Father and sons' paintings an exploration in family connection, artistic vision

nancykwellard@gmail.comDecember 5, 2013 


    "Dan, John & Danny McCaw: New Work" is on exhibit through Dec. 9 at Morris Whiteside Galleries, 220 Cordillo Parkway, Hilton Head Island. Details: www.morriswhiteside.com, 843-842-4433

On a recent fall evening, art appreciators, collectors and followers of California painter Dan McCaw gathered at Morris Whiteside Galleries on Hilton Head Island to see not just McCaw's work, but that of his two sons, Danny and John, as well.

The trio of artists came from Torrance to celebrate the opening of their most recent collection, "Dan, John & Danny McCaw: New Work."

Ben Whiteside, who with Jack Morris directs the activities at Morris and Whiteside, said he was totally taken with "Biding Time," a large canvas in shades of gray to white, with occasional flashes of persimmon orange and electric pink. The image of a young woman with a rosy-cheeked, almost expressionless countenance captured my imagination. Particularly unusual and compelling about this painting was that, unlike so much of Dan McCaw's work, which invites the viewer to participate in defining the detail, the face of the young woman was completely presented, right down to the angle of her head, the shape of her lips and, most especially, the focus of her gaze. The piece is filled with vision and insight.

The application was deftly manipulated, too. Wide swaths of the palest color provide the ground -- thickly applied and with a density we associate with oil and encaustic. There were moments when the impact of the piece seemed to reveal itself in the way a sculpture might suddenly emerge from shapeless stone.

As I continued through the gallery celebrating the richness I found in the work of the three, the astonishing face of that incredible woman remained in my memory.

The impact of the relationship between father and sons is apparent.

"The unifying characteristic in all of us, besides our passion for our work, and achieving our desired outcome, is pushing our own limits," Dan McCaw said. "We encourage each other to push each other to explore all options and to arrive at new emotional connections."

John McCaw's work is wonderfully abstracted. Make sure to see the strikingly horizontal "Orange Appeal" and the earthy "Textured Field." These are compelling pieces made the moreso through their contrast and their size, 40-by-48 inches. They are perfect examples of the heavily encrusted earth tone paintings for which he is known. Again, though abstracted paintings, they are rich in form, design and shape.

Danny McCaw provides an image that is a reflection of his perception of life experiences. The subject matter, though, he said, is secondary. It is his response to his focus that captures his attention, and this directs his accomplishment.

"A Point in Time," a generous 35-by-35 inches oil on board, is loaded with moody impact, and characterizes his artistic focus. It provides the viewer with a perfect example of his mastery of his medium. Here we can appreciate his successful outcome through careful texturing, which he achieves not only by his application and building of layers, but also by way of his careful sanding and scraping.

"I think there are common threads that run through our paintings," Danny McCaw said. "Not limited to color nor the application."

The exhibit flowed artfully through the galleries. I enjoyed not only the image and composition, but, very especially, the application.

"We do work and support each other in our studio ... and really are not critics of each other's work," Dan McCaw said. "We keep our comments positive ... I think we all become our own judge."

The work of the three will remain on view at Morris & Whiteside through the weekend.

Artist, musician, teacher and writer Nancy K. Wellard focuses on portraying and promoting the cultural arts, first in Los Angeles and, for close to 30 years, in the Lowcountry.


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