STORY WRITTEN BY CHERYL THORNBURG
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A visit to the Reading Public Museum’s exhibit, “Rob Evans: Mystery and Metaphor — Four Decades of Work,” is a bit surreal. Evans has a gift for making the ordinary extraordinary. Some of his paintings capture quiet moments in time and others explore the infinite vastness of it.
Whether it’s a painting of a kitchen scene with a refrigerator door open and dishes in the sink or an infant sleeping in the middle of a big bed, Evans draws the viewer into a very personal setting. At the same time other canvasses look at the big picture, the evolution of man and the beauty of nature as seen in detailed paintings featuring moths and insects.
His technique is masterful. Look closely at a painting and you see minute daubs of paint, but step back and you see a myriad of birds in “Migration” or a blanket of crisp autumn leaves under a tree on a patio.
Once you have seen Evans’ work, you will recognize it anywhere. His viewpoint is unique and intriguing and his subject matter is deeply personal and at the same time — universal.
The museum press release describes the exhibit this way: “The show features more than 40 works spanning four decades of work by this York County artist. Ranging in size from two-inch square, meticulously crafted miniatures, to monumental triptychs and altarpieces up to 12 feet in length, the works in the exhibit provide a cross section of the themes the artist has worked with over the years. The pieces draw unconventional metaphors from the local, natural landscape and commonplace people, places and things near his home and studio along the Susquehanna River.
“Presented in a broad variety of media — oils, acrylics, pastels, graphite, lithography, watercolor and digital printmaking — these themes include a series of mysterious interiors which have a decidedly narrative quality, images of insects and natural history specimens, figurative works portraying the artist’s family, and luminous studies of the Susquehanna River Valley during various seasons and times of day. The exhibition is grouped by theme and subject matter and includes some of the artist’s most well-known major works such as Evening Ritual (1989), Cicada (2001), Moth (1993), and Origins (2007), as well as some more recent paintings.”
Evans now lives on a farm once owned by his maternal grandparents, overlooking the Susquehanna River in York County. He lives there with his wife Renee and two children (all artists), and maintains his studio in a renovated barn on the property. His unique studio will be featured in the upcoming book Artists Homes and Studios by Ashley Rooney to be published by Schiffer Press in 2015.
His works have been acquired by and exhibited in prominent museums around the globe including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, Corcoran Museum of Art, San Francisco Art Museums, Portland (OR) Art Museum, Delaware Center for Contempoary Art, Arkansas Arts Center, and the Tretyakov Museum in Moscow to name a few.
IF YOU GO
The exhibit, which is sponsored by Penske, will be on view in The Museum’s second floor American Gallery through Dec. 7.
The Reading Public Museum is supported in part by grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and is located at 500 Museum Road, in West Reading. Admission per day is: $10 adults (18-64), $6 children/seniors/college students (w/ID) and free to members and children three years old and under. The Museum is open daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.readingpublicmuseum.org