Gombert's art selected for prestigious Red Clay Survey

July 12, 2012
Contact: Chloe Kennedy, News and New Media Writer
865.981.8209; chloe.kennedy@maryvillecollege.edu

Two works by Maryville College Professor of Art Dr. Carl Gombert have been selected for “The Red Clay Survey: 2012 Exhibition of Contemporary Southern Art,” a major recurring regional competition sponsored by the Huntsville Museum of Art in Alabama. The exhibit runs through Sept. 16.

The works selected include two large paintings. One is a profile portrait of Dr. Bill Swann, associate professor of music and chair of the Division of Fine Arts at MC. The other is a portrait of Gombert’s friend, Jim Myers.

The Red Clay Survey “takes the pulse” of contemporary Southern art through the selection of work in all styles and media determined by jurors with strong national credentials. Established in 1988, the Red Clay Survey is open to established and emerging artists in 11 Southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Out of 1,400 entries, jurors selected 80 works by 61 artists from 10 states. The artists juried into the Red Clay Survey are selected through a two-stage process that involves reviewing photographs of works and then reviewing the actual works.

This is the third time Gombert’s work has been selected for the Red Clay Survey.

“I was really happy to get in the show again,” he said. “The Red Clay Survey is a prestigious review of contemporary Southern work.”

One of Gombert’s paintings selected for the show, “Jim (Alphabet Boy),” was also selected for a Red Clay Purchase Award and will become part of the museum’s permanent collection.

“This is a big deal and a real honor,” said Gombert, whose work is included in a number of public collections throughout the country. “The Red Clay Survey is an important show, and the Huntsville Museum of Art is a very important regional art museum, so for them to select my painting as something worthy of their permanent care is incredibly gratifying and satisfying.”

The 36-inch square oil and collage on canvas piece is a portrait of Gombert’s friend, Jim Myers, who is a singer-songwriter in Knoxville. Painted over a grid of textured items, including letters of the alphabet, stickers, stars and circles, the painting contains what Gombert calls “mystery bonus prizes” that reward diligent viewers.

“I don’t always know why I choose what I choose, but Jim had a really interesting face,” Gombert said. “He’s a real gentle soul, and yet he looks vaguely menacing, so part of the appeal for me is that dichotomy of someone who looks threatening and yet I know that he’s a very sweet and gentle person. It’s also that the head is three feet tall – four times the size of his head – which also makes it more menacing than a real head.”

Last semester, artwork by Gombert and MC Professor of Art Mark Hall was selected for inclusion in “White, Black & Shades of Grey,” a national juried exhibition sponsored by the South Shore Art Center in Cohasset, Mass.

Each professor had two pieces selected for the exhibition, which ran March 30 through May 6 and included art that offers “distinctive, imaginative imagery, across all media and within the range of ‘White, Black & Shades of Grey.’”

Hall has been in the last two “White, Black & Shades of Grey” shows and received an honorable mention two years ago. This year’s entries include wood engravings titled “Paradiso (St. Mark’s Vision of Paradise)” and “Purgatory, Part One,” which are part of his series of 17 prints that are an updated version of Dante’s Divine Comedie. The pieces will be part of his one-person show at the Clayton Center for the Arts next spring.

In the first piece, “I am the St. Mark, and my vision of Paradise includes artists, philosophers, and cultural institutions like White Castle Hamburgers that have influenced me,” Hall said.

Of the second piece, Hall said, “This section of Purgatory depicts souls arriving and the punishments for several sins. It is satire.”

This is the second time Gombert’s work has been selected for the show. He submitted two rubber stamp monotypes, one of which he described as a “gnomandala” – a “mandala made with lots of garden gnomes in it.”

This isn’t the first time Hall and Gombert have had work selected for the same exhibitions.

“Carl and I have been in a few shows together – from a regional exhibition in Charleston, W. Va., to a national print exhibition in northwest Georgia,” Hall said. “What we create is very different in style, but it shows the quality of art at Maryville College.”


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2014 semester is 1,213.