NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin State University College of Fine Arts and School of Art will present the exhibition "Vision & Substance: The Art of John Cobb," showing Oct. 25 through Jan. 10 in Ledbetter Gallery in The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House in downtown Nacogdoches.
For more than 30 years, Cobb has been working on a series of egg tempera and gold leaf paintings for a chapel series. At present, the majority of the paintings are displayed in a temporary free-standing chapel that viewers can enter. Aside from the chapel series, Cobb also works as a landscape painter, creating beautifully detailed paintings of the Texas landscape. The chapel (still a work in progress), along with a series of landscapes, will be featured in this retrospective exhibition, according to John Handley, director of art galleries for the School of Art.
In the catalog that will accompany the exhibition, Handley wrote that Cobb's vision is "the creation of a chapel filled with glistening egg-tempera and gold leaf paintings, executed in the methods of the old masters, depicting his rendition of modern day saints in Biblical semblance."
"For Cobb, saints are defined in the everyday - the ordinary person on the street, the neighbor, the relative who lives in quietude in an ever steady, abiding faith," Handley said. "They appear like ancient icons with their luminous gold leaf backgrounds, but the faces that gaze back at us are not Byzantine; rather they appear familiar, like somebody we know or have met at one time."
Handley saw Cobb's work for the first time two years ago at Valley House Gallery and Sculpture Garden in Dallas.
"I have spent a great deal of my life looking at art, but I have to say I had never encountered something like this - a 30-year-plus vision to create a chapel, which to this day still has no permanent home or a commitment for one," Handley said. " And yet, Cobb keeps working away, knowing that one day the chapel will have a permanent home and caretaker."
Handley returned two weeks after that initial visit to hear the artist speak. Since then, Handley has visited Cobb in his studio in Austin on several occasions, and he is working with David Lewis, professor of art history at SFA, and Cheryl Vogel of Valley House to produce the first exhibition catalog devoted to his work.
Of Cobb's work, Vogel writes: "The more I see the world interpreted through John Cobb's compassionate eyes, the more I learn to observe the bounty of life."
The exhibition will open with a reception at 6 p.m. Oct. 25. Prior to the reception, Vogel will interview the artist about his work starting at 5 p.m., followed by a question/answer session.
This exhibition, which is part of the 2014-2015 University Series, is supported by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and Valley House Gallery and Sculpture Garden. It is sponsored in part by the SFA Friends of the Visual Arts and the Nacogdoches Junior Forum.
All exhibitions and gallery lectures are free.
For additional information about this exhibition and others presented by the SFA art galleries, visit www.art.sfasu.edu/ or call (936) 468-1131.