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New exhibit at Reynolda House offers a step back in time

“American” by Robert Bechtle is one of the paintings on display in the “Chrome Dreams and Infinite Reflections” exhibit at Reynolda House Museum of American Art.

New exhibit at Reynolda House offers a step back in time
July 21
13:54 2022

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

Who couldn’t use a little nostalgia right now. Walk into the new exhibit space at Reynolda House and step back into the 1970s where the family station wagon was the favored mode of transportation and a night on the town meant burgers at the local drive-in. That’s the feeling you’ll have when you visit “Chrome Dreams and Infinite Reflections: American Photorealism” at Reynolda House Museum of American Art. All the pieces are reminiscent of the look and feel of America in the 1970s.

But don’t come expecting to see photographs of the era – you may believe that in the beginning, but look closer and you will see that these striking photo-like images are paintings created to mimic photographs. This artistic genre began back in the 1960s by a small group of artists who took the idea of reproducing a photo on canvas with such precision and fine detail that it appears to be an actual photograph. Often, the artist will focus on commonplace objects, such as jewelry, a store window or awning, or a part of an automobile, rather than the entire photograph, making the viewer question whether this should be considered as fine art or a take-off of Andy Warhol’s “soup can” art.

According to Allison Slaby, the exhibitor’s curator, this exhibit has been over two years in the making. The paintings in the exhibit are from local collectors as well as other museums of art, such as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the High in Atlanta, and the Birmingham Museum of Art. The exhibition includes the work of the pioneers of the style: Robert Cottingham, Robert Bechtle, Richard Estes, Jack Mendenhall, Richard McLean, Ralph Goings, Ron Kleeman, Audrey Flack, Don Eddy, Janet Fish, Chuck Close and Ben Schonzeit.

After working two years on the exhibit, Slaby said she is “thrilled it’s here. It was delayed by the pandemic for two years, so I’m happy it’s finally here.”

When asked about her favorite piece in the exhibit, Slaby was quick to point out “American” by Robert Bechtle. “It shows the American tradition of a landscape photo and the family vacation.”  When you view this painting, you feel like you’re watching a mother and two children who have just gotten out of their car to look at the landscape at a scenic overlook. You can even see the detail in the son’s t-shirt with a dirt bike logo, very reflective of the time when family vacations included road trips to state parks.

Slaby was also excited to point out the most recent purchase by Reynolda House, Richard Estes’s “Hubcap.”  Estes is a preeminent 90-year-old artist who painted this piece just last year. This piece is of a shiny new Volkswagen Beetle’s fender that is reflecting a scene of coastal Maine. This is also part of the photorealism exhibit and will become part of the museum’s permanent collection. The acquisition of Hubcap was made possible by a generous contribution from David and Scottie Neill.

Chrome Dreams and Infinite Reflections will be on exhibit until Dec. 31. Tickets are available at www.reynolda.org. Free passes are available at all branches of the Forsyth County Public Library. Passes can be checked out at the circulation desk and returned after your visit.

Reynolda House also hosts Community Day events with free admission to the exhibit and tours of the historic house, along with other activities. The next Community Day is Aug. 25 from 3 to 7 p.m. and a fall event will be held on Oct. 15 from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Reynolda House Museum of Amerian Art is located at 2250 Reynolda Road. For more information, visit www.reynolda.org.

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