Richard William Blanchard

Aucocisco Gallery
89 Exchange Street
Portland Maine
04101

2015 - Group show

Harlow Gallery
160 Water Street
Hallowell, Maine
04347

2015 - Tandem show
Perspicere

Flat Iron Gallery
594 Congress Street
Portland, Maine

21 June through 14 July 2014

As Above, So Below

"When I recall memories, dreams and inspirational ideas, I thinks of them as fragmented pictures like stills of thin film with each one layering over the other. And as I develop a thought these layers interact with each other. In my paintings I like to show the depth of interaction between these layers by uncovering them as I scrape and wear away paint to reveal the initial layers on the canvas. The distressed and corrosive qualities express the ephemeral nature of theses ideas and memories and how they can coexist on canvas the way they do in the mind.

In As Above, So Below, these paintings explore parallel universes. Each pulling, keeping us in a balance of Simultaneous Gravities. The electromagnetic field around every living thing from microbes to galaxies is the torus. The opened centered oval. I consequently positioned the sleeping deer coiled in on itself in a mode of solitude in regeneration."

Flat Iron Gallery
Flat Iron Gallery
Flat Iron Gallery Flat Iron Gallery Flat Iron Gallery Flat Iron Gallery Flat Iron Gallery

Interview by Mark Chimsky (markchimskyeditorial.com)

Richard William Blanchard is a creative artist with vision and talent whose new exhibition, "As Above, So Below", is running through July 14th at the Flat Iron Gallery at 594 Congress Street in Portland.  His works engage the eye and the mind, evoking dreamlike depictions of deer and planets and Maine reimagined with a nod to the floating villages in Marc Chagall's paintings.  "I Love Portland" caught up with the artist to ask him about his artwork, what visitors to the exhibition are saying about it, and how living in Maine inspires him.

How does living in Maine influence your art?
The rawness of the textural landscapes of Maine is constantly an inspiration. The unmanicured ground, the pine trees and the constant change of the weather stirs an internal mood. In an abstract way, I am consumed by that presence and I want to convey that in my work.

The title for your exhibition, "As Above, So Below", is intriguing. Can you explain its meaning?
"As Above, So Below" refers to an all-pervasive design element that is found throughout nature. From the nautilus shell to the spiraling arms of the Milky Way galaxy. I came up with the concept of "simultaneous gravities" to explore this theme. In my own way, as with Cubism, I can show the viewer multiple perspectives with various gravitational pulls. Trees and houses are simultaneously shown upside down, right side up and sideways to signify dreams, thoughts, and ideas -- and to suggest a story of the past, present, and future. The distressed and rusted  painted effects acknowledge something is dying while something is growing. I am interested in pointing out that our personal, internal world is the same as our outer world.

Deer figure prominently in the series of painting for this exhibition. What inspired you to use them as a theme?
The Sleeping Deer is an image that speaks to me of something fragile and vulnerable. Most of the time I paint them curled up in a boat or tucked in a pod underground. I want to engage viewers so that they meditate on the deer seeking protection or solace.

On your website, www.richardwilliamblanchard.com, you feature a number of your works, which reveal your wide range. What themes are you drawn to in your art?
I have a series that I intend to continue called "Becoming Greenman," where I paint myself as the key player in the story line. The paintings are surrealistic, have a political point of view, and bend time between now and the Gilded Age of the Robber Barons. It is a challenge to paint myself while I look in the mirror. For the past couple of years, my main focus has been Abstract Expressionist landscape paintings, where I stack hemispheres one over the other. I like the interaction and design of various planes, skies, suns, moons, and trees as structures aligning themselves and at times breaking up into fragments into intuitive constructions. All these elements are fundamental building blocks of all the paintings I do in every series.

Is there one piece of art in the new exhibit that seems to resonate with people who have come to the show?
Several of the pieces were mentioned as favorites by the crowd, however "Trust" was mostly talked about for sure. The symbolic  story line basically is a sleeping deer lying in a partially unmanifested dingy boat sailing toward Maine (depicted below him with an upside down lighthouse). The boat with the deer appears to be going over the edge, but a tree in simultaneous gravity supports them and guides them to safety. Beyond the horizon is a mechanistic and chronological world that he has left behind to return home to the place that is familiar and safe.

Do you have a favorite work of art in this new series?
I am happy with all of them but I am partial to "On the Edge of Town #2"


Article by Stacey Jacobsohn

"Richard William Blanchard, Class of 1982" by Stacey Jacobsohn published in the UMA Alumni Newsletter 2010.

Richard William Blanchard, Class of 1982

Everyone knew Richard on campus; his hair was like a neon light, and his persona was just as stunning. He first cut my hair in a classroom down in the Arts Building, next to a slop sink in the printmaking studio. As time went by, we became thick as thieves and my hair got progressively shorter, until I too came home with a Mohawk and my mother hit the roof. It was turquoise. We always turned heads at UMA on our way to the SAC (for you newbies, the SAC, or Student Activity Center, was located where the photo lab is now, with a cafeteria and pool tables), or “The Pit” (now the center of Danforth Gallery). I always saw him full of confidence and boundless energy. His bold “live sculpture” exhibit in Danforth Gallery on April Fools Day in 1983, “Primitech,” drew me in hook, line and sinker, propelling us for three years into realms of incredible creativity. Richard always pushed us all in Primitech a little further than we were willing to go, never satisfied until he had taken every concept to the extreme. Through it all, he always projected a disarming humility, a gracious sense of humor, and a quiet, clear leadership ability to bring the most out of every situation. Recently, he shared with me that he had felt no sense of accomplishment or ability before he came to UMA. He felt he was, in fact, a mediocre student in high school, only excelling in art, and had no idea what to do with his life. His guidance counselor at Winthrop High School, Mrs. Whitney, steered him to UMA and the graphic assistantship with Phil Paratore, who mesmerized Richard with his dreamy painted imagery. Richard highly regarded his early exposure to UMA while still in high school; he sees it as playing a key role in building his self-esteem and confidence to earn a college degree.

Bruce Armstrong and Robert Katz also became strong influences for Richard, and it was always an adventure for both of us to reconcile all the varied teachings together, and a testament to the balance of UMA. It both challenged us to excel in our chosen path and to do so with all-out support and encouragement. One lesson that stood out in Richard’s mind as a great influence at UMA was from Robert Katz: “He made it very clear to us that we need to stay in concept. Design skills help us make our point clear, but concept drives our pieces to communicate to our audience. It triggers our higher imagination and creates an environment for our observers to be in. He was always pushing us to see a bigger picture and stretch our idea of what materials to use to best get that idea across. With Robert there were no boundaries.”

Richard now shuttles between California and Maine and has operated a business in decorative arts and painting for over 25 years. He credits his success both as an artist for others, from demanding celebrity clients to precision designers, as well as his success painting on canvas for himself, to the experience he had close to home at UMA.

His personal collection of surreal land and skyscapes were recently shown at Slate’s Restaurant in Hallowell, and large percentages were sold quickly. Slate’s all along has been very supportive of his art and theatrical career, having hosted many avant-garde performances of Primitech, where we “took over” the place in improvisation and mayhem. Anyone who was around in Hallowell back then will remember the hooplah. In recent years, he continued occasionally at Slate’s with a solo career as “Zu,” refining his voice and production level to a roaring audience. His last musical/theatrical show, entitled “TruHuman,” harkened all the way back to the exploration we began while students at UMA. I recognized the same strains based on Charles Ives eerie discordant music that we performed to then in my father’s basement, as I filmed video for an assignment in Phil Partatore’s “4D” class. That was quite a class; I know I was never the same. It seems ironic now that Richard’s powerful voice, that always reminds me slightly of David Bowie, was born in such a meek way. He asked me once, timidly, after we had started to create original music for Primitech, whether I really thought he could sing. I assured him that he could.

As we spoke recently of that journey through the 80’s, it strikes us both as important that we acknowledge not just the outstanding faculty and school atmosphere, but the community formed by peer students at UMA. In fact, the three years we spent collaborating, starting at UMA, were some of the most productive of our lives; they were just as important as the schoolwork, and we both hope to collaborate again in the future.

Only this time I think I’ll skip the Mohawk. All set with that.