Barry Gealt’s The Cave

Barry Gealt (American, b. 1941)
The Cave, 1994
Oil on canvas
62” x 40”
Collection of Anthony J. Moravec
Columbus, Indiana

“There are no footholds, no people.”

Barry Gealt’s massive landscape paintings are now hanging in the Special Exhibitions Gallery on the first floor of the Indiana University Art Museum and as curator Linda Baden put it, “you don’t have to know anything to feel it.”  Each piece, though derived from an actual physical space, requires no prior knowledge of the scenes that Gealt depicts of Mother Nature.  What’s more important in Gealt’s work is what the viewer feels when they stop to look and what they take away with them.

As I was walking through the gallery I stopped and felt sucked into one particular piece. Gealt’s “The Cave” has you peering over into a dark abyss, which draws you inward as if you are just about to fall in.  The exterior of the cave with its thick layers of paint continuing past the border of the canvas, colorfully and vibrantly contrasts the immense darkness of the abyss below. Many of Gealt’s works play with this paradoxical viewpoint of nature, showing that beauty and beast can reside in the same space. The vigorous and heavy layers of brushstrokes and paint violently cover the canvas but are balanced by the fine and intuitive oil crayon marks.

To put it in Gealt’s own words: “When you look at one of my paintings, you see a perfect world.  But inside that world you may also see upheaval, solitude, a sense of daring and the unknown.  There are no footholds, no people.  It’s just nature and my thoughts pushed out into nature.  Making a perfect world doesn’t mean it’s all happy.”


Meet the Artist: Barry Gealt

Indiana Vista, 2001
Oil on canvas
36” x 36”
Collection of Ann and Rusty Harrison

These paintings are exquisite. Barry Gealt’s technique is delicate and beautifully abstract. Last Saturday I attended a Meet the Artist event with Mr. Gealt, where I learned a ton about painting and art.

“Some people only need a few colors, and I say ‘Great! No competition!’ because what they make will be dull.”

Coming from a man with over 60 jars of paint powders, Barry believes in color and variety. This is obvious in his paintings, where you can find pinks and whites and blues and purples all mixed in a scene to depict a landscape. He layers the painting, so many of them have what appears to be almost an inch thick of paint. The layers provide a strong sense of depth of field for the landscapes.

These layers add up. His bigger paintings hold about $2000 worth of paint!

Mr. Gealt does not paint outdoors, while looking at the scene. He paints a scene he knows well by memory. It’s a full place, not a piece of scene, he says. He likes to paint perceptually.

“The tools you use help the way you work, or hinder”

My favorite part about the event was his discussion of materials. In addition to all the different colors of paint, he uses several different kinds of brushes, like bulls hair brushes, bristle brushes, fresco brushes, and acrylic brushes and each provides a different effect.

He also uses baker’s palate knives, which he claims are sturdier and more durable than painter’s knives. These tools help create the perfect textures and grooves in his paintings that make you feel as though you are a part of the scene.

As an intern this summer, I saw a few of Barry’s paintings during preparation for his show. From first glance I was very excited to see the rest of the paintings. He is extremely talented and his painting style is incredible. Make sure to take a look at his work in the Special Exhibitions Gallery on the first floor of the art museum, on display until December 23rd.


Coffeehouse Nights Are A Big Success!

Hurdy-Gurdy Music in the Art of the Western World Gallery

Thursday, September 27th, concluded the IU Art Museum’s annual Coffeehouse Nights series. Over the past three weeks, the museum featured each of its three permanent collection galleries—the Arts of Asia and the Ancient Western World;  Raymond and Laura Wielgus Gallery of the Arts of Africa, the South Pacific, and the Americas; and the Art of the Western World. At each Coffeehouse Night  featured musical performances that related to an individual gallery.The musicians this year included Salaam, Dr.Djo Bi, and Tomas Lozana.

Out in the main lobby, the crowd came rushing in for the free coffee and desserts courtesy of Angles Café (located on the second floor of the museum) and Bloomingfoods!

After the caffeine and sugar worked its way through everyone’s stomachs, people eagerly made their way into the Gallery of Western Art with a pencil, a clipboard, and a gallery scavenger hunt in hand.

The traditional “hurdy-gurdy” music, performed by Tomas Lozana, flowed throughout the entire gallery creating an artistic atmosphere that was not only visual but musical as well.