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 Maynards paintings are stormy,
dramatic, intense. Works in black and white, youd 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, theyre 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
mastersometimes so well that the master signed paintings
he had not, in fact, painted. But Gerards classes are
not about do-as-I-do. Theyre about expression within
structure. I dont teach abstract work or figurative
work but the formal structure that underlies all that. Its
inclusive rather than exclusive. Its about opening doors.
Yet hell be the first to assert that
having technique is not enough. Just because you can
draw well doesnt make it good art.
His own work doesnt imitate objective reality. Its strong
coils and swirls arent an homage to bias-ply tires;
you wont see convoluted tropical vines in their loops
and whorls (nor fingerprints, come to think of it). They dont
bear titlessuch as Composition No. 1 or Kinetic
Molpai or Thoughts After a Migraine Headache.
Theyre about energy rather than things or feelings.
Theyre 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 scholars stone,
a metaphor of the larger landscape, which provides a focus
Hes 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 Universitys 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 couldnt find three more disparate
artists if you tried, nor further removed from Gerards
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
thats a valid question for a student, he answers: Its
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.
Its really difficult being an
artist, he explains, because art is about what
hasnt 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 Im not in class.