|HUNTINGTON BEACH: SPRING 2001: #1 (2001), BY RICHARD STENHOUSE|
ACQUIRED FROM JERALD MELBERG GALLERY, CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA, JULY 2001
CHARCOAL, PENCIL, AND PASTEL ON MYLAR, 14" BY 13"
This is not, repeat not, a photograph. (Just in case you thought it was.)
When I first saw one of the works from this series (this is the first in the series; there are at least two others) hanging on the wall at Jerald Melberg Gallery, my initial thought was "Wow, that's a pretty cool photograph." You can imagine my surprise when I moved closer and found that it was not actually a photograph, but a drawing executed in charcoal, pencil, and pastel by Richard Stenhouse. Of the three works in the series that I saw, this is the one that I liked the best.
Huntington Beach State Park is located just a few miles south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina... when I lived in Myrtle Beach (1973-1977), I visited the park several times, and I returned for a short visit in 2000. It remains totally undeveloped, in stark contrast to the endless miles of tourist beaches on both sides of the park.
In this work, Richard has reproduced a calm beach scene with almost uncanny precision. The greyish brown of the wet sand, the gentle waves (there's a sandbar a ways out that prevents large waves from reaching the beach), the subtle blue of the sky, and the random nature of the foam in the waves are all pretty much perfect (at least as far as I am concerned). Like Richard's other works (see The Forbidden Room), this work has a dreamlike quality about it... nothing is too sharp, and the image blurs a bit as you get closer to its edge. It seems like a memory, recorded onto mylar for all to see.
One thing that I really like about this work is how it contrasts with my first Stenhouse, The Forbidden Room. While The Forbidden Room is largely an exercise in straight lines, architectural perfection, and use of monochrome shading, Huntington Beach contains almost no straight lines, has no architecture whatsoever, and uses a subtle amount of color. Between these two works, Stenhouse's view of reality is, I think, quite well covered.
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