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Roanoke Artist Gerry Bannan’s Latest Works of Vivid Forest and River Bank Scenes Invite Curiosity and Wonder 

Included in the exhibition of Gerry Bannan’s work is “Actaeon” (2018), watercolor on Yupo paper, 40 X 60 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

The Moss Arts Center’s newest exhibition will feature Roanoke-based artist Gerry Bannan’s latest work, which has ventured into a new direction, introducing color and a variety of small creatures in magical forest and riverbank scenes.

Featured in the Ruth C. Horton Gallery, the solo exhibition of Bannan’s work, “Peaceable Kingdom,” will open with a reception on May 9 from 5-7 p.m. in the Grand Lobby of the Moss Arts Center, located at 190 Alumni Mall.

A number of years ago Bannan developed an extraordinary series of large-scale still life drawings using black ballpoint pen on expansive sheets of Mylar. Sourcing northern European old master paintings and prints, in particular the 16th-century German master engraver Albrecht Dürer, along with 17th-century Dutch masters, Bannan re-imagined the vanitas still life tradition — with its focus on the fragility of life and mortality — in exceptionally complex and intricate works.

In a departure from his characteristic ballpoint pen still lifes, Bannan has ventured in a new direction, working with watercolor on Yupo paper, a brilliant white Japanese watercolor paper. This exhibition focuses on this new body of work, in which the artist introduces color, as well as birds, plants, and other small creatures in vivid, meticulously rendered forest and riverbank scenes.

“This exhibition has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to introduce my newest paintings while establishing their evolution from my earlier drawings,” said Bannan. “At first glance, my large-scale watercolor landscapes may seem a world away from my earlier, intricately detailed line drawings of elaborate still life tableaux. But, while the scope and focus of the pictures may have changed, the underlying themes of quiet reflection and visual reward remain. My goal as an artist is to be visually generous, drawing the viewer in with curiosity and holding their attention through the discovery of images that elicit associations which will resonate in their minds.”

“The more you look at these works, the more likely you are to be surprised by seeing some small creature or unexpected detail that was formerly not apparent,” said Margo Crutchfield, Moss Arts Center curator-at-large and curator for this exhibition. “The technical brilliance and beauty of Bannan’s paintings and drawings are first and foremost a visual feast. They convey an almost joyous embrace of nature — ‘a peaceable kingdom,’ as he referred to them — in which he seeks to engage the viewer with wonder and curiosity.”

Bannan received a bachelor of fine arts degree in printmaking from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and a master of fine arts degree in painting from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He is a long-term professor of fine arts at Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, Virginia. His work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the state of Virginia, as well as in Atlanta and Philadelphia.

This exhibition will be on view until June 1.

The Moss Arts Center’s galleries are regularly open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. The galleries and all related events are free and open to the public.

The center offers many opportunities for students, faculty, and community members to engage with artists and their work. To arrange a group tour of the galleries, contact Meggin Hicklin, exhibitions program manager for the Moss Arts Center.

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