Family, art sit down together in ‘Chairs’

Chairs communicate feeling, memory and place to the viewer, according to artist Robert Ballard.

R.H. Ballard Gallery will present “Chairs: A Conversation,” an exhibit of paintings and quilts created by artist Robert H. Ballard and his daughter, Alethea Ballard, a quilter and author.

The public is invited to an opening reception from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 23) at the gallery at 307 Main St. Veritas Winery will be pouring their wines and there will be light fare provided.

Robert’s chair paintings have architectural specificity, texture, emotion and place, and Alethea’s art quilts are described as wild and lively, exuberant and full of movement.

This quilt by Alethea Ballard incorporates a gift from her father, Washington gallery owner and artist Robert Ballard.

The exhibit is the result of inspiration sparked by the gift of a painting from a father to his daughter, which became the theme of a series of creative quilt designs that are the subject of two books published by C&T Publishing; a third book is now in process.

A particular French armchair in a Paris rental flat where Robert Ballard and his wife were staying years ago became the subject of a sketch, which later became the subject of a painting, leading to more drawings and paintings of chairs that are now in numerous private art collections.

Chairs have immense purpose and significance in our lives and yet they are something most people take for granted, according to Ballard. His paintings of chairs began by chance, but as he began studying their structure he discovered how they communicated feeling, memory and place. In his paintings, the chair is the solitary subject featured on the canvas — it is the landscape, the portrait and the main event. The viewer comes to each artwork with their own past experiences and the chairs ultimately take on that view.

Robert H. Ballard has directed multimillion dollar art galleries in San Francisco and museums in New Zealand, California and Virginia. He has taught painting in several universities and art schools, managed art councils and is also a trained frame maker. He has also exhibited his work nationally. Alhough he has exhibited with other artists in the Ballard gallery over the past 13 years, this is actually his first exhibit as a featured artist.

Alethea Ballard, one of four Ballard children, has lived in the East Bay Area of California most of her life. She is a teacher and conducts instructional workshops on her quilting style. Her impatience with convention has pushed her toward more spontaneity and joy with her designs, allowing for more unexpected results. She has authored “Dream Chair Quilts, 7 blocks for Whimsical Wall Hangings,” a new applique pattern pack that will be out in December. She is now finishing her second book, “Maverick Quilts, Using Large-Scale Prints, Novelty Fabrics & Panels with Panache,” and is in process of working on a third. She also hopes one day to create her own line of fabric designs.

The “Chairs” exhibit will continue through Nov. 14. The gallery’s hours are 10 to 6 daily. The Ballard gallery Web site is rhballard.com.

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