The InCommon Profile
In Perspective


Gerard Maynard, painter and carpenter, in his loft studio.The painting behind him is Vector Helix (2002), acrylic on canvas, 76 inches by 68 inches. Photo courtesy Gerard Maynard

Gerard Maynard’s paintings are stormy, dramatic, intense. Works in black and white, you’d think, should be simple; these are complex and vigorous, almost roiling their way off the canvas.

But what this new assistant professor of art teaches at Moravian is classic representational drawing. “When students come to college, they’re in a kind of deficit,” he says. “We start with articulating a language we can all share. I teach skills.”

Art study has come a long way since “the school of Rubens” or “the atelier of Poussin,” in which apprentices learned to paint in the style of the master—sometimes so well that the master signed paintings he had not, in fact, painted. But Gerard’s classes are not about do-as-I-do. They’re about expression within structure. “I don’t teach abstract work or figurative work but the formal structure that underlies all that. It’s inclusive rather than exclusive. It’s about opening doors.”

Yet he’ll be the first to assert that having technique is not enough. “Just because you can draw well doesn’t make it good art.”
His own work doesn’t imitate objective reality. Its strong coils and swirls aren’t an homage to bias-ply tires; you won’t see convoluted tropical vines in their loops and whorls (nor fingerprints, come to think of it). They don’t bear titlessuch as “Composition No. 1” or “Kinetic Molpai” or “Thoughts After a Migraine Headache.” They’re about energy rather than things or feelings.

They’re also about what can be created using the computer, an artistic assistant whose potential he has been exploring.

Yet Gerard also is in love with Chinese primitive art, delicate and definite, emblematic of the culture that produced it. On his desk is a Chinese scholar’s stone, a metaphor of the larger landscape, which provides a focus for contemplation.

He’s just as invested in the masters of the 20th century. As a college student in 1992, doing a year abroad in Rome, he traveled to France and Holland to go “everywhere Van Gogh painted”: Arles, St. Remy, Auvers-sur-Oise, Paris, Amsterdam.

And he is a proficient carpenter, a craft far removed from the world of abstract painting. His office in the art building of the Priscilla Payne Hurd Campus is just about filled with an enormous expanse of maple: better than a desk, because it offers all the area he needs for paperwork, drafting, and computer exploration.

Gerard was born in South Dakota and raised in Pittsburgh, where he learned to draw in Saturday art classes at Carnegie-Mellon University. His undergraduate degree is from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, and he just completed a Master of Fine Arts in painting at Yale University. Somewhere along the way, he says with a smile, “I became a lot less conservative.”

Artists he admires include Annika Larson, a Swedish video artist who directs and controls vision by exploring tensions between people; Alfred Jensen, a painter who explores color, magnetic fields, and number structures; and Willem de Kooning, the Dutch-American painter whose gestural works bask in light. You couldn’t find three more disparate artists if you tried, nor further removed from Gerard’s own work. Admiration does not always result in imitation.

For his students, he stresses the foundations. As an artist-lecturer at Yale, he taught basic drawing to undergraduate and graduate students. Here, “one of the things we do is study pictorial structure, as in the Renaissance. Rigor makes ideas hold over time.”
He also is concerned that those with the vision to become real artists be able to make a living from it.

“Artists have to make decisions about how to make their art marketable,” he says. Asked if that’s a valid question for a student, he answers: “It’s a necessary one. . . . As a young artist, you have only a five- to 10-year window [to succeed] in New York.”
He believes students should think about “what these choices mean to the culture.” Their decision to work in glass instead of ceramics, to create large museum-size paintings or small chamber works, to explore representational art over abstract, has an effect on the future culture, and thus on whether they will be able to support themselves as artists.

“It’s really difficult being an artist,” he explains, “because art is about what hasn’t been done before and what else there is to say.”
Teaching full time has not turned him into a Sunday painter. Gerard maintains working relationships with galleries, studios, and the art market. He had an exhibit this fall at John Connelly Presents in New York and also sells through Larry Becker Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.

“I paint as much as I can,” he says, “whenever I’m not in class.”

December 10, 2002

In Perspective:
The InCommon Profile is of Gerard Maynard, new assistant professor of painting.

Pennies from Heaven:
Results of the Human Sundae competition.

Bookworms:
Formation of a Friends of the Library support group.

Anna Quindlen comes to Moravian as a neighbor.

Housekeeping:
all-campus announcements

Datebook:
campus calendar.
Gaudeamus:
faculty/staff/student achievements.