Communique: Dick Roberts' Exhibit "Nevermore...": Toupée Or Not Toupée?

Jun 23, 2017

Dick: You know, what what the artist sees in that piece and what the viewer sees in the trees or hardly ever the same thing. 

 Gina: That's artist Dick Roberts making a profound statement that we'll revisit in a couple of minutes. Dick Roberts' exhibit Nevermore... is hanging in WHQR's MC Erny gallery. Tonight (Friday, June 23) is the closing reception. The exhibit will hang through July 14th. Dick Roberts creates bold abstracts with layers of color and figures that emerge unexpectedly.

 Dick:  To start a painting, I make an odd number of marks on the canvas with any color, doesn't matter. Three or five, and just boom boom boom randomly on the canvas and then go back with the next color or whatever and respond to that composition that you already laid down and from that you respond to those changes and on and on until the painting's finished. But I have a friend a Macedonian friend who always says the painting will show you the way, because I have no idea and I don't want an idea. And it's easy enough for me to empty my head. But I do. If I had a successful painting or two in the studio, I'll turn them to the wall before I start a new painting because I don't want to see em, because it's the expectation that you don't need. And you're missing out by going trying to recreate a passing rather than seeing what's in store for you that day.  Gina: In this exhibit, Roberts describes the work is being inspired by birds. The work most expressive of motion is a huge piece called "Like a Bird in Flight." 

"Like a Bird in Flight" by Dick Roberts (4'x8')
Credit WHQR/gg
Dick: They're not anatomically correct and you can't say that's a robin and that's hummingbird and that's a hawk. And that painting, that fairly large one "Like a Bird in Flight." When I first got here, Virginia Wright-Frierson had a show here and she and her husband-they're both musicians as well-and they were singing a song about West Virginia. It had these incredibly beautiful lyrics and one of the lyrics was "like a bird in flight," and you could just see the swoop, gentle swoop of a hawk or something you know. So when this show came about, I said you know, I think on this show that just for them.

 Gina: There are also some smaller pieces that are a little more literal in execution and very playful. 

 Dick:  You know, any shape that is kind of like a dumpy bottom and a pointy head could be a bird. But they're also sort of Dr. Seuss-type,  Dr. Seuss-esque, and they're humorous and you can give them expressions you know, whether angry, fear, happy, elated whatever. And that was one of those and it was that was the last one I did for the show I wanted to have some small pieces. 


"Threesome" by Dick Roberts....Toupee or not Toupee?
Credit WHQR/gg
Gina: The thing I noticed about the three [birds], the three skinny.... Dick: Right. Gina: And one of them has a toupee on. 

 Dick:'s possible. 

 Gina: I mean, it looks like he has a little brown hair or something.

 Dick: OK.

 Gina: You've got to look at it and tell me if that's a toupee. 

 Dick: Well, you know what...what the artist sees in the piece and what the viewer sees in the piece are hardly ever the same. 

 Gina: Rather generous of him, I must say. Tonight is the closing reception of Dick Roberts' "Nevermore..." at WHQR.  Photos and details at The exhibit hangs in the MC Erny Gallery through July 14.