Dan Rice at Black Mountain College: Painter Among the Poets

Dan Rice, Untitled, mixed media on paper, 23.875 x 17.875 inches. Collection of Hilary D. Rice.

From a press release:

Dan Rice at Black Mountain College: Painter Among the Poets

Exhibition: September 5, 2014 – January 10, 2015
Opening Reception: Friday, September 5th from 5:00 – 8:00pm, FREE Admission
Curated by Brian E. Butler
Gallery talk by the curator at 7:00pm, Sept. 5th

The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in downtown Asheville presents the new exhibition Dan Rice at Black Mountain College: Painter Among the Poets from September 5, 2014 – January 10, 2015 with a free opening reception on Friday, September 5 from 5:00 – 8:00pm. There will be a gallery talk by curator Brian E. Butler at 7:00pm during the opening reception. A full-color catalogue will be available to purchase.

On Saturday, September 6th at 2:00pm there will be a panel discussion called Dan Rice and the Poetics of Painting to engage with and explore Dan Rice’s legacy. The panel session will feature four people who studied painting with Rice: Christina Maile, artist and landscape architect; Ed Casey, renowned philosopher; Parviz Mohassel, philosopher and architect; and Virginia Foster, Rice’s partner for more than 20 years. This special event is FREE for BMCM+AC members + students with ID / $5 for non-members.

Dan Rice at Black Mountain College: Painter Among the Poets focuses on the paintings and relationships of Rice, a Black Mountain College student, then teacher, for 10 years, friend and associate of Franz Kline, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Motherwell, Willem deKooning and Mark Rothko, and overlooked figure in the development of Abstract Expressionism. Curated by Dr. Brian E. Butler, BMCM+AC Board Member, the project includes an amply illustrated exhibition catalogue with an essay by Butler.

This project brings Rice’s under-recognized work to the forefront and establishes a firm link between his time at Black Mountain College and his lifelong commitment to painting. Simultaneously, it explores the interconnections between the visual and the literary by highlighting Rice’s relationships with noted Black Mountain College poets, Charles Olson and Robert Creeley among many others. A work of Rice’s was used on the cover of Vol. 6 of the Black Mountain Review as well as on Jargon 4: The Double-Backed Beast, Paul Blackburn’s The Dissolving Fabric and books by Joel Oppenheimer, Joe Early and Ross Feld. This exhibition will serve as the visual counterpoint to BMCM+AC’s 6th annual conference, ReVIEWING Black Mountain College 6: The Writers of Black Mountain College to be held at UNC Asheville’s Reuter Center September 26-28.

While at Black Mountain College, Rice’s friends and peers included Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, and Robert Motherwell, who advised Rice, “Exhibit as often as you can.” He worked with Arthur Penn in theater design, and Merce Cunningham and John Cage in mixed media events. A central figure in the scene as the New York School developed, Rice lived, worked, and exhibited in Manhattan for many years. He then moved to Connecticut, where he taught and painted for the rest of his life. He died in 2003.

Rice’s work is among the best of his adventurous generation. His paintings are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Wadsworth Atheneum, and the Princeton University Art Museum. Simultaneously, his work is among the most underappreciated. Rice made his living not from his art, but as a frame builder, stretching canvases and mixing paints for his famous colleagues. His role as assistant to artist Mark Rothko is most famously depicted in the acclaimed play Red, by John Logan.

Rice is primarily thought of as an Abstract Expressionist, but he found the term problematic, arguing, “Painting, or any other art form, is not about self-expression. This idea, which has spread somehow, is simply not true. And Abstract Expressionism itself is often thought of as some wild expression of the self, of emotion. This, again, is completely untrue. The last thing a painter thinks of is himself. Painting is truly a means of expressing the ineffable.”

Rice’s paintings are both unique to him and clearly a part of the Black Mountain College tradition. This exhibition of Rice’s paintings will be a first step in the process of rediscovering and adding his work to the history of modernist painting in America.

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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