February 8, 2013
High school counselor from Denver is featured artist at NJC gallery show
This painting by Paul Oser entitled 14th and Grant uses light, shadow and strong color for a film noir feel of the city of Denver both pretty and gritty. (Courtesy Photo)
Closing reception will be held February 21
By Barbara Baker
NJC Marketing Director
If you are on the campus of Northeastern Junior College between now and February 21st, you’ll want to enjoy the artwork of Paul Oser, on display now in the Peter L. Youngers Fine Art Gallery located inside the E.S. French Hall. “The Art of a Journey” gallery show may be seen weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This display will also be showcased on the evening of February 12th during the reception following the Brigham Young University dance troupe show. The reception is being hosted by the Bank of Colorado.
Oser, who lives in northern Denver, is currently a school counselor at Pomona High School. Three years ago, he accompanied a group of juniors from Arvada High School to do a college visit here. Terry Ruch, a metro area admissions/alumni coordinator for the college, who was leading the group’s tour, realized through conversation that Oser was an accomplished artist and suggested he connect with the gallery curator and schedule to have a showing here in Northeastern Colorado.
Imagine astronomy, biology, and art rippling from the same geometric pools of circles, squares and triangles, from solid and fluid states and you have Oser at his best. “As I wrap shapes around my own worlds, order comes from chaos in finite terms in present tense,” Oser writes about his exhibit. He calls it an “unveiling of a debut retrospective of thirty years of such progressions.”
According to Oser, the 20 paintings in this show are such stones left from pathways he’s explored since his senior year in high school 30 years ago. “They represent a journey that helped me rise above the looseness of doodled hills, rigidity of drafted structures, and the splashing about in many pigmented pools,” he says. “On the whole, I search to fuse the duality of a world both geometric and organic.”
Oser says his paintings require building or breaking visual ideas until something of substance forms. He observes basic elements of shape, color, and proportion and then using exaggerate lighting effects, he applies mosaic, cubist, curvaceous, angular, or tubular shapes. He likes to explore undulating patterns of cool and warm colors as he tries to represent natural rhythms of day and night, parts and whole, land and sky.
“I paint from nature, photos, self-created clay models, and doodles,” Oser says. “Often I quickly work out on paper a feeling or idea I want to convey and then go back and forth between the bigger picture and the smaller matter to resolve a piece of art. Sometimes I tinker. Sometimes I don’t. I admire the work of Wassily Kadinsky, Chuck Close, Paul Cezanne, and Edward Hopper.”
This featured artist does indicate that as of late, he is loosening up. “The spontaneous overflow from a paint-laden palette knife or lightly held brush unearths emotional reservoirs,” he said. “Having primal, nonverbal, instinctual, painterly experiences opens me up to my hunches, passions, patterns and themes. So when I paint my colors come straight from the tube, my contours from unfettered angles and curves.” Oser indicates that prior to a Denver series after the 9-11 tragedy, his work was more tightly controlled. His later work reveals that he has relaxed, He’s left canvases unfinished, draft marks visible, and paint less evenly applied and says that this lack of perfection has its own reward.
Two paintings in the show are of special interest. The painting 14th and Grant uses light, shadow and strong color for a film noir feel of the city of Denver both pretty and gritty. “I was teaching in an inner city school in 2001 when a student told me that the Twin Towers fell,” explains Oser. “I had just visited New York City one month prior and had been living on the 10th floor of a condo downtown. A series of paintings emerged from those experiences celebrating life as a dweller downtown.” He said that Edward Hopper, some Cubists, and many others use bold and primary colors and structures and he likes this kind of art. The painting Dog Squared , according to Oser, “depicts my seven year-old best friend, Spencer. He is an Old English Sheepdog and he brightens my life with constant hopes for snacks and walks. The use of pigment both white and bright, with Chuck Close elements, and undertreated canvas deconstructs yet one more staring contest with me. The geometric over lay on natural objects intrigues me to look towards new worlds merging.”
Oser originally hails from Cincinnati, Ohio and studied pre-med at Xavier University before completing a bachelor’s of art in Literature and Humanities from Metropolitan State College of Denver. He holds an master’s degree in school counseling from the University of Phoenix. This year marks his 20th year as an educator in American high schools. He has taught English Literature in Belize, ESL Earth Science, theology, art, and Spanish in Colorado. He has enjoyed travels in the states, Europe and lots of places south of the border. To stay open-minded, he tries to learn more than his memory can handle, write a poem a year, paint a lot, and laugh and sweat daily. To Oser, art is like spirituality. It is both a personal journey and a collective leap of faith.
“I was a senior in high school when a physics teacher told our class that the human body measures up to be the midpoint between largest stellar distance and the smallest subatomic particle,” he recalls. “This led to thinking about my own brief walk on a spinning planet midst many spinning spheres which are somehow unified in an infinitely grand web. That’s both cool and humbling. Do I pluck the strands of it? Or leave no trace behind? Do I matter to timeless space? Or do the stones I overturn somehow ripple elsewhere?”
Oser is without doubt, an interesting artist and character. A closing reception for the show, which Oser will be attending, will take place on Thursday, February 21st from 4 to 5 p.m. at the gallery. The reception and refreshments are free to the public. For any questions or more information regarding this exhibit please contact NJC Gallery Director, Emily Vines, at 970-521-6710 or via email at Emily.Vines@njc.edu.