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Reviews: “Semiprecious” by Sam Wolfe Connelly @ Spoke Art

On October 8th, Spoke Art in San Francisco opened the first solo show of New York artist Sam Wolfe Connelly. Having recently graduated with a degree in illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design, it’s amazing that Sam already has a solo show, and a very strong one at that. He has previously shown work with Gallery Nucleus and Bold Hype, but this was his opportunity to show a series of works that will not only show his considerable talent, but the consistency, and cohesiveness. I stopped by the reception night, took a look at the works, snapped some photos, and was able to talk to Sam for a bit about his working process.

Entitled “Semiprecious”, this new series of works deals with the idea of being left, having a feeling of being flawed, and that something out there besides you is more precious than you are. The works are inspired by “grave robbing and underground mining; two subjects that darkly probe the depths of both the physical and spiritual worlds.” In a few of the works, such as Vanadium, and Luster I (shown below), amid the bands of light that stretch across the surface of the gem, there are also lines that could stand for fractures. After you eye dances around the darks and lights that make up the precious stones, you see that there is a beautifully rendered figure trapped inside. Or perhaps it is meant that the viewer is peering through this stone, and it acts as a filter between the viewer and the figure which still gives the idea of something in between you, and someone who should be more precious than the gems that highlight them.

I have always been attracted to figurative works, so I was especially taken in with the way that Sam handled the media in which the works were comprised of. He said that he chooses what materials he is going to use based on what effect he wants. So if the goal is a particularly moody piece, such as Alex (shown below), he will use graphite on paper and really build up that sfumato. The drawings have this amazing smokey quality to them, you will find no harsh lines in these works. I don’t want to say the way in which he applied the graphite is painterly, it seems more related to photography, in which the works have this grainy feel to them and almost a vignette around the border.

The back had a print that was digitally colored with the original drawing next to it. It was good to see that Sam is also quite skilled with digital means of art as well, which shouldn’t be surprising after seeing the list of clients he has done work for: Playboy, Hasbro, Evil Ink Comics, and more. The other side of the wall had 9 8.5″ x 11″ sketches that were done after Sam arrived in San Francisco. Each one is graphite and silver ink on a toned piece of paper. I like that the decision was made as the show was being hung to add some more pieces, which also allowed fans to to check out the looser style of drawing Sam has when doing sketches.

The show is now down, and “Bad Dads” Round 2 will be opening on October 29th, but I am pretty sure this is not the last we will be seeing of Sam Wolfe Connelly at Spoke Art. The show looked fantastic and for a debut solo show, I am now wondering what the next show will be liek if this is just the beginning.

Check out Sam’s homepage and make sure to check out his Tumblr while your there. Sam Wolfe Connelly

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