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  Exercise in creative critical writing, Art Criticism and Writing Course, NODE Center for Curatorial Studies, instructor An Paenhuysen,
July 2015

On Dale Leys, contributing essay for Quiet Lines Over Time, curated by Andrew Cozzens, PUBLIC Contemporary Art Gallery, Louisville, KY, September 2015

Dale has an incredible ability to dissect visual stimuli into these miniscule parts. The manner of how he thinks is not in finite, but in phenomena. This is why his drawings are so dense. They are ramifications of his acute attention to detail – detail beyond physical, detail that exists metaphysically in the present, past, and future simultaneously. The way he alters the state of his lines and the way he uses layering of color reflects consistent inconsistencies and address the fallibility of human nature. When I look at Dale’s drawings – or even when I have a conversation with him – it’s like trying to understand string theory. Everything is so dynamic with endless possibilities that the drawings (and Dale) are in a constant state of inquisition. Because of this, the drawings are factual yet never concrete; plausible, yet never attainable.

I can remember the beginning of a Fall semester when Dale had just returned from a summer of plein air drawing in Italy. He confessed to an obsession with this fuscia ink. It seemed like such a fabricated color, one that you wouldn’t believe existed in nature. Later, I attended a plein air workshop that Dale was instructing. He begins the session by dissecting the visual field: first establishing boundaries of his frame, laying out the foreground, middle ground and background, identifying the value scale and then he starts to pick out colors. And there it was: pink. Bright fabricated fuscia pink. In everything. He starts to lay down layers and layers of color. Constantly going back to the pink – pink in dark blue, pink in forest green, pink in brilliant white. And, the man is right. There is pink everywhere.

Now I see it. Pink. Everywhere. Thanks, Dale, for opening my mind’s eye to the infinite layers of possibility, even in colors and even with pink.


Exercise in creative critical writing, Art Criticism and Writing Course, NODE Center for Curatorial Studies, instructor An Paenhuysen, July 2015

There is a crusty clay Mexican adobe-style structure off of a dusty quiet road. It is really obvious that the front room is for selling. The light is very nice and swept clean of any desert evidence; it has dappled light filtered through a pergola style roof top which bounces off crisp white walls. Everything is in order and there is a delicate balance of seclusion and sales-pitching. But in the back, near the artist’s studio, there is an outdoor space with narrow pathways and things crammed everywhere. It’s a creative mind paradise. The best part is this section of a cinderblock wall that has been painted purple and in front of it sits a bunch of topsy turvey plants that mimic the same purple as if in attempt to camouflage. I stood there for several minutes, happy to be out of the sales room but sad that this wasn’t part of the show. Either I have a really strange taste, or when I am in art galleries I tend to search out these moments or places that are overlooked and/or understated, then I fixate myself to it. Then there was this bright red wall. It was screaming. When we talked to the nearest worker (re: salesperson) she explained that it was a last attempt at redeeming the space. It was an incredible moment that unfortunately was totally lost because the protocol for sales did not include bright red. What a shame.

  © 2015 All Rights Reserved Stacey Reason