The Passenger, Oil on board, 25 x 28 inches

Greenhut Galleries in Portland, presents Tall Tales & Short Stories, a solo exhibition of 17 new oil paintings by Nancy Morgan Barnes. Tall Tales & Short Stories can be viewed from November 2-30 with an opening reception held on November 2 from 5-7 and artist’s talk on November 16 at 1:00. 

Barnes is a skilled and delightfully quirky storyteller, leading the viewer through narratives that are rarely what they initially seem. Her work, which is characterized by the explicit rendering or order and chaos, is often humorous, frequently with a dark(ish) twist. But make no mistake — despite the artist’s joyful irreverence and attraction to offbeat subject matter, Nancy Morgan Barnes is an extremely dedicated and extremely accomplished painter.  Portland Press Herald art critic, Daniel Kany has written: “The painting is gorgeous in every way.  Morgan-Barnes paints beautifully and builds up unusually luscious surfaces — painted, scraped, sanded, glazed, and finally varnished.  Her technique, patience and craftsmanship deliver something rarely seen, since the 19th century….”  

A sampling of titles from Nancy’s new body of work — The Reluctant Hunter, Eros Tames the Tiger, and Citgo Station — foreshadow the witty and eccentric storylines the paintings reveal. The artist’s statement appears below:

Book and magazine illustration continues to fascinate and inspire me. I have always found this type of clear and fun storytelling engaging. Since narrative painting is visual and not literal, it allows for a more open and less specific description of an event or an idea. As with most images without an accompanying text, the viewer steps in with their own interpretation. By retelling shared stories of fables and fairy tales, I am hoping I can create an image that suggests that we are the same now as then, though most of the work in this particular exhibition is not the retelling of old stories, but are rather paintings of my own invention. I move between an actual source to photographic references to find the imagery I need. Starting with an idea, the process is fluid and changing until the original concept fades and the painting itself begins to guide me. The process is always surprising and mysterious.  

Nancy Morgan Barnes was born in South Bend, Indiana. She earned an undergraduate degree from St. Mary’s College in 1968, and a graduate degree from Indiana University, Bloomington in 1971. She has taught at DePauw University and the Indiana University, Bloomington. Barnes has won numerous merit awards and prizes, including a Good Idea Grant from the Maine Arts Commission. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Indiana University Art Museum and Indiana State Museum.

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