Earl Staley is not only a prolific artist, he is also a most inventive one, either re-inventing himself or tackling new approaches in his art, exhibition by exhibition.
His recent showing at Jung Center, "Reconstructions," combined traditional portrayals of Greco-Roman legends with abstract over-painting to create a wondrous method for showing the evolution of art, and himself, over a 30-year span.
Staley's new exhibition at Zoya Tommy Contemporary, titled "The Resolution of Doubt", is totally different, and includes a number of approaches within the same showing. His Wonderer suggests perhaps the chaos present as the physical world was formed, a vertical sliver of red controls the center, against a background of irregular blues and dark reds, while a pale green grape-shaped blob seems to have formed into something more definite. It is mysterious, and intriguing.
Resolution of Doubt, which gave the exhibition its title, has a dominant black mass at the left, perhaps a celestial orb, with a magenta comet with a pale green core hurtling toward it. A collision seems unavoidable, adding a sense of awesome expectancy.
Mystery is the most specific of the paintings, which are acrylic and collage on canvas, and seems the most cerebral, rather than emotional. Its lower section represents the ground, yellow dots on green earth, with a mottled green-gray sky overhead. Floating in the sky is a fragment of something, a figure that is irregular on the right edge, as though the fragment had been torn from a larger square. The fragment is divided into two sections, vertical, with color variations, but both are varieties of red. There is a deliberateness here that is powerful, making us wonder - this, of course, is the artist's very successful intention.
Sienna has what may be a red balloon, with gold at the top, and a heart below that may be breaking - or I may be reading too much into that element. It is interesting, though inscrutable. I found Blue Spots amusing - though definitely blue collar - blue blobs on a muddy yellow background and blue blobs on a black background.
Posted is the most determinedly cheerful, with a vertical blue figure shaped like a sled, airy and rich in pastel colors. Kite is a light-hearted painting, one side of a box kite which is trailing a red plume, which may be smoke, or blood.
Release has a central vertical sliver of orange and beige stripes, against a blue background, perhaps a sea. I had the feeling the sliver may have been tossed overboard from a circular floating object. The meaning of the sliver escaped me, but it was a strangely compelling image.
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Naples is the most complex painting, with the most energy, an onrushing force to the left, a purple center, perhaps the engine of destruction - or of creation? Left behind at the right is a settled skyscape of orange and purple against a black and grey background. Staley uses his own experiences in shaping his paintings; he lived in Rome for four years, and, judging by this painting, may have had some powerful experiences in visiting Naples.
The same may be true of Roman Night, with strong colors, and multi-colored circles, many of them, against a black background. The painting has energy and drive, as apparently, does Staley himself.
Staley is an artist and teacher with more than 50 years of experience. He was formerly chairperson of the Art Department at the University of St. Thomas, and today is in charge of the Fine Art Program at Lonestar College-Tomball.
The Resolution of Doubt continues through November 15,at Zoya Tommy Contemporary, 4411 Montrose, open Tuesdays to Saturdays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., 713-523-7424, zoyatommy.com.