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Realms of abstraction and mythical spirits

Between the realms of realism and abstraction is the place where artists take the beauty of what we all see and transform it into something that they alone envision.

"The challenge," says artist Greeley Wells, "is to capture what you see, but after that initial conquest, you want it to be more interesting. You take the elements and start pushing it until you find that wonderful balance."

For 40 years, Wells has moved between the worlds of perception and intuition. A retrospective of his work, "Exploring the Balance Between Realism and Abstraction," will be on display through Nov. 7 at Medford's Rogue Gallery & Art Center, 40 S. Bartlett St. An opening reception for the artist has been scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16.

After earning his master's of fine arts from the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, Wells worked for 15 years as a commercial artist in the film industry. He settled in the Applegate Valley 20 years ago, living off the grid and continuing his studio work, which has been exhibited throughout Oregon and California.

The multimedia retrospective exhibit at the Rogue Gallery highlights decades of artistic exploration of the human form.

"The female form is the most beautiful on the planet," he says. "The possibilities for aesthetics — for line, form, motion, one curve playing off another — are unlimited."

Wells' work blends traditional and contemporary elements. Delicate drawings of mothers and children recall centuries of tender madonnas. Dozens of charcoal and graphite figures emerge from the paper with a master's minimal lines.

In other works, Wells takes the forms further. Subtly elongated figures explore the elegance of line and more abstract paintings uncover shapes and mass within the forms.

"The model or the landscape is the starting point," explains Wells. "When they are no longer present in the studio, a whole new set of considerations come into play and the abstraction begins. Playing with these artistic possibilities is what informs my work."

Call 772-8118 or visit www.roguegallery.org for more information.

Katherine Hannon is a freelance writer.

“Into the Light” by Greeley Wells