The Springfield Museums present LUSTER: Realism and Hyperrealism in Contemporary Automobile and Motorcycle Painting at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, open through August 23. LUSTER is a traveling exhibition comprised of over fifty paintings by fourteen of today’s realist and hyperrealist artists who specialize in automobiles and motorcycles as their primary subject of choice.
A tour-de-force of artistic virtuosity, the exhibition also highlights the best in automotive design and style, from the early days of the automobile and motorcycle to the present. Such a visual history finds special meaning here in Springfield, a city that played a key role in the history of automobile and motorcycle production. In addition to being the site of Charles and J. Frank Duryea’s 1893 test of America’s first successful gasoline powered vehicle, Springfield was home to the Knox Automobile Company, a Stevens-Duryea Company plant, the Atlas Motor Car Company, an important Rolls-Royce manufacturing plant, and of course the legendary Indian Motocycle Company from 1901 through 1953.
“LUSTER is a fantastic complement to the outstanding collection of cars and motorcycles on view at the Wood Museum of Springfield History,” said Maggie North, Curator of Art for the Springfield Museums. “The exhibition celebrates the skillful application of paint employed by contemporary realist artists, and it also provides insight into the history of automotive design, a history that is near and dear to the city of Springfield.”
Exhibiting artists include (in alphabetical order): A.D. Cook (Las Vegas, NV), Randy Ford (Eastampton, NJ), Allan Gorman (West Orange, NJ), Marc G. Jones (Loveland, CO), Cheryl Kelley (Northern California), Richard Lewis (Los Angeles, CA), Lory Lockwood (New Orleans, LA), Robert Petillo (Hardyston, NJ), Kris Preslan (Lake Oswego, OR), Joseph Santos (Buena Park, CA), Ken Scaglia (Weston, CT), John E. Schaeffer (La Grange, TX), Guenevere “Moto Painter” Schwien (Portland, OR), and Harold Zabady (Camp Hill, PA). Their work exemplifies the very best of automotive painting being done today, and builds on that of the first wave of photo-realists in the ‘60s and ‘70s, which included the likes of Harold Cleworth, Don Eddy, Richard Estes, and Ralph Goings.
LUSTER encompasses a broad range of cars and motorcycles from vintage vehicles from the 1940s and before to more recent classics. During the post-World War II boom years, cheap gas and the advent of the Interstate Highway System in 1956 propelled automotive design and sales. In the 1950s, the industry reached new heights by offering consumers increased horse power for thrust and speed, and more artful, integrated design which was dramatized in the 1960s with features such as tail fins. LUSTER features paintings of passenger automobiles from those boom years and since, plus a range of motorcycles and racing vehicles.
Like the shiny automobiles and motorcycles portrayed by the exhibit’s artists, its paintings can be characterized by the luster that permeates their imagery. Chrome ornamentation and trim together with enameled bodywork, glass, and interior fabrication to meet the needs of purpose-built vehicles of all sorts: these are the surfaces which recent realists and hyperrealists have exploited to generate true, virtuosic masterpieces.
“We are delighted to celebrate the reopening of the Museums through this special exhibition of exceptional paintings of cars and motorcycles,” said Heather Haskell, Director of the Art Museums and Vice President of the Springfield Museums. “The depictions are outstanding examples of photorealism and hyperrealism and stunning in their detail. We invite visitors to also explore the Contemporary Gallery while visiting the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, where they will discover additional examples of photorealism, including a large painting by American artist, Don Eddy, of a Volkswagen, one of his favorite subjects to paint in the 1970s.”
Serving as Curator for LUSTER: Realism and Hyperrealism in Contemporary Automobile and Motorcycle Painting is David J. Wagner, who earned his PhD in American Studies and served as a museum director for twenty years.