New art exhibit raises heavy questions about the future

by Niko Gonzalez

In local artist Skip Rohde’s painting “Pleasantville (A Modern Spouse and children),” a household of 4 poses ahead of a picket fence with their tough collie lounging in the vicinity of their ft. Flowers are in bloom, and the clan’s mom-daughter duo are both donning their brightest summer months dresses. Granted, much of the fabrics’ prints are included by the bulletproof vest each member wears, not to mention the AR-15s clutched in their fingers.

The portray, a commentary on America’s gun-crazed lifestyle, is 1 of various functions showcased in Rohde’s approaching exhibit, What May possibly Be, on screen at Pink Dog Gallery Friday, Aug. 26-Sunday, Sept. 25.

Describing his type as “Rockwell from hell,” Rohde adds that added artists such as Jerome Witkin also knowledgeable his collection’s unique combination of nostalgic pastiche and hard-hitting satire.

And whilst the problems confronted in the series elevate tricky concerns on topics this sort of as war and gentrification, Rohde’s tactic includes gentle touches of humor all through, permitting moments of levity amid the horror.

‘Now and Then’

Fascinated in artwork from a youthful age, Rohde claims he to begin with pursued painting as a major in the mid-’70s at a “crappy artwork school.” Underwhelmed by the software and establishment, Rohde ultimately put down his palette and brush to generate a diploma in engineering from Tennessee Tech University in 1977.

Soon after graduating, Rohde enlisted in the U.S. Navy, wherever his interest in art resurfaced. Stationed for a time in Fort Meade, Md., he enrolled in evening classes at Baltimore’s Maryland Institute College or university of Artwork. Tasked to build a even now existence, Rohde’s piece, “Now and Then,” featured a Navy hat and outdated teddy bear.

A fellow pupil, he remembers, interpreted the piece as a commentary on war’s quieter destruction, separating enlisted mom and dad from their children. “That produced me far more conscious that people have insights into my get the job done that I often really don’t,” he claims. “And so if I can get [viewers’] insights, then I can discover some thing additional about the operate and in convert learn something about myself.”

Many years afterwards, even though stationed in the Center East, Rohde commenced sketching Afghan officials. The physical exercise turned into Faces of Afghanistan, a selection of 50 sketches now housed in the Smithsonian’s Countrywide Museum of American Record.

‘City on the Hill’

On retiring from the Navy in 1999, Rohde relocated to Asheville, in which he attained a degree in high-quality arts in 2003 at UNC Asheville. He notes that his enthusiasm for portray portraits is immediately linked to his time in Afghanistan. And inspite of the style’s monetary hurdles — “painting people today does not market as well [as landscapes],” Rohde points out — he’s saved at it in the course of his evolution as a entire-time artist.