Spring 08 Feature
A Painter Shares his Technicolor Palette
By Elisa Chemayne Agostinho
San Diego-based artist Joseph Metcalf has been creating bold, bright canvases of landscapes for over eight years. But it was a childhood drawing of an athlete that first unearthed his special gift. “It was in Miss May’s fifth-grade art class,” recalls a chucking Metcalf. “I drew a football player, and it came out really good.” The enthusiastic response to his work struck a cord. “I suddenly realized that I was good at this,” says Metcalf. “But growing up in a very small town in a rural community, it just never occurred to me that being an artist was an actual job, or something you could make a living at. I had no role model for that.”
The idea still hadn’t occurred to him years later, until a personal epiphany during his senior year of college led him to change his course-literally and figuratively-and enroll in the fine arts program at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design in Denver, Colorado. There, Metcalf found the creative outlet he had been searching for all along, and was finally able to marry his love of science with his passion for art. “After getting through the basics, I started to incorporate a lot of science theory into my work,” says Metcalf. “I shifted from an analytical approach to art to one that was more abstract, yet encompassing elements of quantum physics, mechanics and multiple dimensions.”
That approach-and those seemingly juxtaposed elements-are evident in the saturated, sometimes lurid colors of his conceptual, dream-like acrylics, which have been showcased in one-man exhibitions and group shows around the country, lauded in Art World News, and featured in a recent Oxford University Roundtable on art and science.
Today, 30-year old Metcalf can be found in his at-home studio, splashing his stylized interpretations of nature across the canvas and looking towards the future. “I’d like to give other artist the opportunity to show their work,” says Metcalf, who formed his Arise Art Group company with that, among other things, in mind. And a foray into performance art is underway, too. “I would like to experiment with other mediums,” says Metcalf. “But I will always be a painter. I could spend a lifetime just painting.”
-showcasing the Best and Brightest in San Diego’s Art Scene
Contemporary Artist Joseph Metcalf Becomes One with Nature
By Tali Hammond
Despite being mere minutes away from snow-capped mountains, endless deserts, towering forests and isolated shores, it s startling easy to live in San Diego while overlooking our existence in nature. This busy, urban life is distracting.
One thing we do have time for, though, is gallery-hopping, and currently at the Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery in La Jolla is Joseph Metcalf, whose landscapes are just the antidote to our intrusively metropolitan lives; paintings that simultaneously demonstrate a removal from and nostalgia for, Mother Earth. Metcalf spent his childhood immersed in the wilderness of rural Colorado. After attending the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, he ended up in San Diego by, literally, throwing a dart at a U.S. map. The city can be difficult for emerging artists, according to Metcalf, as the major retail galleries don’t often feature contemporary works, and people don’t purchase much art. Metcalf’s advice for improving the scene? “Go see art!” And, as a bumper sticker on his truck puts it: “BUY ART.”
His landscapes – which frequently play with unusual but balanced color palettes and undulating lines that somehow make already living things more vivacious – don’t usually portray a specific site. Referring to them as “mindsccapes,” Metcalf explains that his paintings take form by “thinking of a space, an emotion, or a memory and working from there.”
The result is a stylized landscape with unexpected melodic colors interspersed among the fleshy curves of hills, trees and bodies of water. Sometimes the view is aerial, other times the perspective is head on, but, as Metcalf puts it, “the space is always as if the viewer is not part of the painting but looking through a window.” Metcalf’s landscapes come in may forms – wistful, exultant, youthful, surreal – and each renders a very different experience and feeling, but every one reminds the viewer of his separation from the scenery to which he is undeniably related. Metcalf laments, “Great conquerors that we are, we have paved, cut and displaced that which we see as an obstacle to overcome.”
That said, his paintings are full of feeling and emotion, which exists without a message “Vibrant Shore,” for example, is a painting derived from Metcalf’s costal life, its colors and shape suggesting the effervescence of the San Diego lifestyle.
Metcalf, with wife, Traci Taylor, founded the Arise Art Group, a developing production company for artists. His paintings are featured at the contemporary Fine Arts Gallery in La Jolla and at the Sharp Gallery in San Diego. Next month he will be showing at Artexpo New York – an esteemed, international fine art exposition.