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Bob Ross at Gallery of the Senses

by Mervin Gilbert


Bob Ross: Vibrato At The Grotto(1983, 66"x86", oil)

Bob Ross: Alicia 1 (2001, 30"x40", oil)

Bob Ross: Elena Standing (2005, 40"x34", acrylic)


Bob Ross has been a leading exponent of abstract figurative painting in this area for the past 40 years. His current show at the Gallery of the Senses features recent works, the centerpiece a wall-sized oil, "Vibrato at the Grotto" (Ross has employed many colorful epigrams to describe his art). The painting's various shapes caracole around a realistic rendering of jazz saxophonist Eric Dolphy. Ross then allows the painting to dissolve into pulsing riffs of paint, some are parallel, some devolve into squiggles. A cataract of vertical stripes descends on the left framing a raw, primal area. It is a painting in transition, of strong, stylistic enclaves each claiming dominion over sections of the work, similar in spirit to Picasso's "Demoiselles d'Avignon."

Even though the paintings in this show are diverse, Ross's trademark virtuoso brushwork is always evident. The small "Alicia 1" is a curled up nude on a low, red platform. Vigorous, multicolor brush striations, akin to Van Gogh's, dance and link across her body. A pair of legs and a truncated sofa jut into the canvas at the upper right, reminiscent of the nude paintings of Philip Pearlstein.

The premiere piece is the Max Beckmannish "Elena Standing," an acrylic in which the main subject, a model wearing a blue slip, is intent on inspecting her left toe, her leg propped on the arm of a sofa, in a room surrounded by representations of Ross's artworks. This painting thrills on many levels: the lush brushing of the model is contrasted with the slashing exactness of a Japanese brush drawing of a nude on a panel upon whose wall is yet another Ross drawing. It's a tour de force in which Ross lets us glimpse into different openings, different possibilities. There's even a quick profile of a bearded gent with a top hat that evokes Lautrec.

Bob Ross Paintings & Drawings through July 29 at Gallery of the Senses, Main and Lansing Streets, Mendocino, Upstairs. 937-2021. Open daily (except Tuesdays) to 5.



Mervin Gilbert: Photograph of Bob Ross with Alicia 1

Bob Ross: Woman With Fan (2000, 10"X13", acrylic wash)

Bob Ross: Study of Plum, Boots (2000, 9"X12", watercolor)

Text copyright © 2006 Mervin Gilbert
Images copyright © Bob Ross 2006




August 17, 2005