Comfort Zones

Comfort ZonesAugust 28-December 15, 2018

Urban and rural locales are typically viewed as distinct worlds, mutually exclusive of one another. Taking a deeper look into the fabric of these locations there is much to be found that connects these disparate places. The poetics of everyday life, beauty of the surroundings, conventional and idiosyncratic dynamics, and historical roots, are but a few of the aspects that unite these comfort zones. These are also the fundamental elements explored in paintings by Chicago-based artist Mary Phelan and South-Central Virginia artist Eldridge Bagley. Seeing their work together is ultimately a glimpse into personal definitions of a sense of place.

Phelan depicts the density of urban environments, with taller buildings, crowded streets, and bustling city life. She finds peace within the stillness of the paintings, capturing the energy of the city and urban environment in which she lives. Her precisionist style conveys a photographic snapshot of an instant. In contrast, Bagley presents open vistas that allow the viewer to enter the farms and the natural topography of the rural countryside. He presents the tranquil rural life known all his life, focusing on family and community that inhabit the depicted spaces. His loose application of pigment conjures distant memories and personal experiences.

Pairing these artists may hit home for Oxford and Cincinnati residents who are accustomed to seeing differences between the rural countryside and the bustling city. An overarching question developed out of a study of painting by Phelan and Bagley: Are rural and urban really mutually exclusive once you look beyond the surface? Investigating works by these two different artists provides a unique look into commonalities that we often overlook in two seemingly different places. In addition, when expansion encroaches on one another these two locations become more than geographically connected.

10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Saturday Noon-5 p.m.

Related Programming

NOTE: Gallery hours are extended during any program held after 5 p.m.

Artist Panel

A Dialogue with The Artists: Comfort Zones: The Crossroads of Urban & Rural

Thursday, November 1, 5:50-7:05 p.m.

Artists, Eldridge Bagley and Mary Phelan Moderator, Dana Saulnier, Professor of Art

This conversational presentation will explore works by Chicago-based artist Mary Phelan and self-taught artist Eldridge Bagley, presenting two seemingly disparate environments. On the surface, the geographic locations of the urban fabric and the rural landscape appear to have little in common. But on a deeper level, we begin to see connections that show how a sense of place can exist in parallel. Dana Saulnier, Professor of Painting at Miami, will moderate the dialogue with artists.

Co-sponsored with Contemporary Art Forum.

Exhibition Lecture

Understanding the Urban-Rural Divide

Wednesday, November 14, 5:30 p.m.

Stephen Conn, Professor of History

Since the election of 2016 the urban-rural divide has received a great deal of media attention.
In fact, that divide has been a central part of American society for a long time. This talk will explore where it came from, what defines it and what it all means today.


All Programs are FREE & OPEN TO ALL and held at the Art Museum (unless noted otherwise).