Art that focuses on human figure featured at First Friday event

05:00 AM, Sep 01, 2013

"Blaze" by Richard Harvey. (Provided photo)/

Written By Sandra Parker

First Friday

The monthly gallery hop, mostly in the city’s East End and Neighborhood of the Arts, includes the New York Figure Study Guild’s annual show. Start planning at Here are some other shows that are part of the event:
For Potentials of Us (U.S.). Photography by Rick Baker at Bethel Christian Fellowship’s Aviv Cafe, 321 East Ave.
Marilyn Nosky. Paintings at Main Street Artists Gallery and Studio in the Hungerford Building, Studio 458, Door 2, 1115 E. Main St.
Douglas Coffey. Paintings on metaphors for change and transition at The Arts and Cultural Council, 277 N. Goodman St.
Rochester Delights. Photographs, including panoramas, by Sheridan Vincent at Image City Photography Gallery, 722 University Ave.
Nathan Lyons. His latest works at ArtisanWorks, 565 Blossom Road. (ArtisanWorks has an entrance fee of $12; $8 for students and seniors.)

If there’s one thing that has always fascinated artists, it’s the human body.

Whether it’s an ice-age artist carving a figure from a woolly mammoth tusk 40,000 years ago or Picasso painting a triangular head on a square torso, the body still reigns as king.

So says local artist Steve Carpenter, whose ethereal creations of “dancing energy” look like colorful paintings of the cosmos. Nevertheless, he says, his work is “an abstraction of the human form.”

To promote this fundamental tenet of art, Carpenter teamed with muralist Rick Muto to start the New York Figure Study Guild, a Rochester arts group devoted solely to depicting the human form.

Artists have a tendency to isolate themselves, but if you have companionship and can talk about your work, you create enthusiasm,” says Carpenter, owner of the Steve Carpenter Gallery & Art Center, 176 Anderson Ave. in the Neighborhood of the Arts.

Now in its sixth year, the guild’s master workshops draw internationally known artists such as watercolorist Charles Reid and oil painter Mau-kun Yim to Rochester. The 70-member collaborative is open to artists of every skill level using any medium, and meets monthly for discussion, study and instruction.

This year’s exhibition of the guild’s work runs from Friday through Sept. 14 in Carpenter’s gallery, with an opening from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday as part of the First Friday gallery hop. Each of the pieces depict the human form in some way, whether realist or abstract, and using any medium from clay to paint to digital photography.

The human figure is the highest level of artistic representation; to capture the soul of a human is very important and very difficult,” says oil painter Enrique Viturro, guild vice president and art show chair.

The guild offers opportunities for members to practice figurative drawing skills in the classical tradition — the art of the nude.

Drawing the human form is a very spiritual act,” says Carpenter, himself an internationally known artist. “We have to learn to interpret what we see.”

As a mentor, he helps artists capture not only the physicality but the model’s personality or mood, which Da Vinci called “motions of the mind.”

Because, as guild president Patricia DeLuca puts it, “It’s not just a picture of someone lying on a couch.”

The public can watch this creative process during a free demonstration from 3 to 6 p.m. next Sunday, when four artists will create their own versions of a live (clothed) model. The show’s flier features samples of the variety of members’ works — an oil print of a young girl in impressionist style, a multi-media print of a woman with bright orange hair, and a realistic oil portrait of a woman with a flirty smile.

The guild “fills an important niche in the visual art landscape” in the city’s arts community, says Sarah Lentini, president and CEO of the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester.

For artist and founding member Debra Van Wert, the group helps her explore her own expression of the human form.

It is truly an oasis of inspiration for me,” she says.