SAMMY PETERS, ‘THEN & NOW’
“Then & Now,” an exhibition of paintings by Sammy Peters, reveals at least one central point — that the artist has dedicated himself to the possibilities of abstraction throughout his entire career. Closing today, but with a reception tonight, the display of 23 works in the Hyde Gallery at Memphis College of Art’s Nesin Graduate Center ranges chronologically from 1962 to this year, proving that over 54 years an artist’s technique may evolve while his vision remains steady and true.
The motto on the artist’s website is “Painting … always painting,” and indeed the evidence of this display reveals a man obsessed with shape, form, gesture and action, constantly seduced by the elemental, pliable, protean nature of the pigment itself and the essential solitude of an artist facing a blank canvas with equal parts thoughtfulness and excitement. Although he has spent the majority of his life in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was educated Circuitous Succession Gallery, 500 S. Second: Christopher St. John, Jason Stout, Juan Rojo, Robert Moler: “Four Painters  Four Walls.” New work. Opening reception 6-9 p.m. Friday. 901-229-1041. circuitoussuccession.com The Gallery at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 2425 S. Germantown Road: “Art Wild: Artists of the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee,” Monday through Oct. 30. Exhibit will be part of a celebration of the arts which will include Tim Sharp and Wes Ramsay’s “Come Sammy Peters, “Recognition: presence; concealed,” oil and mixed media on canvas, 72-by-144 inches, 2005. From “Then and Now” at the Memphis College of Art’s Hyde Gallery.
in that state, there is nothing insular or Southern about Peters’ work. His accomplishment rests on a highly individualized vocabulary of sign, color and movement that achieves international scope. To enter a gallery filled with his work is to step into a realm that’s as sophisticated as it is eccentric, as droll as it is mystical, as exuberant and colorful as it is contemplative. Several of these paintings are so immense that you feel as if you actually are stepping into them.
The earliest piece in the
Away to the Skies: A High Lonesome Bluegrass Mass,” performed by the Rhodes Singers and Women’s Chorus, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7. A reception honoring the performers and the artists follows performance. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sunday. 901-754-7282. stgchurch.org Gallery Ten Ninety One, 7151 Cherry Farms Road (WKNO Digital Media Center), Cordova: Winterarts 2016 Preview Show,” Monday through Oct. 28. Opening reception 2-4 p.m. Oct. 9. Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. 901-458-2521. wkno.org
exhibition, from 1962, is “Nosegay with Kohlrabi,” oil and mixed media on canvas (as most of these are) and a splashy, fireworks display of punchy and floral brushwork bearing little resemblance to the later works except in its sense of rhythm. That quality is as fundamental to a painting by Sammy Peters as it is to a piece of music; you cannot look at one of his works without being drawn in to the sensation of shifting mobility and development. Peters employs every technique
Memphis Botanic Garden, 750 Cherry Road in Audubon Park: “Hughes Art Show,” Tuesday through Oct. 31 in Visitors Center Gallery. Opening reception 5-8 p.m. Oct. 12. Works in various media by Dr. Allen Hughes, Nancy Hughes Coe, Anne Hughes Sayle, Anne Hightower Trainer, Jane Hughes Coble, Elizabeth Coe Wade. Also, “Fred Rawlinson Art Show,” through Nov. 1 in Fratelli’s Cafe Gallery. 901636-4100. Memphis College of Art’s Nesin Graduate School, 477 S. Main: Sammy Peters: “Then & Now,” in Hyde Gallery. Closing reception 6-9
in the intuitive creation of an abstract painting — over-and -under-painting, scraping, collaging and scumbling, spattering and dripping, a variety of marks and brushstrokes — and always with fluidity and fluency. This is an artist whose relationship to the painting is emotional, psychological and intimate.
Within this aura of terrific brio, the artist reveals his love of mess and clutter, of brash and disharmonious coloration. He juxtaposes ugly, garish
p.m. Friday. Hours: noon-5 p.m. Monday through Friday; noon-7 p.m. Saturday. 901272-5100. mca.edu Art Museum of the University of Memphis (Communication and Fine Arts Building), 3750 Norriswood: “Flying Colors: Asafo Flags of the Fante,” through Oct. 1. 901-678-2224. memphis.edu/amum Christian Brothers University Plough Library (Beverly & Sam Ross Gallery), 650 East Parkway S.: “Hapax Legomena: Recent Artwork by Cory Dugan” in Through today at the Hyde Gallery, Nesin Graduate Center, 477 S. Main. Reception 6-9 tonight in conjunction with South Main Art Trolley Tour. Call 901-2725111, or visit mca.edu.
hues and challenges us to accommodate his taste for strange inevitability; see, for example, “Unexamined Stereotypes,” from 1987, and its clashing areas of scarlet and red-orange, or this year’s “Universal: fundamental; depiction,” with its contrasting vertical and horizontal stripes and planes of reds, blacks and yellows. The flurry and fury of the artist’s gestures, the wayward splashes and splotches, the thick lines that begin nowhere and dissolve into elsewhere — all are indications of a significant confrontation with the surface of the painting and a record of a restless, curious imagination. The canvas and pigment mark the tracks of their own
Main Gallery and “Seeking Salvation: Photographs by Paul Clarke” in Gallery Foyer. Both through Oct. 12. 901321-3432. Clough-hanson Gallery (Rhodes College), 2000 North Parkway: Dread Scott, Mariam Ghani, Terry Lynn, Damon Davi: “The Weight of Hope,” through Oct. 24. Group exhibition. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. 901-8433442. Café Gallery at Playhouse on the Square, 66 S. Cooper: Jimmy Crosthwait: making.
In the past 20 or so years, at least as indicated in this exhibition, Peters’ work has deepened and become more metaphysical, perhaps tinged by intimations of mortality. Not that pieces from the 21st century are not as enigmatic or hermetic as previous work; this artist has always dealt with the unreadable. A large painting like “Existence: isolation; reason,” from 2005, though, seems to offer a feeling of spareness and deliberation, a sense of discretion that implies hard-won wisdom amid the throes of experience and confidence leavened by humility.
Various forms of media have been filled with stories recently about the sale of MCA’S Nesin building on South Main to developers and its pending remodeling as a boutique hotel.
That transition will not occur immediately, and the college plans a roster of exhibitions there through the end of 2016.
Peters is also showing work at Jay Etkin Gallery, 942 S. Cooper, through Sunday.
“Mazes, Marionettes, Zen Chimes, and More,” artwork. Through Oct. 23. Church Health Gallery, 1115 Union Ave.: Frank Baer: Photography, through Oct. 21. Portion of proceeds from sales benefit Church Health Center. Eclectic Eye, 242 S. Cooper: Maggie Russell: “The Blessing of Good Dreams,” through Nov. 9. 901-276-3937. eclectic-eye.com Memphis Botanic Garden, 750 Cherry Road in Audubon Park: Katie Maish: “Labor,” ends Saturday in Visitors Center Gallery. 901-6364100.