Steve Griffin’s light east coast drawl, courtesy of his Colonial Beach, Virginia roots, is deceptive of his Midwest connection.
Hailing from Wisconsin originally, Griffin has found himself in varying regions of the U.S. during his years as a student and professor. He participated in the Whitney Museum’s first independent study program in 1968 and taught at University of Mary Washington for over 25 years.
In his second solo show at ecce gallery, Griffin presents his most recent progression in his strata series. The color-focused, striated acrylic paintings have been the focus of the former professor for the last eight years.
Prior to his exploration of linear focused stripe paintings, Griffin concentrated primarily on photorealism. Influenced by nearly three decades of teaching, he noted how small universities and departments require professors to specialize in a variety of styles and media.
Although Griffin’s focus is painting, most of his time spent teaching fixated on photography and printmaking. The layering techniques applied through printmaking play a huge influence in the texturing and application of paint in the strata collection.
“I like (processes) where you can’t predict what will happen. When I was a realist painter, I knew how it would turn out. … I didn’t like that kind of process; my ideas were going too fast for that. I loosened up after that,” Griffin said.
The strata series could presumably exist as an abstract approach to landscape, which Griffin noted may be a subconscious response, but ultimately the pieces are an experimentation with color usage and application.
If not properly executed, acrylic can present itself with a lack of depth or flatness. Griffin’s paintings are void of those issues and take on a textile-type nature.
“Because of the layers of colors, it looks a little richer and deeper than it normally would,” said Griffin, “I don’t have a plan when I start, I have a color scheme in mind, but things change a lot as things go on.”
The color choices are the integral part of the strata series. But Griffin was clear: his color usages are intuitive decisions, rather than theory-based.
“I took a color theory class in college, and it didn’t make any sense to me. You can study color and break it down and sort of lose the spontaneity,” he said.
After eight years of stripe paintings, Griffin is unsure what direction his work will take moving forward. He has experimented with new shapes and media, but is still excited by the possibilities provided by the striations.
Griffin concluded, “There’s something about the stripes, I’m not done with them yet.”
What: Steve Griffin opening reception
Where: ecce gallery, 216 Broadway N.
When: 6-8 p.m. Thursday
Price: free and open to the public
More info: eccegallery.com