Robert P. McChesney 60 Year Retrospective of Bay Area Master of Abstraction

Calabi Gallery

Apr. 22, 2017, 04:00 pm

456 Tenth Street
Phone (707) 781-7070

Robert Pearson McChesney (1913-2008) had a long and distinguished career as one of the Bay Area’s preeminent abstract painters. After completing his studies at Washington University and Otis Art Institute, he was employed painting murals for the Federal Art Project in San Francisco. As a merchant marine seaman during World War II, he spent his free time on board painting watercolors. His onshore time in New Guinea and Okinawa exposed him to the indigenous art of the region, which influenced a shift from the euro-centric styles taught in the art academies.

His work continued to evolve in the ferment of the so-called “Period of Exploration” (1945-50). The California School of Fine Arts was ground zero for the explosion of creativity following the war, with faculty including Ed Corbett, Hassel Smith, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still. “Mac” taught serigraphy there, and described the atmosphere as informal and collegial, unlike his schooling.

By 1955, with the “Slip Sheet Series,” Mac had found a manner of painting which persisted for most of his career. Influenced by abstract expressionism, he would loosely “create chaos.” As an inherent perfectionist though, he would then “bring order to chaos” by editing out the messes and refining by adding carefully orchestrated new elements. Mac died in 2008, leaving behind a remarkable body of work.

Calabi Gallery represents the Robert P. McChesney Estate and will be showing a 60 Year Retrospective of his paintings, prints, and drawings, with examples of all styles and periods. There will be an opening reception Saturday, April 22nd from 4-8pm. The exhibition will run from April 22nd – June 17th, 2017.

Calabi Gallery.

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