By Sabrina Moreno
If you ask Kelly Lonergan, he’s not a figure painter. The figures he paints on 48 by 60 inch canvas—a scale that excites him—are slightly awkward, clunky. But to him, that’s the best part. It gives them a sense of personality for viewers to cling and relate to.
In his show “And Then There Were Two,” on view at McGuffey Art Center this month, 10 paintings display the fascination with dance, anatomy, and human relationships that led Lonergan to explore figure painting 30 years ago. An idea that flourished from day-to-day “whimsical” sketches became a series of modernized, diverse depictions of Adam and Eve.
The process quickly became a rich and challenging experience for the artist. He noticed that the expulsion from the garden paralleled the beginnings of humankind, with the couple gaining awareness of a world outside themselves.
“I realized I couldn’t think of this as Adam and Eve without becoming much, much more astute in what I was doing,” he says.
Lonergan thought about the misogynistic practices, racial portrayals, and attitudes toward gender that are commonly associated with the Adam and Eve story. The series then became about communicating individual details—poses, body language, skin color, and clothes—in a way that would offer viewers different looks at the frequently painted couple.
“I guess yeah, I am a white guy and what can I say?” Lonergan says regarding race and gender. “But I like to think I’ve been trying to improve myself and inform myself, be inspired and be enlightened as a human being.”
For Lonergan, this story is one of a shared human experience and the liberation that comes with conscientiousness. With the recurring placement of the male and female figure, a chain link fence, and a brick pathway, Lonergan views Adam and Eve leaving the garden as empowering—regardless of where they go, the barrier has been broken.
January gallery shows
Annie Gould Gallery 121B S. Main St., Gordonsville. A show of acrylic and collage works by Judith Ely, and watercolors by Chee Ricketts. Opens Saturday, January 12, 2-5pm.
The Bridge PAI 209 Monticello Rd. “Signs of Change,” featuring work created by a group of jury-selected artists highlighting moments in Charlottesville black history. The work will also be on display in an outdoor gallery near City Hall on the Downtown Mall. 5:30-9:30pm.
Buck Mountain Episcopal Church 4133 Earlysville Rd., Earlysville. “Hope: Prepare the Way,” featuring work by BMEC artists.
FF Chroma Projects 103 W. Water St. “Of Space and Matter,” featuring drawings, prints, and mixed-media works of Jennifer Printz in the front gallery; and “Looking Just Past The Sky,” a series of manipulated photographs by Dan Mahon in the mezzanine. 5-7pm.
C’ville Arts Cooperative Gallery 118 E. Main St., Downtown Mall. “The Studio Sale,” during which many items in the gallery are on sale.
Dovetail Design + Cabinetry 309 E. Water St. “Winter Solace,” an exhibition of Melissa Malone’s oil and acrylic paintings on canvas of various bodies of water.
FF Fellini’s Restaurant 200 Market St. “The Motion and Emotion of Life,” featuring photography by Jacob RG Canon. 5:30-7pm.
The Fralin Museum of Art at UVA 155 Rugby Rd. “Pompeii Archive: Recent Photo- graphs by William Wylie,” opening January 18; “Reflections: Native Art Across Generations”; “Unexpected O’Keeffe: The Virginia Watercolors and Later Paintings”; “Camera Work: American Photography of the Early 20th Century”; “Highlights from the Collection of Heywood and Cynthia Fralin”; and “Oriforme” by Jean Arp.
Green House Coffee 1260 Crozet Ave., Crozet. “On Our Way,” an exhibition of paintings by Judith Ely.
Jefferson School African American Heritage Center 233 Fourth St. NW “(W)here To Stay?!,” An exhibition of Magnus Wennman’s photographs of Syrian refugee children accompanied by artwork and writings by Charlottesville High School students. Through January 19.
Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection 400 Worrell Dr. “Freshwater Saltwater Weave,” a series of glass works by contemporary urban-based Arrernte artist Jenni Kemarre Martiniello, through January 7; “Beyond Dreamings: The Rise of Indigenous Australian Art in the United States.”
Martha Jefferson Hospital Cancer Center, Second Floor 500 Martha Jefferson Dr. “Sunrises and Sunsets,” featuring work by Randy Baskerville.
FF McGuffey Art Center 201 Second St. NW. In the Sarah B. Smith Gallery, Kelly Lonergan’s “And Then There Were Two,” featuring paintings of Adam and Eve outside the gates of Eden moments after the expulsion; in the downstairs and upstairs North and South Hall galleries, an exhibition of work from McGuffey’s newest members. 5:30-7:30pm.
New Dominion Bookshop 404 E. Main St., Downtown Mall. “Summer Days,” featuring oil paintings by Blake Hurt.
Northside Library 705 Rio Rd. W. “Bold,” featuring acrylic paintings on canvas by Novi Beerens.
Piedmont Virginia Community College, V. Earl Dickinson Building, 501 College Dr. In the North Gallery, “Possibilities,” featuring ceramic vessels and objects by Tom Clarkson; in the South Gallery, works by PVCC art faculty such as Fenella Belle, Ashley Gill, Lou Haney, Will May, Beryl Solla, Jeremy Taylor, and others.
Random Row Brewing Company 608 Preston Ave. Ste. A. “Still Life: Love of the Familiar,” featuring paintings by Randy Baskerville.
Second Street Gallery 115 Second St. SE. In the main gallery, “Attraction,” an exhibition of new botanical work by John Grant; in the Dové Gallery, “TORN,” an exhibition of work focused on the modern portrayal of women by photographer Scott Irvine and artist Kim Meinelt, who together work as WAXenVINE. January 11, 5:30-7:30pm.
Shenandoah Valley Art Center 122 S. Wayne Ave., Waynesboro. The annual winter contemporary juried exhibition, this year titled “Women’s Work” and featuring work from Inez Berinson Blanks, Colleen Conner, Eileen Doughty, Sarah Lapp, Peg Sheridan, Astrid Tuttle, and others. Through January 19.
FF Spring Street Boutique 107 W. Main St. Downtown Mall. “From Alberta to Victoria,” a show of photography by Rob Myers. 6-8pm.
Studio IX 969 Second St. SE. “Dear Lilith: A Body of New Work. Sincerely, Sam Gray,” an exhibition that shares the unfolding conversation between the artist and Lilith, ancient mother goddess, proto-feminist, and original wife of Adam. 5:30-7:30pm.
UVA Medical Center Main Lobby 1215 Lee St. “Distant Worlds,” an exhibition of 15 deep space paintings by Patty Avalon, through January 10; and “Plant Life Up Close,” featuring 36 of Seth Silverstein’s close-up photographs of plant life, seeds, flowers, and more. Opening January 11.
Welcome Gallery 114 Third St. NE. “2019 New City Arts Artist Exchange,” featuring drawings, sculptures, embroidery, photography, and prints by Annie Temmink, Frank Walker, Golara Haghtalab, Grace Ho, Kaki Dimock, Karina A. Monroy, Matt Eich, and others. Pop-up exhibition opens January 9, 5-7:30pm.
FF First Fridays is a monthly art event featuring exhibit openings at many downtown art galleries and additional exhibition venues. Several spaces offer receptions.