The Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University will open its fall season with the first retrospective exhibition of work by Lewis Buck, a lifelong artist and longtime Asheville-area resident with what critics describe as unique artistic vision.
“Lewis Buck: Beyond the Surface – Life Works in Painting and Assemblage” will run from Saturday, Sept. 6, through Monday, Dec. 15, at the museum, in Western’s Fine and Performing Arts Center. The community is invited to a free reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 6 at the museum.
“The exhibit will provide a rare opportunity to share Lewis Buck’s extraordinary career with our growing Western North Carolina audience,” said Martin DeWitt, the museum’s founding director. “The exhibit offers insight into the breadth of Buck’s work, taking a close look at his evolution as an artist and his early inspirations and influences.”
A vibrant color palette, multiple textures and the presence of found objects mark Buck’s often large-scale works of painting, collage and assemblage. He names as his primary inspiration two artists from the early- to mid-20th century, realist Edward Hopper and abstract expressionist Richard Diebenkorn. The retrospective’s pieces, spanning 60 years and comprising 50 works, came from Buck’s own collection and the collections of his family, friends and patrons.
Buck was born in 1924 in Norfolk, Va. He graduated from Duke University with a degree in English and received a master of fine arts degree in printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University. He served in the Navy from 1943 to 1946, and met hiThe artist Lewis Buck, in his Black Mountain studio, is the focus of a retrospective beginning Sept. 6 at the Fine Art Museum. s wife, Porge, a printmaker, in 1950 in a life-drawing class.
In 1984, the Bucks moved from Maine to the historic Asheville neighborhood of Montford, where they ran a printmaking studio and gallery from their home. In the mid-1980s, the Bucks helped spur the revitalization of Asheville’s River Arts District with the purchase and renovation of a former seed store into artist studios. The Bucks have lived in Black Mountain since 1993.
In Maine, the Bucks spent 15 years running an inn, where large dining room walls inspired Buck to new dimensions. “I didn’t want to hang little things all over it, so I started stretching large canvases,” Buck said. Also in Maine, Buck constructed an assemblage piece from children’s alphabet blocks, a kitchen stool and an Adirondack chair on the inn’s porch. “The Adirondack chair had been painted all kinds of colors at various times, and the weather didn’t treat it too nicely. The paint was peeling off, and that was what attracted me to it,” Buck said.
Asheville artist and writer Connie Bostic describes Buck as an individual who pays as much attention to life as art, once writing that, “Following his lead, the viewer of his work is rewarded through deep contemplation.”
Buck, above right in his Black Mountain studio, has exhibited in group and solo shows since the 1940s, most recently at Asheville’s Semi Public: A Space for Contemporary Art in 1999 and the Captain’s Bookshelf in 2002. His work is held in private, public and corporate collections.
The Fine Art Museum is located in Western’s Fine and Performing Arts Center. Fall hours begin Aug. 21 and are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Until then, the museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1-4 p.m. Saturday. The museum is closed during holidays included on WCU’s academic calendar. For more information, contact Martin DeWitt, founding director, at (828) 227-2553.