Southside Gallery will feature paintings by Martin Arnold and watercolors by Laurin McCracken during the month of September. The artists’ work will be on display September 4th – September 30th. An artists’ reception is scheduled for Thursday, September 7th, 5 – 8 PM.
Martin Arnold took a nontraditional path to becoming an artist. Born and raised in Michigan, Arnold spent thirty-seven years in the auto industry as an automation machinery designer. He moved to Mississippi in 2006 and enrolled at the Mississippi University of Women in Columbus, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts. After receiving his degree, Arnold moved to Oxford and enrolled in the University of Mississippi’s Graduate Program, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting in 2012. Arnold and his wife Cherrie currently live in Florence, Alabama. Arnold is a studio arts instructor at the University of North Alabama.
Arnold is primarily a figure painter. He lists some of his influences as Philip R. Jackson (his painting professor at the University of Mississippi), Glennray Tutor, William Beckwith, Jeremy Mann, John Singer Sargent and Thomas Eakins. These influences are apparent in his work, as Arnold’s paintings are meticulously crafted works of realism. The flesh of the models, their clothing and the props in his paintings appear tangible. The paintings have a theatrical presence as well. Often Arnold’s models engage the viewer with piercing glances. Arnold wrote the following about what inspires his paintings: “This body of figural work spans a period of several years. As each painting explores the utter uniqueness of my subject, each simultaneously imparts to viewers a sense of genuine commonality. These paintings celebrate our basic humanity and voice a plea for tolerance and civility.”
Laurin McCracken spent his childhood in Meridian, Mississippi. After graduating high school, he attended Auburn University before transferring to Rice University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Architecture degrees. McCracken later earned a Masters of Architecture and Urban Planning degree from Princeton University and also studied at The Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been exhibited internationally, featured in numerous publications and is widely sought after by collectors. He is a signature member of more than a dozen watercolor societies and is currently the President of the Watercolor USA Honor Society. Recently, McCracken had a painting accepted into the Beijing Biennale 2017. This is the fourth time he has been accepted into the exhibition. He is the only American watercolorist to have been accepted in the past four Biennales.
McCracken’s watercolors are inspired by Dutch and Flemish still life paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries. McCracken honed his skills as a watercolorist over the course of his career as an architect. His superb draftsmanship and attention to detail are evident in his still lifes of subjects varying from fine silver and linen, to wind up toys and even architectural tools. On occasion, McCracken has also painted landscapes and figurative works as well. McCracken plans to exhibit paintings that fall under three different categories, which he describes as “classic Dutch influenced still life paintings”, “objects from your grandmother’s pantry that are familiar to everyone but painted in the Dutch style” and “toys and other items of nostalgia painted in the Dutch influenced style.”