AUTEN?+ ARMSTRONG to open at Blanden

The works of two artists with Fort Dodge ties will be featured at the Blanden Memorial Art Museum, with the AUTEN + ARMSTONG exhibition opening with a reception and talk by artists Gerald Auten and Martha Armstrong Saturday.

Auten, a Fort Dodge native, teaches at Dartmouth College in Vermont.

He graduated from Fort Dodge Senior High, received a degree from University of Iowa in studio art, a master’s degree in painting from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Wisconsin.

Auten has said of his work: “It is difficult to articulate what generates my work. Looking back now at 55 years old, I can’t remember when my obsession with touching and making things, marking and recording my reaction to the world began (if it ever did begin). It has been my constant center of gravity, and the only thing that I truly and deeply know. I think that at the core of my work, there lies a preoccupation with materiality, scale, light, proportion, order, and the phenomenal and literal meanings of things. Of course one can never be sure. George Tooker once said: ‘Painting is an attempt to come to terms with life. There are as many solutions as there are human beings.’ Amen to that.”

Armstrong, who spent childhood summers during the 1950s in Fort Dodge, paints large-scale modernist views of the New England landscape.

Graduating from Smith College, she received her master’s degree in painting from Rhode Island School of Design.

Armstrong has said she believes “a painting should have a sequential feel to it, something that could happen over time. It can be the exploration of an idea, or something you imagine, but it is an exploration. You can hear the mind working in a painting by Matisse. You can feel the drive in Picasso – the unstoppable expression. It has a heartbeat, it has a rhythm, it has a pulse, it is alive. A wall painting from Knossos has that. It’s not different over the centuries.”

“Two successful professional artists, intimately familiar with Fort Dodge during their childhoods, are shown in tandem at the Blanden Art Museum.” said Margaret Skove, Blanden director. “This exhibit is contemporary, innovative and ignites rethinking. It is an opportunity to for viewers to reexamine entrenchments in what each of us believes is the ‘rightness’ of our opinions of the world. The exhibition has that quality, which is uncommon, to visually connect with viewers of all ages and all personal art preferences and then to generate discussion. Gerald and Martha are artists, who have vastly different styles and interests, both individuals are highly successful in visually articulation of reality and beauty, of what is artificial and what is natural.”

AUTEN + ARMSTRONG will remain on exhibit until Sept. 13. Admission to the Blanden is always free. Museum hours are 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.