Local artist displays work at Sweet Briar

| September 17, 2008

Paintings by local artist Ivar Strand will be on display Sept. 25 through Feb. 8, 2009 in the Benedict Hall Gallery at Sweet Briar College. The exhibit will open at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 25 with a reception and gallery talk by the artist.

This self-portrait, “Chemo Curl,” was done after the artist finished chemotherapy for leukemia. Strand said, “Although I don’t look like Tony Bennett, my hair did for awhile.

Strand, a resident of Amherst, is a professor emeritus of agricultural and resource economics at the University of Maryland. He began concentrating on painting after his retirement, shifting his attention from the economics of the Chesapeake Bay and fisheries to the art of agricultural produce – mostly fruit – and other vegetation.

“My focus is on composition in still-life oil painting,” Strand writes in his artist’s statement. “Most of my painting could be classified as naturalism, although I have a definite interest in the more abstract content of compositions. The abstraction arises in the use of shadows.

“Shadows in a still life seem to me to be like death in life. That is, shadows have no existence without the objects of the still life. Yet they can have a profound effect on how a still-life painting performs. The simple geometric shapes introduced by shadows (and light), and their ability to introduce nuances in motion and interpretation, are particularly fascinating to me.”

Rosalie Day White, an Amherst County Public Schools art teacher, has taught Strand in several classes at the Lynchburg Art Club. “I watched his work and technique grow rapidly with each class,” she said. “He has an amazing feel for color and geometric shapes, and his paintings reflect this feeling. He has an affinity to still life and paints them in an abstract realistic style.”

Sweet Briar’s Margaret Banister Writer-in-Residence, Carrie Brown, serves as guest curator of the exhibition. She has known Strand and his wife, Nancy, for about 10 years.

“Every time I visited their wonderful house in Amherst, I was arrested by Ivar’s paintings, and I’m delighted that before her departure from Sweet Briar [art gallery director] Rebecca Massie Lane arranged for a show of Ivar’s work,” Brown said.

“I’m always amazed by people who seem to be as multitalented as Ivar, who is both an economist and an artist. My judgment about art is entirely instinctual rather than critical, but Ivar’s paintings are the sort I’d want to own myself, beautiful works that make you stop and see the world afresh.”

Gallery hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Friday and 1 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Admission is free. For more information, contact galleries director Karol Lawson at 381-6248 or klawson@sbc.edu.

Category: Studio Art