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Jon Schueler's Winter Sunday

Jon Schueler was part of the second wave of Abstract Expressionists in the mid-20th century. He did not begin painting until later in life, writing briefly for the New Haven Evening Register and then joining the U.S. Army Air Corps in September 1941. As a B-17 navigator stationed in England, he flew missions over France and Germany. Schueler was hospitalized and discharged in 1944, and following the war taught English at the University of San Francisco. He became increasingly interested in painting and at age 31 enrolled under the G.I. Bill at the California School of Fine Arts (San Francisco Art Institute.)

In 1951 he followed his mentor and noted abstract expressionist, Clyfford Still, to New York City, where he was introduced to many of the great painters of the day including Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock and Ad Reinhardt. Three years later he had his first solo exhibition at Eleanor Ward’s famed Stable Gallery, and went on to show with Leo Castelli.

Winter Sunday is part of the Art of Our Time installation at The Ringling. The work was painted during a stay in Mallaig, on the northwest coast of Scotland. Schueler was searching for an area where he could be close to nature and its power, as he had a deep interest in the transitions of maritime light. He found it in Mallaig, returning frequently from the 1950s until his death in 1992. The artist once said, “I went to Scotland to live inside my paintings.”

The vibrant reds and oranges of the painting seem surely to be related to the dramatic sunsets Schueler spoke about in his autobiography, just as the deep, cool blues and purples reference the interplay of light on the sea. Though rooted in his observation of nature, the painting is wholly non-objective, in keeping with the tenants of Abstract Expressionism.

Winter Sunday will serve as the inspiration for this week’s free art-making project, Thursday, Oct. 26, at Art After Five at The Ringling. Educators will introduce a technique using markers and rubbing alcohol on ceramic tiles that is appropriate for all ages. Visitors have the option of discounted admission to the museum to view the work. For more info, visit ringling.org.

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