‘Mysteries’ Features Work By David Geiser and Lucy Villeneuve

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David Geiser "Echo Cenote," 2016. Mixed media on wood panel, 54 x 48 x 1.5 in. Courtesy Keyes Art Gallery.
On Saturday, May 8, Keyes Art Gallery in Sag Harbor opens “Mysteries,” an exhibition featuring the art of the late David Geiser and Lucy Villeneuve, with a reception from 4 to 8 p.m. The show remains on view until June 10.Geiser (1947-2020 ) was an Abstract Expressionist painter whose works are tactile and deep, often being composed of many layers of shellac, pitch, tar, rope and scrap wood. His body of work also includes abstract mixed-media pieces created on irregular shapes of parchment, a series he returned to over a period of 20 years, with lavish, layered oil paintings featuring organic forms on board.

Born in Rochester, Geiser studied at the University of Vermont and the Art Students League. In 1969, he made a decision to move to San Francisco, detouring his acceptance at Yale. Once there, he immersed himself in the underground comic scene, illustrating with a group of like-minded underground comic creators.

In 1976, he moved to Paris to study classical painting at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He returned to the U.S. in 1980, settling in New York’s Soho, where he moved into Abstract Expressionism. In 2000, Geiser moved to East Hampton with his longtime partner, actress Mercedes Ruehl, and their son, Jake. A son from a previous marriage, Cameron Geiser, lives in Montara, California.

“In the rustic cabin in the Catskills he owned while living in New York, he loved to fish for trout in nearby streams,” writes Mercedes Ruehl. “Critic Robert Morgan noted that he ‘loved the fresh water scent, the isolation, the concentration, and the necessity to remain alert.’ From the streams and forests, the ‘color, tones, of glazes, subtle pours and drips’ of his work emerged.

David Geiser “Shadow Cenote.” Mixed media on board, 120 x 100 in. Courtesy Keyes Art Gallery.

“When he moved on to ocean shores, harbors and bays in Springs, he was moved anew by the bulge and nuzzle of the sea, ‘the world of eternal struggle to some wondrous outward manifestation,’” Ruehl continues. “His daily ritual took him to Main Beach in East Hampton at dawn and Maidstone Beach at sunset, where he exalted in the inexhaustible glory.

“His sons Cameron, Jake, and I knew this ancient man inside the modern one, and dearly miss him. He was, as Shakespeare said, ‘a man, take him for all in all. We shall not look upon his like again.’”

Geiser was 73 and lived a very interesting life, traveling the world, as a prolific painter and illustrator.

Lucy Villeneuve’s curatorial debut was a one-night exhibition that began before setting foot inside Pace Gallery’s space at 508 West 25th Street. Stationed beneath an overpass that shields the gallery, and just above its doors, was a machine that surrounded the entrance with bubbles, a joyful gesture that Villeneuve dedicated to her effervescent mother, Lisa de Kooning.

Lucy Villeneuve “Untitled Puzzle,” acrylic on canvas, 72 x 96 in. Courtesy Keyes Art Gallery.

Villeneuve has maintained the summer artist residency program her mother established at her grandfather’s studio in East Hampton, and with this exhibition expressed her commitment to the support of emerging artists. Since 2016, she has focused her attention on painting, and recently earned her bachelor’s in psychology at the New School for Liberal Arts in New York City.

This is her first major show at Keyes Gallery.

“I grew up painting. But I began more seriously after taking a college course about Buddhism and the arts, where I started creating my large-scale works,” Villeneuve said in a statement. “I’ve taken just a few painting classes, so I find myself quite liberated by my lack of training, yet I am excited to see how my further studies in fine art will affect my work.

“I work with the elements of Daoism, and specifically the Wu Wei, the art of non-doing, and try to focus on the experience of painting rather than the work itself,” she added. “Each shape feels intentional yet just out of my grasp, a slippery in-betweenness, a giggle short of being too far or not enough.

Lucy Villeneuve “Lyre,” 2020. Acrylic on canvas, 34 x 28 in. Courtesy Keyes Art Gallery.

“Lastly, I am always inspired by my mother, a rare jewel with a mastery in the joy of curiosity. Thus, most of my pieces are done half-naked, dancing, with no paint shortage on all surfaces despite what my landlord asks of me.”

Keyes Art Gallery is at 45 Main Street at The American Hotel in Sag Harbor. For more information, visit juliekeyesart.com or call 631-808-3588.

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