Thursday, October 2, 2008

The 5 Artists Project: Dale Washington

Dale Washington. Installation. Mixed media, 2008.

I first became acquainted with Dale Washington and his art through an exhibition, and I interviewed him for ArtStyle Blog in December, 2007. For The 5 Artists Project, Dale carries over his theme of Chicago's art community from his current exhibition at Hyde Park Art Center.

Dale Washington. The Morning After Sunday. 2008.
Mixed media, 18" x 24".

Some of the visitors to the gallery have described his installation as art that conveys music and energy through his flowing ink drawings, rapid brush strokes, and vibrant hues. While his work ranges from minimalist ink drawings to abstract paintings of representational subjects, he generally focuses on people and how they function in their everyday environment. Those who know Dale say that he is able to capture the essence of the person he is drawing or painting, including himself.

Dale Washington. Self-Portrait. 2004. Ball point, 9.5" x 14".

Dale Washington. Self-Portrait. 2004. Ball point, 8" x 8".

Dale Washington. Portrait of Tracy Simmonds. 2008.
Mixed media, 8" x 10".

"The power of creation is the act of doing. The work for this exhibition reflects the vibrant present history of Chicago's art community."

Dale Washington. Billy Branch. 2008. Brush/ink, 8" x 10".

Dale Washington. Robert Minnerly. 2008. Oil paint, 18" x 24".

The following is a write-up in the Chicago Connection: The 5 Artists Project catalogue, which was published in August, 2008.

Dale Washington

Background - Painter, illustrator, and assemblage artist with more than 10 years of professional experience
- Attended Columbus College of Art and Design, OH, and University of Wisconsin-Madison; BA, Advertising, Columbia College of Chicago
- Teaching experience: Chicago Public Schools, ART Program; Hyde Park Art Center; Catalyst Charter School After School Program
- Grants: CAAP (Chicago Artist Assistance Program) Grant from Chicago Cultural Center, 2007,(used in his latest series of portrait work of Chicago’s art collecting community) - 2003 Artist of the Year Award from Southside Community Art Center, Chicago
- Featured artist in the catalogue African Art: The Diaspora and Beyond, documenting the collection of Chicagoan Daniel Parker, Gallery Guichard, Chicago, 2005
- Exhibiting since 1996

Selected Exhibitions
Kiss on the Cheek: Portraits by Dale Washington, 2008, Sunrise, 2007, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; Spirit of Sankofa, Group Show, Neleh Artistic Expressions, 2006, Chicago; After Qualls, Group Show, Southside Community Art Center, Chicago, 2006; Art Di Gras, Group Show, Gallery Guichard, Chicago 2006; Power of Creation, Francine Turk Gallery, Chicago, 2005; Color and Movement, Southside Community Art Center, Chicago, 2005; Reflections, Framing Mode Gallery, Chicago, 2005; 2004 Art Exhibition, Group Show, Steele Life Gallery, Chicago

Growing up on the south side of Chicago, where he now lives and works out of his home studio, Dale Washington has depicted in his art everyday people and situations in the urban landscape. His walls at home are covered with some of the art from his latest series – portrait paintings, drawings, and assemblages – of Chicago’s art collecting community.

His current work reveals the nuanced personalities of artists, collectors, and administrators in pen and ink, ball point pen, oil, acrylic, pastel, watercolor, and mixed media. Working in both figurative and abstract styles, he skillfully captures the essence of a personality in the natural pose of the body, facial expression, dress, and immediate surroundings.

A meticulous craftsman, he first takes photos of his subject and then does several sketches in ink. Working quickly, he then draws and paints different versions of the same subject one after the other, using different mediums. In his spontaneous style, he creates a languid pose of a collector with a ball point pen and just as quickly, a pensive portrait in colorful pastels. His compositions are well organized and carefully arranged with enough detail to make the subjects interesting, accessible, and compelling to the viewer. Even his skillful assemblages, made with found objects, come across as organic representations of the human figure.

Living and breathing drawing and painting, with sketch book in hand, he reveals, “There is a way of doing things in the right manner, being positive about it, being patient, trusting that the outcome of whatever aspect of what you’re doing will work through to everyone’s advantage. I approach my art in the same way.”

As part of his series on portraits of artists, collectors, and administrators in Chicago, he captures the essence of his good friend Robert Minnerly, a singer/guitarist of Brazilian and Portuguese music. The vibrant colors bring the musician and his energetic music to life. (Robert Minnerly image)

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