Under Pressure: Painting with Air
A Survey of Contemporary Airbrush Realism
Huth, Boeing & Salmon Galleries
October 24, 2021 – January 16, 2022
Don Eddy, Metal City, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 37 x 36 in. Photo courtesy of Nancy Hoffman Gallery, New York, NY
Lecture and Reception with Don Eddy
Thursday, October 28 | 6 – 8 p.m.
Alan Pastrana, Enlightenment of The Holy Spirit, 2021, airbrush on aluminum, 42 x 54 in.
Most people are familiar with airbrushing as a method used by commercial artists to decorate a broad range of material culture such as t-shirts, sporting equipment, cakes, body art, makeup, tattoos, and vehicles ranging from boats to pickup trucks, semis, cars, and motorcycles. In the 1950s and ’60s, airbrush became a go-to medium for the so-called Kustom Kulture, a neologism that refers to styles and fashions associated with custom cars and motorcycles in the United States, particularly the hot rod scene of Sothern California. As would be expected, many commercially successful airbrush artists possess incredible skill, but many lack true artistry, which may be the reason why the medium has often been unfairly maligned or ignored by the fine art world over the years.
Though a hip medium in the world of commercial art today, airbrush is actually a 19th-century invention. Francis Stanley (who with his twin brother became famous for the Stanley Steamer) patented a simple atomizer airbrush to colorize photographs in 1876. Some fifteen years later, Charles Burdick revolutionized the airbrush with his patented double action, internal-mix airbrush similar to those used today It contained paint somewhat like a fountain pen and featured an index finger trigger with the air supply re-positioned through the bottom, which improved balance and control. Burdick’s invention was promoted by Thayer and Chandler, a Chicago mail-order arts and crafts retailer, which also showcased it at the 1892 World Columbian Exposition. As other improvements ensued, the medium took off. Pioneers of airbrushing include Surrealist Man Ray and graphic illustrator Alberto Vargas. Later, Pop artist James Rosenquist used it to evoke the qualities of advertising in his work. Today, works by artists who use airbrush embody a diverse range of style, subject matter, and technique.
Under Pressure is comprised of 45 works, wide-ranging in theme. It is a survey exhibition of contemporary realism by 15 exceptional airbrush artists from around the U.S. and beyond, including photorealists Don Eddy, Kirk Lybecker, and Hisaya Taira; still-life painter Cesar Santander; abstract illusionist George Green; Dru Blair; Silvia Belviso; David Evanoff; Joshua Zarambo; Jerry Ott; Bruce Evans; Alan Pastrana.
Don Eddy (born 1944) is a contemporary representational painter. He gained recognition in American art around 1970 amid a group of artists that critics and dealers identified as Photorealists or Hyperrealists, based on their work’s high degree of verisimilitude and use of photography as a resource material. Eddy has worked in cycles, which treat various imagery from different formal and conceptual viewpoints, moving from detailed, formal images of automobile sections and storefront window displays in the 1970s to perceptually challenging mash-ups of still lifes and figurative/landscapes scenes in the 1980s to mysterious multi-panel paintings in his latter career.
Art Demonstration with Nathan Payne
Thursday, November 18 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. | Thursday, January 6 from 5 – 6 p.m. Members: Free | Non-Members: Included with $5 After 5 admission
In conjunction with the Under Pressure: A Survey of Contemporary Airbrush Realism exhibition, HuntsvilleartistNathan Payne will give an airbrush demonstration on Thursday, November 18 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. during $5 After 5. Viewing the demonstration is free for Museum members or included with $5 After 5 admission for Non-Members.
“From a small town in Tennessee, I’ve been drawing caricatures around the Tennessee and North Alabama area since 2007. Mostly self-taught with some schooling and an Associate Degree in Art, I enjoy sci-fi, fantasy, comic and cartoon genres. I am a digital illustrator specializing in concept art specifically, landscape and environment building. I’m create vibrant works of art using spray paint and airbrush on all kinds of surfaces. Professionally, I’ve been drawing caricatures-on-the-fly as a street artist, as well as drawing pencil portraits, and various other commissioned pieces for over 10 years. I work in a variety of media. I consider my work to be versatile, adaptive, and fast paced.” – Nathan Payne