Eye on Art Gallery; through June 3.
What are the qualities that distinguish a great painting from a merely good one? That's the question running through my mind as I viewed the landscapes of Indy resident and Herron grad Rob Day. In paintings such as "Birches" (oil on linen) I saw both a distinct stylization in his depiction of a birch forest and a simplification of forms to basic components. While there's a certain inspired alchemy to his studio re-imaginings of archetypical Hoosier landscapes (Day isn't a plein air painter), as well as technical mastery in "Birches" and in his other paintings on display, I didn't find anything particularly riveting.
Except, that is, for "Late Night."
This oil on masonite painting portrays a pair of houses in the middle of a field. The window of one of the houses is glowing like a computer screen. And the light in the sky is twilit, like the sky in a city. And the leaves are flying off the tree in the foreground but there's no other indication that there's any kind of storm or wind blowing. I wanted to ask what'sgoingonhere? But there it was, right in front of me: the essence of a great painting. That is: the capacity to draw you in, to make you wonder, and to make you care.