Photography by Eric Almquist and Paintings by Warren Croce
Opening Reception: Friday, January 9, 5:30-8pm
From the minds of men throughout our human history have come many great things: works of great beauty, invention, scholarship…but also power, destruction, manipulation, and war. What happens in the minds of men has had a profound effect on human destiny–oftentimes resulting in tragic consequences. Belmont artists Warren Croce and Eric Almquist have tried to address and reflect on some of these issues in the new thought-provoking IN THE MINDS OF MEN exhibit at the Belmont Gallery of Art.
Jim Dow, professor at Tufts University and himself a noted photographer, says, “In the Minds of Men is a thoughtful pairing of these images and art’s role in our culture and its ability to comment on politics, both big P and small. The artists’ work is very subject-specific, but they can be looked at as genuinely beautiful images.”
As Dow notes, “Most people who see the show will have very strong opinions about the subject matter. The show will make visitors come away from the show feeling challenged, but in a Socratic kind of way.”
“There is a certain disquiet to the work in this show”, says artist Croce. “I can’t say I’m happy with the direction our country took in recent years and it manifested in my work. I hope that doesn’t mean George W inspired me,” he says laughing.
“Some of my art has a political aspect to it. The ‘CEO’ series is me expressing some anger about our country having devolved into a plutocracy where the wealthy (and corporations in particular) have a disproportionate influence on government. These faces I paint … they are the face of greed.”
A graduate of Pratt Institute, Croce says he’s had a pencil in his hand since he “was a small kid.” He spends a lot of time drawing the human figure, “Many of my paintings, whether they are oil, acrylic or mixed media, contain a figurative aspect. When I paint, I never know where I’m going to end up. It’s always open to possibility.” Several of Croce’s oil stick on board portraits in the show have an almost menacing and confrontational quality about them. They’re intense and challenging to the viewer–it’s hard to look away.
Longtime Belmont resident Almquist’s work in the show includes a number of photographs from his series “Trinity,” which focuses on the three US atomic bomb sites during World War II. Almquist’s photographs, taken during a visit to the Alamogordo, New Mexico, bomb test site location in April 2003, have a haunting, almost-surreal feeling about them.
I photographed the site a couple of years before the 50th anniversary of the first atomic test. I’ve always been interested in the Manhattan Project–the enormity of the undertaking, the science and scientists involved, and the goal to “have the bomb” before the Germans. The Bomb is such a complex topic from a moral perspective–it helped end World War II but it killed many Japanese civilians; many of us have lived under it’s threat for decades, but nuclear detente has been effective in that no bombs have been used in war since WWII. While disarmament is progressing, the worry is ever greater about bombs being used by terrorists. So it’s a very complex and emotional set of issues.