The Newman University Steckline Gallery will present "Subjects Removed" by Johnny Sutton as the sixth show of its 2013-2014 season. The exhibit of photography, which begins with a Final Friday reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28, will be on display through March 21. Both the reception and admission to the gallery are free and open to the public.
An "Art for Lunch" presentation by Sutton will be held Tuesday, March 4 from noon to 1 p.m. in the gallery. A light lunch will be served on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests can also bring their lunch. This event is also free and reservations are not required.
Sutton studied sculpture and painting at Wichita State University from 1969 to 1972, spent six years travelling the world, and exhibited his paintings regionally through the 1970s and '80s. In 2000, he started exhibiting photography and has centered on that medium since, while still maintaining his "painter's eye."
Over the past four years, Sutton has divided his time between living in Wichita and in Bassano del Grappa, Italy - a small, picturesque town near Venice. During this time, Sutton wrote a novel: a political exposé set in southern Italy. With his book completed, Sutton returned to artwork. The Boat Series is his first exhibit of new work in five years.
The artist Steve Murillo has described Sutton's newest work, saying, "He calls upon his skills as a painter, juxtaposing, layering and augmenting with reflective watery abstractions, a tapestry of files from a sundry collection of images, to establish what at first seem like snap-shots, yet these are anything but. The compositions feel like paintings; everything within the frame is under Sutton's control."
For Sutton, boats symbolize self-reliance and an escape from society. "It's a self-contained existence. You're on your own out there, to deal with the unpredictable," Sutton has said. His exploration into the subject began with fishing boats that had been pulled out of the water, looking as if they were washed ashore, stripped of valuable parts and left to rot on the beaches of Sicily, Ireland, Greece, and Italy. Then his subject shifted to the canals, pleasure craft, workboats and water.
Through his work Sutton asks, "Are intangible reflections less valid than wood and steel? What is manifest? Sharp details suggest that the boats exist as presented. It is a misdirection. When all things visual are given equal weight, subjects can dematerialize. An artist may reassemble as he chooses. He is not obligated by what he sees in front of him."
The Steckline Gallery is located inside the De Mattias Fine Arts Center on the Newman campus, 3100 McCormick. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by appointment. For more information, call 316-942-4291, ext. 2199.