GODFREY - The inaugural exhibit of the Hatheway Cultural Center Art Gallery at Lewis and Clark Community College features the brilliantly colored abstract paintings of American artist Dale Threlkeld.

The exhibit, "Dale Threlkeld: Birth to Light," features a collection of works, large and small, that call to mind telescopic observations from the Hubble Space Telescope of nebulas, spiral galaxies or supernovas, or aerial views from space looking down at the estuaries of the earth's great rivers.

The seminal painting in the exhibit, the 22x7-foot diptych "Birth to Light," took more than three months and 15 quarts of paint to complete. The combined synergy between it and the smaller diptych "Guardian," makes a profound visual statement about the evolution and totality of Threlkeld's work.

Threlkeld's realism is comprised of his sense of color, scale and the exquisite details that arrive from his skilled mastery of oil paint. Varying the surface texture from thickly laid impasto strokes mixed directly on the canvas with subtle washes overlaying one another, accented with lines, both thick and thin that float above passages of smooth flat colors, the three dimensionality of his paintings are both physical and visual. His foreground, middle ground and background are suggested through the layering of color and the variety of his application process. There is no specific focal point to the art work - rather, the entire painting becomes the focus.

"Color is such a great expressive tool. I see so many colors as I mix the paint. I don't have a favorite color, but I tend to stay away from black. My sources of inspiration are everywhere - great music, literature, nature, anything that just gets your pulse going," Threlkeld said. "A work of art should be a revelation. Art that is a revelation explores the territory between the explicable and the inexplicable. The inexplicable is more interesting to me. As with any adventure, the process of painting is full of the potential unknown. Something new is revealed even though it may be linked to what we already know or suspect. The beauty of it is its mystery; the mystery of it is its beauty."

An opening for the exhibit will be hosted by the Lewis and Clark Community College Foundation's 1838 Society from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 24. Attendees should RSVP with Chris Paulda in advance at (618) 468-2011 or cpaulda@lc.edu.

The exhibit itself will run from Aug. 25 - Oct. 4 and is open to the public.

"This is truly exciting - for the first time art works will be displayed in the Hatheway Cultural Center. This exhibition has been designed especially for the incredibly dynamic and multi-layered paintings of Dale Threlkeld," said Jim Price, professor of art, history and culture at Lewis and Clark. "His paintings in this setting make for a visual delight. Visitors to the gallery will be treated to a display that will enthrall everyone ranging from the novice to the most advanced connoisseur."

The origins of Threlkeld's work come from years of experimenting with paint and his intellectual observations of the concepts of non-objective painting. The distinctive imprint of his work comes from his ongoing exploration of the physical interaction of his materials and its applications, while his impressive body of work is the result of his vast experiences coupled with a confidence of skill and his total freedom of expression.

Threlkeld was born in April 1944 in the small town of Shelbina, Mo. and grew up in Northeast Missouri and Southwest Illinois. For the past 40 years, he has exhibited his artwork extensively throughout the Midwest and East Coast and has become a nationally recognized artist.

He was introduced to art at a young age and traveled often with his father, Joseph Magruder Threlkeld, who was a jockey and a trainer who worked with thoroughbred horses on the Midwest horseracing circuit. After graduating from high school in 1962 with honors, he became the first in his family to attend college. Upon graduation from Northeast Missouri State Teacher's College (now Truman State University) in 1966, he joined the United States Army and served from 1966 to 1969 - including one year in Vietnam (1967-1968). In 1969, he chose to use the GI Bill to continue college at Ball State University and pursue a career in art.

After a stint teaching at Belleville Area College, and working toward his MFA at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Threlkeld headed to New York and was accepted into Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Gallery of London, Zurich and New York City. In 1975, at age 31, he was listed in Who's Who in American Art. Since then, his paintings have been shown all over. Currently he spends his time between his studio in Illinois and New York City.

"I think that we go through four stages in art. The first stage is when you're a kid and you make art for your mom. The second stage is when you are a student, and most artists stay students for a long time - I've always been a student," Threlkeld said. "The third stage is when you think you're an artist, and it's kind of like putting on a smock and going into the studio, but the last stage is when you really become one and it's your skin."

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