Chester Arnold- Guest Artist

Chester Arnold was born in Santa Monica , California, in 1952.

From the age of 5, Chester lived and was educated in Munich, Germany, where his father, a linguist and field agent, worked for a United States Intelligence Unit.  During the years up to 1969, Arnold was exposed to a post-war atmosphere that profoundly affected his ideas about humankind and the world- forging a sense of social responsibility that has seldom escaped expression in his paintings. His education was replete with studies in the Humanities, but it was exposure to the great museums of Munich and Vienna that shaped a belief in the power of painting to communicate beyond words- a power that has been pursued ever since.

Upon Graduation from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1988, Arnold began a fruitful teaching career paralleling his studio practice, in classes taught at the San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco State University, Sonoma State University, and for the first two decades of this century as a senior fine Arts faculty member at the College of Marin, Kentfield, California. 

 

Arnold has shown his work extensively from coast to coast, and paintings can be found in many public collections, notably in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The San Jose Museum of Art, the Nevada Museum of Art and The Seven Bridges foundation in Greenwich, Connecticut. These institutional collections, as well as private holdings in North America and the U.K. have been drawn upon to prepare for a 50 year retrospective in February, 2022, at the Fresno Art Museum .

EXTRACTION

Art at the Edge of the Abyss

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"Things Being What They Are",  oil on linen, 72 x 84"

The subject of abundance and waste in Western Civilization has been a troublesome subject for a painter; how does one make a visual commentary on material excesses while adding to that very excess?  

As a more or less average American middle class citizen, my own life swelled with material goods in the early 1990’s , and as a visual thinker, the countless objects of everyday life swirled then, as now , in a recollected maelstrom , demanding a place on the canvases that are my stage. It has been an imperative for me to construct this imagery from memory, whether clear or blurred, allowing the eccentricity inherent in memory’s limits to bear fruit.

The first salvo of this material tradition came in 1996 with the painting “Accumulation” , in which all objects that could be recalled were piled in a composition resembling a dumpsite. Yet everything in the pile was whole and good. 

The implications of our overproduction, and the smothering nature of materialism are given a forum for contemplation- even appreciation, as the paradox of our simultaneous  success and failure stares us in the face.

Since that first confessional effort, variations have appeared on a more or less regular basis, as new material enters our lives, and compositions form , seemingly of their own volition,

into new paintings. 

“Things Being What They Are” is a major collection of goods that seem to explode out toward the viewer- the energy of human invention manifest in the variety of color and form of the objects in our lives. This painting, as all of its antecedents, is at its core a love letter to materiality - why else would someone paint so lovingly so many things? It is a not-so-still-life.

 

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“A Game Of Bones”  

2010 oil on linen, 36” x 42”

 

This painting takes my fascination with recollected objects to an extended fictional narrative: equipment that was left to me by a great Uncle, one who joined a failed gold-mining adventure in the Mojave Desert in the 1920’s . These objects combined with memories of  rambling accounts: old tools and stories were his legacy, and the vision of a miner’s demise- of unknown origin - were juggled into a strangely buoyant crime scene. 

Gallery Sales to be shared with Catherine Clark Gallery