About the Artwork

The world is transforming. The artist is changing too. Therefore the artworks are also transforming, changing while viewed and created.

Unstuck Series, infinite loop animation, graphite on recyclable aluminum

Main Themes

The core themes of Gregory Scheckler’s contemporary art-making are 

  • Visual and Cognitive Experiences of Change, Impermanence, and Transformation
  • Processes of Timespans, Waves, Cycles, and Feedback Loops as Bases of Improvisations
  • Relationships to Nature, with references to Physics, Earth Sciences, Ecology, Astronomy, Neurology, and Biology
  • Relationships to Philosophies and Art Histories, through painting, photography, and drawing

Methods 

Around 2015-2020, Gregory Scheckler became dissatisfied with his prior art practices, which centered on realistic, figurative paintings, landscape, and nature photos, such as of birds in flight. He began to pull these methods apart and look closely at the process of developing imagery. Beneath them, he found a constant reliance on gesture-drawing approaches, improvisation, and careful observation of the natural world. He focused and intensified these methods into new forms, making the underlying processes of change and transformation central to the concepts of new artworks. 

The movements of the artist and the viewer relate to a wide range of natural patterns. However, the artworks are not depictions of what natural forms look like, so much as poetic recordings and reinterpretations of them, subject to ongoing changes such as accretion, erasure, recycling, and tarnishing over time. Main forces of the movements used to make the imagery are attractions (coming together, such as gravity) and repulsions (moving apart, such as radiation). These movements are related to observations of natural forms and forces, but generated through improvisation, so that rather than wholly planned, the artworks’ imagery is grown, or feels emergent and spontaneous.

The flash of graphite in a drawing, creating visual movement for the viewer

Timing and Rhythm

Each artwork is made with a sense of timing, both as a reality of how long it takes to create the artwork, as well as a metaphor for concepts of change. Many artwork’s timing relates to natural processes like orbits and spin, such as beginning and ending a project from dawn to dusk, or longer durations and transits, such as Equinox to Equinox of the Earth related to the Sun. In contrast, some of the artworks are intended to be perpetually unfinished, always subject to erasure and recycling. Timing and its cycles develop a physical realism that is similar to how the natural world (and we ourselves) cycles through many oscillations and transits every day, a kind of visual percussion, based in the fundamental recognition that everything changes, transforming from one form to another.

Materials

The materials are usually easily accessible media that many people can use, but each medium also evokes complex histories, economies, and ecologies. Sparse and focused, yet richly dark and reflective, graphite’s complex history includes how it was relied on by indigenous American tribes for pottery and ceremonial face paints, by art academies for its beauty, as a critical mapping medium during the US Civil War, and today as an essential ingredient for producing metals, lubricants, energy, and batteries. A necessary part of humanity: we are carbon-based life forms, mixed with a lot of water. But because it is made of carbon, it is also a concern related to fundamentals of climate change. And it becomes the common, accessible school pencil. Gregory Scheckler chooses materials that appear simple and common, but which provoke and rely on deep cultural and economic relationships.

Vermont Graphite in its natural form, found by the artist.

Digital Media add a new layer of materials and methods too. First, Scheckler chooses low-cost and easily available software to build digital imagery via smartphone and tablet — basic media typical today. These tools are built by thousands of engineers, designers, and coders… the artwork is therefore a collaboration with vast swathes of contemporary cultures and economies. The devices also mean that light (as projected from a screen) and electricity (mainly from his solar-powered house) become the primary bases of the look and feel of the animations.

Contexts

Several cultures’ ancient philosophies focused on ideas of ongoing change, such as the fragments of Heraclitus of Ephesus, who was famously quoted as stating that “One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs.” (Kahn translation, The Art and Thought of Heraclitus, LI, p. 53). Updated contemporary knowledge gained from the natural sciences amplifies types and kinds of change too, such as recent discoveries about how the universe is expanding. Modern equations don’t all apply to the scale of these artworks, but viewed as fuel for artistic inspirations and metaphors, they often point to a mobile, dynamic cosmos.

Regarding art histories, many of Scheckler’s artworks exist in multiple formats, for example as digital animations in addition to physical wall art such as a drawing, painting, or print. These multiple presentations develop a literal diversity of interactions and forms of the finished artwork, in contrast to the singular, heroic, original painting emphasized by earlier generations of abstraction, as well as in contrast to the monocular single point-of-view and mad stillness of most representational, figurative art. This implies much broader, more horizontal or ‘Superflat’ economies of the arts today (Superflat is a term coined by Murakami to describe how art can be accessible at every part of the art world, from popular culture to elite musuems). Gesture drawing, movement, observation, nature, science, economies of art media, and art histories blend together in Scheckler’s artworks. 

Reviews

Here are some comments from noted experts and reviewers:

  • Joe Thompson, former Director of MASSMoCA: “Gregory can paint, but more than that he couples traditional (and beautifully realized) techniques – glazes, sfumato, deft brushwork – with fresh ideas about representation, narrative, and symbol.” 
  • Keith Shaw, art critic The Berkshire Eagle and Artscope Magazine: “Trained under figurative artists here and abroad, he has significant technical skills, and is an accomplished draughtsman and painter… Scheckler is a thinking artist with genuine ability.”  
  • Kate Abbott, editor Berkshires Week, author, poet: “Scheckler paints with a clear understanding of zoology, physics, mythology, art history… with enjoyment in exploration that feels very much like the Renaissance curiosity that he references… his real skill look effortless, like a gymnast turning aerials on a balance beam, but we feel the effort, the patience and grit and skill it takes, and it turns us breathless.”

Selected Exhibits 2022-1995:

Gregory Scheckler began exhibiting artwork in professional forums in 1990. Here are a few of the more than 120 shows his work has been in over the last three decades:

  • Hauntings, Left Bank Gallery, North Bennington, VT
  • Vermont Utopias: Imagining the Future, Bennington Museum, VT
  • Faculty Artists… New England Colleges, Berkshire Art Museum, North Adams, MA
  • Taking Flight: Art Inspired by Birds, Spring Street Gallery, Saratoga Springs, NY
  • Biotope, Gallery 51, North Adams MA
  • Vessels for Change, Bright Ideas, North Adams MA
  • Free Fall, Soo Rye Gallery, Rye NH (double solo, with S. Bulger,)
  • Woodshed IV, Gallery 51, North Adams MA (curated by S. Cross of MASS MoCA)
  • Air Quintets and Other Bird Paintings, Bennington Museum, Bennington VT
  • Five, Greylock Arts, Adams, MA
  • Atmosphere Exposed: Photos…, The National Science Foundation, Washington DC
  • Remixed Messages: 1990-2011, Gallery 51, North Adams, MA
  • The Birding Life , Ferrin Gallery, Pittsfield, MA
  • A Book about Death / ABAD 23 , Second Avenue Firehouse Gallery, New York, NY
  • Small Works, Ferrin Gallery, Pittsfield, MA Interiors: Forest Scenes in the Berkshires, Images Cinema, Williamstown MA
  • Natural Selections, Greylock Arts, Adams, MA
  • Atmosphere Exposed, Boyden Gallery St. Mary’s College, St. Mary’s City MD
  • International Exhibition in Honor of Judith Hoffberg, Susan and John Caldwell Gallery at the Armory Ctr for the Arts, Pasadena, CA
  • Peace!, Officina delle Immagini, Rome, Italy
  • Fluxus St. Louis, Fluxus St. Louis with Museum of Contemporary Art St. Louis / Artfarm, MO
  • Splice, Museum of Oxfordshire, Woodstock, United Kingdom
  • Impossible Objects, Espacio de Arte Klee, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Spectacular Sights: … Places Yet to Be Seen, Galleri KG54, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Small Works: Art + Object , Ferrin Gallery, Pittsfield, MA
  • Faculties of Art, Gallery 51, North Adams, MA
  • Chronograph, Hotz Nature Center/ Newport State Park, Ellison Bay, WI
  • Contemporary Berkshires, Kolok Gallery, North Adams, MA
  • State of the Art 2007, Bunker Hill Community College Gallery, Boston, MA
  • The Desk Project, Gallery 51, North Adams, MA
  • Recent Landscapes, Southern Vermont Arts Center / Yester House, Manchester VT
  • Opening Show: Red Giants, Contemporary Artist’s Center, N. Adams MA (4-person)
  • Concrete Change, MCLA Main Quad, North Adams, MA
  • Farewell: Recent Paintings, Washburn Historical and Cultural Museum, WI
  • Wired Word Dayz, Washington Galleries, Duluth MN
  • Allegory of Flight, Canal Park / City of Duluth, MN and Superior WI
  • Codependency: Text + Image, Alliance for the Varied Arts, Logan UT
  • Utah Artists, Glendinning Gallery / Utah Arts Council, Salt Lake City UT
  • Utah ’95, Utah Museum of Fine Art, Salt Lake City UT
  • WallFall: Meme Nest and Phoneme Garden, online art via Usenet arts newsgroups
  • Pencil to Paper, One West Art Center / Fort Collins MOCA, Fort Collins CO

Collections

  • Illinois State University, Normal IL (drawings)
  • Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams MA (paintings)
  • Clarksburg State Park, Clarksburg, MA (nature photos)
  • Newport State Park / Hotz Nature Center, Ellison Bay, WI (painting)
  • Miller-Dwan Foundation, Duluth, MN (paintings)
  • Judith A. Hoffberg Archive at the Library, Univ. of CA, Santa Barbara, CA (painted print)
  • Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA (paintings)