In The Press

A Visual Experience

By: Brian O’Dowd

Recently I attended a special premiere showing of the works of talented artist Vernon Finney, who was on hand to greet the more than 400 guests who attended, many from the entertainment world. One of his many admirers is Donna Summers, the queen of disco.

Vernon Finney, a reserved and unassuming man, just could be one of the art world’s most thought provoking artists. Now showing at Carter-Sarkin Gallery, one has the disconcerting yet comfortable feeling that life is what one makes it.

According to Mr. Finney, “The single most important aspect that man has not been able to accept is that he is but a small part of nature; not separate from it. Could we but learn to nurture…..this marvelous environment, life could be quite utopian and plentiful for all mankind.”

Finney’s show is a visual experience. Equally consuming are the vivid colors and subtle communication. One can easily discern the underlying theme of peace and harmony that carries through a pleasant exchange with the artist.

Mr. Finney was born and raised in Oklahoma. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Oklahoma University in 1950. He has maintained a continuous and growing relationship with his art professionally and esthetically.

The public can view, now through Nov. 4, Finney’s fine works in a most relaxed atmosphere. Carter – Sarkin Gallery continues to bring to the public’s attention the talents and sensitivities of new California artists.

The Highest Art Exhibition in L.A.

Vision, progressive management and talent in the Park are combining to bring one of the most unique and original exhibitions of art ever seen in Los Angeles. The exhibition Reflections of Los Angeles, part of the Art in the Park project, will be featured in two sections. One will be a display of art works on top of the tower building in Park Labrea, and the second will feature hand painted canvases to be displayed on the light poles around the Park. 4 Tower buildings will project the art works symbolically to the four points of the compass. The art works will be chosen through a competition held by Park Labrea Management and the Park Labrea Arts Council. The winners will each receive $500 in prize money for their successful entry.

The idea was conceived by Pasqual Bettio, Founder/Director of the Park Labrea Arts Council, an artist and noted photographer in his own right. To kick off the exhibition, Vernon Finney, a prominent Los Angeles artist, and the Artist of the Year nominee for Sharing Friends of the Arts Society, has designed the first work. The design was transferred to a 20′ x 25′ vinyl sheet. Special lighting makes the art work visible from large areas within and around the Park.

Vernon Finney, has dedicated his life to his painting. In his works he is conveying a feeling and a message. He puts his ideas, concepts, and visions of scenery on canvas and the more you look at them the more you comprehend the message. But more than that, it is also a window into the man’s soul, feeling, and his perception of nature and the world around him. In his paintings many of nature’s images, all meticulously and realistically executed, are combined into a surrealistic and fictional image. Trees are engaged in conversation, clouds are watching a tight-rope walker. He paints nature as he sees it in his mind’s eye. It is not a duplication of what he sees; it is an interpretation of what he sees and the feeling that these sights have evoked within him. He is an artist who is able to put the vision of a dream on canvas. So vivid is his vision that he does not first draw the composition, but paints it directly on the canvas. His proficiency in the art and his skill is visible in every image. Each could have been put on a canvas on their own and would result in a great work. Not surprisingly, Vernon states that the real agony of an artist is not the lack of money; it is trying to get the idea and the feeling from within onto the canvas

In some ways, his works are reminiscent of the 16th Century Belgian artist Hieronymus Bosch, or early Dali. However, his subject matter is the exact opposite. While Bosch depicted “The Last Judgment” and Dali depicted chaos, war, destruction and the distortion of nature, Vernon depicts his subjects and nature in a constructive way which makes his task so much more difficult. As Paul Theroux the author said; “It is always difficult for a writer to make virtuous people interesting.” It seems also true when applied to art. The human figure appearing in many of his paintings could be anybody, or better still it, represents everybody. It also represents the relationship between humans and nature. Many of his canvases are large. It seems that the size of the walls in his house is the restricting factor. Vernon has also painted murals in Los Angels, Berkeley and Florida. He is included in “An Illustrated Survey of Leading American Artists; published in 1993, and his works have been exhibited around Los Angeles since 1978. Vernon lives and works in the Valley. Some of his works are available on Greeting Cards, but many of them are in private collections. Park Labrea Arts Council is honored to have Vernon Finney’s work as the “kick-off” of this unique art exhibition.

Surreal Soiree

On April 11, the long-awaited and eagerly anticipated GrandOpening of LGO International Galerie des Art in Palm Springs took place.

The occasion was the special showcase, appropriately entitled “Surreal Soiree,” featuring the work of local artist, Vernon E.Finney.  More than 200 people attended.

Let me just say at the outset that Finney’s canvasses are extraordinary; not because some of them are large; not because many of them come under the heading of ‘figurative’ paintings; and not because he draws well and knows how to lay oil paint on canvas; but because in a surreal format he has accomplished something which few artists achieve:  he has plumbed the depths of feelings. And, in so doing, he has succeeded in affecting our lives; he has drawn us into his world and made us feel.  Which is not unusual because Finney admits that “I paint mostly feelings.”

Man in nature is a favorite subject of Finney’s.  He doesn’t draw directly from nature; he does everything from memory, he says. But he will use a model on occasion if only to refresh his memory.  He says that recall, in itself is a very creative thing.

The idea for “The Magician” flashed into his mind.  “It glowed in my mind for just a second,” he says, “But the impact was so great.”  He reflects for a moment, then adds:  “I waited 8 years to paint it, and it took 1500 hours to complete.”

All of Finney’s figures are symbolic.  The single figure at the center of “The Magician” could represent God or even life itself.  They are there, according to Finney, for the transition of the thought.  In a wonderful painting called “Starmaker” a central figure, who sits among the clouds of heaven, holds in his hands what must be a star.  Finney explains that “Starmaker” is “a sort of celebration of the magnificence of the heavens”

About half of the show is made up of Finney’s landscape, some of which possess a kind of Magritte quality.  In a landscape like “The Canyon,” for example, certain elements of the composition remain hidden at first sight.  But the more you explore you may find faces in the rocks, or animals in the shapes of faraway mountains.

The painting that has the most impact on me, personally, is a large canvas called “Reach.”  It is made up of approximately 200 sets of hands which reach out from left to right to a single hand which reaches in from the right side of the canvas.  Finney explains that the painting symbolizes the struggle we each have with ourselves. The single hand might symbolize life, perfection, God, love, whatever it might be we’re all struggling for.  For me, it’s a reverential experience. Finney paintings are part of the gallery’s permanent collection.

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