3 Short Stories & 12 Options, an exhibition of new works by
Ken Dixon, will be on display October 19-November 16, at
William Campbell Contemporary Art. An opening reception will be
held on Saturday, October 19, 6:00-8:00 p.m. The show will include fifteen
large-scale, mixed media pieces completed over the past year and inspired by
Dixon's decades-long fascination with the Texas Hill Country and northeastern
United States. A visual convergence of art, science, and culture, the collection
explores themes of order and disorder on both macro and micro levels within
the environment. Additionally, Dixon addresses the role of technology in art
and nature as he intermingles digital imaging with painting and collage.
3 Short Stories & 12 Options comprises work made as a result of Dixon's most
recent trips to Texas' South Llano River, where he has traveled intermittently
over the past thirty years, and to the Hudson River region, which he has
visited regularly for the past decade. Especially embracing the environmental
and historical significance of these areas, the artist captures their iconic
landscapes, though not in the traditional sense. Dixon's landscapes have been
processed through physical and emotional filters, dissected, layered, and
re-constructed. In this manner, he calls attention to the effects of humankind
and technology on the environment and on the artistic process. The result is a
delicate-at times unnerving-symbiosis of hand-constructed and machine-made,
natural and material, which he refers to as a discussion among "the luminosity
of light, the grandeur of space, and the corrosive effect of human culture and
Dixon's artwork is based in a complex process that includes an amalgamation of media and means. Wood surfaces are randomly engraved before the painting ever begins, creating texture and referencing the ever-present subatomic action (chaos) below the surface. Digital photography and painting coalesce as he shoots elements of the landscape, then projects those images onto the support to be painted by hand and re-translated once again. He builds additional texture and dimension through collage, using torn paper often taken from digital photos of his woodcut prints. Additionally, Dixon's ongoing study of human origins, mechanics of the brain, ornithology, and the natural and physical sciences constantly informs his work, transforming an otherwise visual engagement into a thought-provoking commentary about contemporary culture.
Throughout the layers of paint, paper, and carved-out wood, Dixon presents overt
and subtle evidence of a pristine environment diminished by modern practices. The
whimsically titled Rock, Paper, Scissors belies its initial playfulness to address
environmental issues, in particular the haphazard way we regard our natural resources.
The hard lines of the paper frame the photorealistic scissors as they float atop
loosely gathered organic rocks and water-both a visual and psychological blockade.
Also an element of perceived, manufactured order, they interrupt the organic
process underneath. The push-and-pull created by this arrangement evokes ideas
about definitions of order and chaos in our environment, where each begins and
ends, and how one might be masked as the other.
Order & Disorder: Common Denominator exemplifies Dixon's interest in the digital
interpretation of the physical world. Here, the traditional landscape scene is
neatly cropped and framed, compartmentalized and controlled. Meanwhile, digitally
created, re-translated landscape details and design elements seep out from
behind like disparate puzzle pieces looking for their mates. Mechanically
uniform yet abstract, they create a sense of chaos, undermining the unblemished,
ordered landscape central to the piece. This interaction sets up a dialogue
between nature and technology, leaving the viewer to contemplate how the two
interact and whether the natural order can be maintained amid the chaos of
ABOUT THE ARTIST
With a career spanning forty-four years, Ken Dixon has long established himself as one of Texas' preeminent artists. His exhibition history includes numerous one-person, juried, and invitational group exhibitions across the United States, as well as several in Europe and South America.
Dixon is professor emeritus at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, where he taught
undergraduate and graduate painting for twenty-eight years. Among his awards are a
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Painting, Prints, and Drawing, and an
Outstanding Emerging Artists Award from the Galveston Art Center. His work is
featured in various publications, including Artlies, New American Paintings, and in the Sacred Landscapes catalogue, published by the Art Museum of South Texas.
Dixon's work appears in numerous public and corporate art collections, including those of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; the San Antonio Museum of Art; the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri; the Museum of Modern Art in Miami; Colorado's Boulder Museum of Art; the El Paso Museum of Art; the Grace Museum in Abilene, Texas; Citicorp; the U.S. Department of the Treasury; Verizon; and Southwestern Bell.
Born in St. Clair, Missouri, Ken Dixon did his undergraduate work at Drury College and Missouri State University in Springfield. He then earned his MFA in Painting and Printmaking from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He has been represented by William Campbell Contemporary Art since 1983.