(BOREUM LEE / THE STATESMAN)
Karen Levitov is the new director for the Zuccaire gallery. The gallery transforms for exhibits like “Form and Facture.” (BOREUM LEE / THE STATESMAN)

Escaping from the dreary weather and leaving their dripping umbrellas at the door, dozens of Stony Brook students and community members entered into the world of abstract art, where sunny sights and enticing illusions are a daydreamers paradise.

Splashes of color and delicate designs by six award winning New York artists plastered the Staller Center’s Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery in an exhibition of “Form and Facture: New Painting and Sculpture from New York.”

“This exhibition delves into the conceptual and aesthetic concerns of contemporary abstraction from six New York artists,” Karen Levitov, director and curator of the gallery, said.

The exhibit featured large scale paintings and sculptures created by Rachel Beach, Paul Behnke, Matthew Neil Gehring, Osamu Kobayashi, Rebecca Murtaugh and Fran O’Neill.
During an Artist Talk at 1 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 17, the artists explained how their work represented their personal pursuits, their experience with modern media and popular culture, their upbringing and life as a whole. All artists were present for the panel discussion, with the exception of Kobayashi.

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O’Neill, who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Post Grad studies from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and whose work has been featured in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, said that her process of “layering is a metaphor for life,” and her paintings represent life cycles and changes over time.

For O’Neill, her paintings are brought to life primarily through “a point of chaos,” which is created with “organic” color, lines and shapes.

Gehring, who received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Delaware and whose work has been exhibited across the United States, has a similar view on his painting process. When creating his work, he contemplates “what it means to be a person,” which he says is a very “subjective experience.” His paintings, which rely heavily on color and geometry, portray “their own world,” Gehring said. “They’re filled with love, they’re filled with joy, they’re filled with hope and exuberance.”

Getting back to basics, Beach, who was born in Canada and received her Master of Fine Arts from Yale University, said that she thinks about “how you make a structure and how you build something,” when stacking and sculpting her work.

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“The process and form for me is deeply connected in a factual and conceptual way,” Beach said. Creating her work is like “having a crush,” Beach said, “it tells you if you’re going in the right direction.”

For Behnke, who received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from the Memphis College of Art and whose work has been featured both nationally and internationally, said that his work, which often takes an “upside-down form,” is never planned. Rather, it is just created.

“I just start off by placing some marks and scraping layers of paint over those marks,” he said. “I alternate that process until I start to see something that clicks.”

Although planning is something that does not necessarily work well for Behnke, Murtaugh, who received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and whose work had been featured throughout the country, said that it is necessary when creating life-sized sculptures. After creating a model, she says she “works with her own body,” and makes her creative process playful by “seeing if I fit inside of that thing.”

Art enthusiasts can see that “thing” and experience the artist’s creative processes for themselves by viewing their work at Stony Brook University’s Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery, where the exhibition will be open to the public through Saturday, Dec. 13.

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Correction: December 2, 2014

A previous version of this article stated that Karen Levitov said, “This exhibition delves into the perceptual and aesthetic concerns of contemporary extraction from six New York artists.” Her quote was updated to say, “This exhibition delves into the conceptual and aesthetic concerns of contemporary abstraction from six New York artists.”

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