An upcoming solo exhibit at Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI includes a multimedia chronicle of the making of the “jaw-dropping” monumental painting going on display at Clowes Memorial Hall.
The Herron show, “The Moment of Conception?” features the work of Herron alumnus and Clowes artist-in-residence Phil O’Malley and runs Aug. 29 to Sept. 19 in the Marsh Gallery of Herron School of Art and Design, 735 W. New York St., on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.
The Herron show is a companion exhibit to O’Malley’s “Finding Your Way: From Wander to Wonder,”the 40-foot-tall by 20-foot-wide wall art that will hang in the front lobby of Clowes Memorial Hall, on the Butler University campus. The painting is available for public viewing during regular business hours for two years, beginning today.
“‘Finding Your Way: From Wander to Wonder,’ is the apex to my series of paintings known as ‘Deep Down,'” O’Malley said. “This series consists of paintings that are individual abstract visual representations of that amazing personal journey one experiences by going deep down inside to find the strength or the courage that it takes to accomplish something, get through something, or grow beyond something.
“Going deep down into all that muck, chaos and confusion can be an intimidating endeavor, but when we do, that journey can be beautifully awakening to yield incredible growth,” O’Malley said of personal experiences captured in “Finding Your Way” and other “Deep Down” pieces.
O’Malley earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Herron. He also studied interior design in the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI.
His “Deep Down” series was spurred by selections of popular music from his formative years, translated via paint into vivid visual representations, the artist said.
Three videos chronicling the making of the Clowes painting will play continuously as part of the Herron show. The Clowes wall project is also being documented by local PBS station WFYI.
The Herron show also includes a sculpture, timeline sketches and drawings of parts of the painting. Herron alumni artists C. J. Martin, Naylor Musko and Steve Smolinski assisted with professional art production for the exhibit co-curated by O’Malley and Martin.
O’Malley created “Finding Your Way: From Wander to Wonder” on the stage at Clowes Hall with the support of the Clowes staff. Martin and Musko also were assistants on the Clowes project.
“We used 800 square feet of canvas, 20 gallons of acrylic primer and one dozen gallons of oil paints,” O’Malley said.
“The process included poured paint, sprayed paint, squirted paint, drawn paint, mopped paint and even some brushed paint. At times the canvas was tied on a batten and flown in (onto the stage) and flown back out (off stage) to assist with the application and flow of the paint.”
The result is “jaw dropping” both in terms of the sheer scale of the canvas and O’Malley’s “inventiveness to start with small sketches and synthesize and scale up and adapt to the viewer’s experience of the work from different angles and levels,” said Glennda McGann, Herron’s assistant dean of development and external affairs.
“This is a prime example of an artist’s ability to problem solve,” McGann said. “He even had to collaborate with crew members and invent a way to hang this huge painting.”
O’Malley estimates he has spent about 500 hours making both the Clowes piece and the art for the Herron exhibit.