Once they’d thought about it, Steven DaLuz and Pam Hawkes turned out to be pretty concerned about men. In fact, the two artists had very similar man-related worries, which they have now committed to a large charcoal drawing (his) and oil painting (hers) for the exhibit now showing at the Kwan Fong Gallery of Art and Culture.
Of the dozen painters and one sculptor who have contributed works to “The Man Show,” which runs through April 18, DaLuz and Hawkes probably are the artists least accustomed to male subjects. Setting aside abstract works by DaLuz with no human figures at all, both of these accomplished artists nearly always paint women. That’s why the request from art professor Michael Pearce, curator at the Kwan Fong, to say something about 21st-century men through their art set both of them thinking.
An Air Force veteran who lives in San Antonio, DaLuz thought about the struggles of men today in their 20s to “find a sense of direction” amid poor job prospects and “conflicting messages” about masculinity: “You know, ‘Don’t be macho. Don’t be a wimp,’” said DaLuz.
Similarly, Hawkes, reached by telephone at home in Birmingham, United Kingdom, observes “a generation of lost men” in her country. “Girls in school, at university, et cetera, are doing so much better, and there doesn’t seem to be the same sort of roles now, a defined role for men,” she said.
|You’re everywhere and nowhere, babe., Pam Hawkes, 40 by 40 inches, oil on copper gilding on canvas||Searching, Steven Daluz, 46 by 32 inches, charcoal on paper|
|The gaze, though direct, gives little away. Hawkes takes inspiration from old religious iconography: “People who were viewing that would put their own feelings into it, and their own wishes and hopes and fears.”||The figure looks down and away from the viewer “so what you see is a tough exterior, yet his physical posture communicates a kind of vulnerability,” said DaLuz.|
|“He doesn’t belong to any century. You’re not quite sure whether he should be outdoors with the hunter’s hat and that’s his role, or indoors.”||“The jeans he’s wearing and the tattoos speak to the time that we live in. I don’t think I know a man between the ages of 18 and 30 who doesn’t have a tattoo.”|
|“I feel he is trapped. There’s neither a time nor a place for him.”||“He’s introspective, considering his direction in life.”|
|“There’s flowers going through his clothes, going everywhere. I love using image and text. I left the text off the ribbon because I wanted one little bit that was quite plain.”||“There’s nothing in the background to give you any contextual narrative. I did that intentionally.”|
|“Because I mainly just paint women, I really had to sit down and think exactly what I wanted to do with it.”||“I just naturally tended to use female models more than men. I never gave it any conscious thought before being invited to this.”|