Painting a Declared Surplus

Artist Steven Rhude gives voice to lighthouses that have been tagged as obsolete.

Steven Rhude's painting of a candy-striped lighthouse, tipped to the right by the weight of a rope pulling at its top from the hands of an unnamed stranger is unsettling; lighthouses are a thread in the landscape fabric of the east coast, or any coast of Canada. But Steven Rhude's new exhibition, Declared Surplus, speaks to a risk that's all too real. "Most of my subject matter, since I've lived here, has been coastal or rural oriented, but very much in the sense of how the urban agenda has affected it," says Rhude. "With the government recently declaring a list of lighthouse surplus, it got me thinking that it's time to step up to the plate and do something comprehensive." Rhude adds that his paintings hold a tension between a literal site---one you might recognize---and a referential place. "Sort of fact and fiction," he says. "What I want to suggest is that these buildings are more than just obsolete, utilitarian objects, but when you declare them surplus, suddenly they lose their voice, metaphorically. In the painter's eyes they take on a figurative journey---and where they're going, no one knows." Talk to Rhude about his work, the surplus and our lighthouses at his opening reception this Friday, 7pm.

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