the semester’s first Visiting Artist talk on Thursday, Sept. 29 from 12:30–1:30 p.m. A reception will be held Friday, Sept. 30 from 6–9 p.m. Both events will be held in the Hyde Gallery. Peters has exhibited extensively around the United States, and his work is included in numerous collections around the world including the Arkansas Arts Center, the McDonalds Corporation in London, England, The Venetian Resort Hotel in Macao, China, the estate of Winthrop Rockefeller and the private collection of actor Gene Hackman.
Then & Now will feature a combination of Peters’ large-scale abstract paintings and smaller works, completed in years spanning from 1963 to 2016. The paintings are a union of color, texture and space. Peters describes his work as a living dichotomy, straddling the line between ambiguity and rhythm. “My paintings have an intrinsic tempo within them that may not be obvious at first glance. I begin to sense the rhythm of the painting early in the work, and often that sense of rhythm asserts itself in devices like ladder shapes or stripes or polka dots or various marks,” said Peters. “The rhythm of the painting perpetuates itself and reasserts itself as I paint, and I just go along for the ride.”
Peters’ work is described as beautifully complex—avoiding traditional parameters in a time when society needs “tidily labeled” art—in an essay by international art writer and critic Peter Frank (Sammy Peters: Painting Unbound, 2016). “Peters’ approach to painting straddles the material and the pictorial, delights in sensuous skin and color relationships at once dissonant and delicious, and combines the decorative and the narrative without telling stories or striving for retinal gratification. Such painting evades classification with a chameleon’s elusiveness, implicitly taunting those who would try to entrap it.”
MCA Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs Remy Miller says Peters’ return to MCA, after exhibiting at the college as a Visiting Artist several times in the early 1990s, offers a rare opportunity for students and the Memphis community to see how the artist’s work has changed and developed over time. “Though his national and international exhibition record is long and impressive, it is characteristic of this modest painter to hold close to his roots,” said Miller. “He demonstrates that despite art world clichés, ambitious art of the highest quality is often produced outside the major art centers of the world.”
Peters was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas after his family moved there from Shreveport, Louisiana in 1945. He eventually studied art history and design at Little Rock University and the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark. Peters currently maintains a full-time studio practice in Little Rock, Ark.
Then & Now is one of a variety of exhibitions that MCA hosts for the community each year. All MCA exhibitions, receptions and lectures are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday–Friday, noon–5 p.m., and Saturday noon–7 p.m.
Photo: Sammy Peters, “Recognition: presence; concealed,” oil and mixed media on canvas, 72” x 144”, 2005
Memphis College of Art provides a rigorous curriculum in an intimate, diverse community to empower generations of leading artists, designers and educators to flourish professionally and contribute valuable ideas to society. The region’s only independent art and design college, MCA is fully accredited with expert, nationally renowned faculty and grants BFA, MFA, MA in Art Education and MA in Teaching degrees with graduates excelling in various careers across the country and internationally. For more information, visit mca.edu. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/memphiscollegeofart and on Twitter at @memphisart.