OLD FRIENDS: Willard Dixon & Richard Shaw

OLD FRIENDS: Willard Dixon & Richard Shaw

August 19 – September 15

Opening Reception, Saturday, August 26, 4-6 PM


Andra Norris Gallery is proud to present “Old Friends” — a two-person exhibition featuring new work by celebrated artists Willard Dixon and Richard Shaw.


Willard Dixon and Richard Shaw met in the sixties when they were students at the San Francisco Art Institute, where they studied art and joined the Studio 13 band, playing New Orleans-style jazz in a group that once included artists Elmer Bischoff and David Park. The band had a long tradition at the school, and over the years the artists would see each other at art openings and sometimes perform at them. Though Dixon’s and Shaw’s art is vastly dissimilar, their important individual contributions, taking root in California’s Bay Area, are integral to American contemporary art.

In the world of ceramics, Richard Shaw is a professor and the master of trompe l’oeil (French for “fool the eye”) sculpture, a style often associated with paintings intended to give a convincing illusion of reality. Shaw's work replicates everyday objects (such as tin cans, playing cards, and cutlery) in porcelain. He then glazes these components and groups them in unexpected and even jarring combinations. While interested in how objects can reflect a person’s identity, Shaw also poses questions regarding the relationship between appearance and authenticity.


Willard Dixon, known for capturing the vast beauty of the American West, sees possible paintings in his everyday movements through the world, which he later develops in a way that communicates the feeling of what he experiences. Dixon’s paintings, with their signature early-evening light, feature landscapes, water, and sky, and they include vistas from the artist’s recent travels to the Hawaiian Islands and from skies over Utah. His painting “Shikantaza” is a larger and more complex undertaking that expresses the impenetrable mystery and beauty of nature and existence, with its title taken from the Zen meditative tradition of which Willard is a lifelong practitioner.


Willard says of his friend Richard, “I’ve always admired the inventive subtlety of his work, the humor, and the great skill of his craft. His pieces often include many things that one might find in a painter's studio, the old tubes of paint, a brush, a pencil, or an eraser, or some of the flotsam that seems to accumulate around an artist's workspace… one might say he was celebrating the humble means of our art. These things even occasionally metamorphosize into a lively figure!” 


Richard notes that, during their time together as students in the 1960s, he respected Willard for his pure “rebellious” dedication to his artistic vision, in which he pushed back against mainstream popularity. Their friendship has developed over the years, and their mutual respect continues to this day.

Please join us for a very special opening reception on Saturday, August 26, 4-6 PM, when the artists will be with us in the gallery.