Barclay Sheaks Gallery: A retrospective exhibition 1935-2000
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A retrospective exhibition 1935-2000
Barclay Sheaks Barclay Sheaks, Distinguished Artist-in-residence, founder of the art department, and Associate Professor at Virginia Wesleyan College, is a nationally-known painter whose work is owned by numerous museums, as well as by many distinguished university, corporate, and private art collections. Sheaks' reputation dates from the early 1960s with his acrylic paintings of waterfront scenes, and ever since, the wetlands, farmlands and people of the Chesapeake Bay have been a central theme in his art, and probably the kind of subjects for which he is best known.

Sheaks conveys his passion and sensibility not only as a painter, but also as a poet, and in his many activities as an outdoors man. Sheaks' art reflects an intimate relationship with the environment in which the artist spends his time, and the people he finds there. Other important themes in his art are his ongoing interest in abstract composition, and, especially in his more recent work, the quiet, and very human world of the studio. No matter what theme is undertaken, his painting style is characterized by the interplay of formal elements—the structural strength and clarity of composition and spatial division, united with the most fleeting effects of light, atmosphere, and a rich array of visual textures.

With the establishment of the Barclay Sheaks Gallery, Virginia Wesleyan College has taken advantage of a unique opportunity to collect and display a body of work which is not only stunning visually, but which also expresses so compellingly the values of liberal and lifelong learning. The paintings are a tangible manifestation of what comes from taking knowledge, and nurturing it with work, continuous application, experience and vision. The work is eloquent testimony to how perseverance and diligence combine with creativity and inspiration to create lasting objects.

Sheaks was here at the foundation of the college, provides continuity, and sets a standard of excellence for the future. The Barclay Sheaks Gallery allows everyone to enjoy these works, and provides a place where our students can experience the visual arts first hand whenever they like. The elegance and prominence of the gallery demonstrates the college's regard for the artist, what he has produced, and what he has contributed to his students, his colleagues, and to the growth of the institution. It also demonstrates the college's understanding and appreciation of the unspoken intangibles which separate great education from mediocre education.

Joyce Bernstein Howell

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