Reynolds Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings, drawings, collages, and videos by Richard Carlyon (1930-2006), opening on Friday evening, January 19, from 7–9 pm. A pivotal figure in the Richmond arts community whose reputation as an influential teacher is legendary, Carlyon maintained an active and diverse studio practice for over five decades. A Network of Possibilities, curated by Ashley Kistler, offers the first in-depth look at the artist’s work since his retrospective nearly a decade ago. It includes a number of pieces on public view for the first time, as well as other works that haven't been seen in well over a generation.
Upon reviewing Carlyon’s vast creative output, Kistler notes, “What once again comes across most powerfully is the ‘network of possibilities’ that propelled his agile thinking, restless curiosity, and wide-ranging experimentation over the course of his long career.” Works in the exhibition cover a broad chronological range, beginning with a group of drawings from the 1960s and early 70s that reveals his gradual distillation of quotidian items and observations into simplified components.
Carlyon’s subsequent development of an abstract vocabulary, often anchored in everyday experience, is represented by paintings and works on paper from the mid-1970s and 80s. The show also includes a 2001 painting, one of his last, and a large group of late drawings, for which he used as source material a storehouse of ephemera gathered from the world at large. In them, words and their remnants play an increasingly prominent role, often with mischievous results.
Born in Dunkirk, New York, Carlyon moved to Richmond in 1950, where he earned his BFA (1953) and MFA (1958) from the Richmond Professional Institute, now the VCU School of the Arts. Joining the faculty shortly thereafter, he taught in the Departments of Painting and Printmaking, Communication Arts and Design, and Art History until his appointment as Professor Emeritus in 1996. Among his many accolades, Carlyon received the Distinguished Teaching of Art Award from the College Art Association in 1993 and the Presidential Medallion from VCU in 2005.
Following his death in 2006, a city-wide retrospective was presented in 2009, organized by Kistler, then Director of VCUarts’ Anderson Gallery, in partnership with colleagues at 1708 Gallery, Visual Arts Center of Richmond, and Reynolds Gallery. Bev Reynolds was an early and unflagging supporter of Carlyon and his work.
On Thursday evening, January 25, at 6 pm, Reynolds Gallery will host a panel discussion with Kistler, fine-arts conservator Scott Nolley, VCUarts emeritus professor Howard Risatti, and painter Paul Ryan. On Thursday, February 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, the VCU Libraries will celebrate the work and life of Carlyon by hosting a program and art show exploring their recent acquisition of his papers and digital works. Accompanied by a 40-page color catalogue with essays by Kistler, Ryan, and Chris Burnside, A Network of Possibilities will continue through March 9.