The Hot Hands of Summer: Ric McCauley

(Detail from “Hot Hands of Summer”)

The Hot Hands of Summer: New Paintings by Ric McCauley

Opening Reception July 16, 2016
Gallery 209, Cape Charles, VA

(Detail from “Forgotten Floods”)

Gallery 209 welcomes new work by painter Ric McCauley following his near sell-out show of May 2015. Whales and sea life make return appearances, as does the artist’s sly, understated commentary on the way the natural world is affected by technology. After Hurricane Sandy, surely no one in Cape Charles can underestimate the impact Mother Nature has on humans. McCauley looks at such things from the animal world’s point of view, as in his acrylic painting “Forgotten Floods”, in which an elephant makes an escape by boat. Other paintings question mankind’s impact on nature, such as “Autocorrect”, which depicts a whale turning into metal to ward off human hunters.

(“Ground Control to Major Tom”)

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Mostly McCauley’ work is full of joy and humor. His is a world where dogs are as likely to be found on telephone lines as birds are… and usually those dogs are Labrador retrievers. McCauley and his partner have owned two such dogs. Their current pet, Ellie, models for several of these paintings. Most notably is “Ground Control to Major Tom”, which reworks recently departed musician David Bowie’s 1969 song “Space Oddity” into a lament between a satellite and a blond canine wearing a cone collar that doubles as a radio dish. When Ellie is not modeling, she can be found rolling in the castoff paint covering her master’s drop cloth. McCauley employs a splatter and scrubbing technique for many of his backgrounds and textures, and sometimes the price for such work is a yellow Lab with a blue tail.

Miss Ellie supervises her master’s work

In Cape Charles, you just might spot McCauley painting in his back yard. He typically starts a canvas by first layering broad washes of acrylic color down on canvases that sometimes reach 4 feet by 6 feet. He scrubs at the surface or sprays it with water to remove excess paint and achieve texture, a process that allows random images to emerge and helps him intuit the detail work that comes next as he brings each painting to its final resolution.

(Detail from “Operation Migration”)

McCauley’s current show consists of fourteen large-scale new works as well as a small suite of miniature paintings. His whales, jellyfish and other sea life ground him as a thoroughly Eastern Shore artist, and his large-scale painting “Midnight on Mason” is an homage to the home he’s found here.

 

“Midnight on Mason” (Detail from a larger canvas)

McCauley grew up in rural West Virginia, and the traces of his early country living–exploring wildlife, growing his own food in the family garden–can be found in the foxes and plants that sneak into his other paintings. He graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a BA in Fine Arts in 1993. There he studied printmaking, photography, and oil and acrylic painting. Recently McCauley recently won Best in Show at the St. Mary’s alumni exhibition (Boyden Gallery, 2014). His work is part of several private collections and his commercial clients include the Cape Charles Hotel. Recently his art was featured in Sports Business Daily’s write-up on Billy Casper Golf, whose Reston, VA, corporate office features one of McCauley’s buffalo paintings.

To contact the Artist: RicMcCauley [at] yahoo.com

or contact Gallery 209 (ask for Sandy)
209 Mason Ave, Cape Charles, VA 23310
 (757) 331-2433

gallery209@gmail.com

What Ya Gonna Do This Summer?

I’m stealing this idea from Philebrity editor Joey Sweeney. What are the things you are looking forward to between now and Labor Day 2015? Here’s Mine. Now it’s your turn! #SummerToDoList #summer2015

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Painting by Ric McCauley

What I’m Looking Forward to Doing the Summer of 2015
–meeting my friend Steph (along with all out other peeps) to show her the pleasure of happy hour drinks at Harbor Park.
–water gun battles.
–corn, potatoes, shrimp and sausage boiled in Old Bay.
–actually calling at least one old friend a week to catch up and stoke the embers of the good times we’ve shared.
–drinking wine and watching movies in the park.
–checking out the El Bar and hearing friends’ old stories about getting chased and beaten up on that block and boy has this neighborhood changed…
—-hanging out at the Lambda Literary Writing Retreat and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. (https://kellymcquain.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/lambda-literary-fellows-need-your-help/)
–reading for pleasure (hammocks preferred).
–planting something and watching it grow.
–wearing sandals every day.
–aw, hell. Going barefoot.
–helping my high school pal Ric hang his solo art show on the Chesapeake Bay.
–Jersey tomatoes.
–taking pleasure in my friends’ successes.
–jazz cocktails on M Restaurant’s patio.
–t-ball and playground trips with my adorable nephews, and pool trips sans their water wings. Checking in with all the other nieces and nephews, too.
–getting someone to go tubing with me in New Hope, or canoeing in the pine barrens…
–drawing, painting, getting messy and having fun.
–talking to someone older who might be able to give me a little wisdom for what’s ahead.
–wearing breathable seersucker shirts and shorts.
–eating outside.
–jumping in a fountain and pretend I’m on Friends.
–visiting Mom at her WV home… and seeing what latest critter has tried to get inside her house (in the last year, it’s been a mother bear with her cubs, two blacksnakes, and myriad deer. Only an enterprising groundhog has actually made it all the way into the living room)
–eating my way through Philly’s festivals. (Italian Market Festival? Check. Greek Festival? You’re up next)
–sudden thunderstorms where the temperature drops fifteen degrees in twenty minutes.
–peeling off wet clothes with someone I love.
–beach trips to Jersey, Delaware, and beyond, I hope.
–discovering the Drink of Summer (Paloma? Dark ‘n Stormy? Mojito? Some new invention?)
–writing, writing, writing. Finishing things, finishing things, and not beating myself up when I don’t finish everything.
–making a summer Playlist with the help of my music guru (he owns nearly six thousand CDs and they are all alphabetized! I know, I know. What’s a CD?)
–easy desserts of John’s Water Ice (lemon) with a shot of limocello (add strawberries for additional fancy-pants points.)
–hard cheese drizzled with honey infused by chocolate and habaneros (thank you, Mr. Artisanal Beekeeper at the Italian Market).
–seeing two summer blockbusters back-to-back on the big screen. Maybe even three!
–celebrating Walt Whitman’s birthday with some great out-of-town writers as part of the “Five for Philly” reading at Giovanni’s Room. https://www.facebook.com/events/836983619708969/
–shooting the shit with my neighbor in his yard.
–taking part in some exciting secret projects with various literary journals.
–and so much more!

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Visual Fables for the 21st Century

Fire at the Surface: Imagery and Process in the Paintings of Ric McCauley
Gallery 209, Cape Charles, VA

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“Fire at the Surface” –Detail, Ric McCauley, 2015

In Ric McCauley’s paintings, you will find whales listening to iPods, elephants riding Ferris wheels, dogs walking on power lines, and richly textured abstract color fields resonating with vibrant energy. A surreal dreaminess permeates McCauley’s work, as well as a deep love of the natural world. McCauley studied painting at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he graduated with a BA in Fine Arts in 1993. There he studied printmaking, photography, and oil and acrylic painting. Recently McCauley recently won Best in Show at the St. Mary’s alumni exhibition (Boyden Gallery, 2014), and his work is part of several private collections.

McCauley grew up in West Virginia, swimming in creeks and sewing a garden to provide for his family’s supper table. Early on he learned how to get his hands dirty in the best possible way. He knows that an idea needs to be carefully tended if it’s to grow into a work of art. Now, as a seasonal resident of Cape Charles, sea life has recently entered his visual lexicon. His new body of work ranges from textured color fields (“Fire at the Surface”) to whimsical juxtapositions of nature and technology (“Whale Pod”).

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“Whale Pod” — Ric McCauley, 2015

In many ways, Ric McCauley is a process painter. He harnesses the chaos of his raw materials through will, determination, and a sense of play. It’s a delight to watch him work as he blasts tracks from his enormous music library in his Virginia studio or Cape Charles back yard. McCauley starts a canvas by first layering broad washes of acrylic color. Then he scrubs at the surface or sprays it with jets of water to remove excess paint and achieve texture. Rorschach shapes emerge. These serve as a catalyst for the dream-like imagery McCauley teases out of his projects. In “Buffalo Carnival #1”, an enormous beast of the plains carries a roller coaster on its back; in “Kiss the Sky”, a subterranean city hums beneath a melting, volcanic-orange atmosphere.

Interestingly, McCauley’s visual sense is informed by the fact that he is colorblind. He is unable to distinguish between certain shades of red and green, so you won’t typically see these colors side by side in his work. Instead, McCauley explores unusual palettes of blue and yellow, of orange-reds against stark blacks and winter whites.

His influences include Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko as well as Pop Artist Andy Warhol, whose Interview magazine was a literary and visual staple during McCauley’s formative years. Keen-eyed gallery goers will spot the influence in McCauley’s use of repeated motifs, as well as the black silhouettes that echo Warhol’s stenciled silkscreen shapes. McCauley also cites German artist Anselm Kiefer’s use of unorthodox methods and materials as an additional influence, though McCauley’s imagery tends to be more hopeful than Kiefer’s.

"Buffalo Carnival #1" by Ric McCauley

“Buffalo Carnival #1” by Ric McCauley

 

Is a painting like “Buffalo Carnival #1” reducing wild creatures to mere landscape? Or is it trying to remind us that the world we build our playthings on is actually animate and alive? Ric McCauley isn’t one to wags a finger. Instead, his artwork–with its fanciful shapes and colors, with its strong eye for form and balance–points toward the accord we must reach with the natural world. Deceptively playful, these paintings linger in the imagination with the power of enduring truth: they are new fables for the 21st century.

–Kelly McQuain
May, 2015
Cape Charles, VA

 

20150523-013840-5920436.jpgUPDATE:  Well over half the paintings at McCauley’s May 2015 solo show at Gallery 209 were sold to collectors on the opening weekend. Nearly all the remaining paintings sold shortly thereafter. A show of new work is scheduled for 2016. Those interested in McCauley’s newest creations, or inquiring about a commission, may contact Gallery 209  or the artist directly at:

RicMcCauley [ a t ] yahoo.com
Gallery 209 (ask for Sandy)
209 Mason Ave, Cape Charles, VA 23310
(757) 331-2433

“Jelly Headphones” — Detail, Ric McCauley

 

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Birds in Stormy Skies

Ric McCauley, my childhood friend from West Virginia, is a painter. In his new beach house, one of the first things he did was take down the old owner’s art (he and his partner bought the house fully furnished) and hung recent work of his own. Here is one of his paintings from a series on birds. I quite like Ric’s keen design sense and the scrubbed textures he manages to pull out of the acrylic washes he uses.

Typewriters and Teenage Potboilers

A few weeks ago, I visited an old high school friend, Ric McCauley, and his partner Steven in Cape Charles, VA, a beach town down on the Delmarva Peninsula near where the Chesapeake spills into the Atlantic. A very quiet place. Ellie, their Labrador, was kind enough to pose with an old typewriter left behind by the previous owners of the beach house, and I snapped a few photos.

My mother was a typing teacher in the days before typing became “keyboarding”. Old typewriters were common around our house. My father, an auctioneer, was always getting them at flea markets or auctions. The clunky things didn’t fetch much of a price. The first story I ever typed up was written on an old typewriter from the ‘40s or thereabouts. I never got much beyond the first page; it was to be a tale about a dark and stormy night, full of broken wine glasses, bear skin rugs and the kind of backstabbing I saw on Dallas and Dynasty. Good thing it made it into the old circular file.