"Accumulus" and The Return of Joseph Patrick Arnegger

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BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY DEC 14, 2018

It started with a whisper.

He’s back,” they’d say, heads close and speaking softly, as though to pronounce the thing could banish the thing. Still, whisper turned to talk, and talk turned to rumor. All the same, no one could know for sure the truth of it. But tonight, at GAZE Modern, rumor becomes fact with the opening of Accumulus, the first Sarasota solo exhibition in years from painter Joseph Patrick Arnegger. He’s back.

A Ringling College grad and co-founder of the SARTQ artist collective, Arnegger has made his mark on Sarasota since arriving in 1990, but sometimes life gets in the way. And in between getting married, starting a family and raising children, Arnegger began to notice a lot of paintings and projects hanging around the house, “half-finished and half-realized.” So when GAZE Director Tim Jaeger reached out to his old friend about putting together a show, Arnegger saw opportunity for some artistic catharsis. “It felt right,” he says. “I’m just hoping they know that I’m still here.”

Not a retrospective, Arnegger says, Accumulus represents to him something more of a clearing house for the artistic mind, a “palate cleanser” before taking the next step. Audiences will get a glimpse of the artist’s work and sensibility over time, yes, but the focus, for the artist, is on moving forward more than it is looking back. In this sense, Accumulus refers as much to the accumulated nature of the work over time—and the disparate materials Arnegger uses as canvas—as it does the cloud motif identified almost after the fact.

Still, the cloud remains important—a resonant symbol to attempt an encapsulation of Arnegger’s artist mind. “My work is almost always about memory, unrecognized beauty and a little bit of nostalgia,” he says. “And what could be more representational of that than the ephemera of a cloud?” Clustered on the walls of the gallery, painted on squares and rectangles of all sizes, viewers will find those clouds, but also much more, as they dive further into Arnegger’s freeform psyche. Compositions and arrangements hint at hidden meanings, with floating symbols and hastily scrawled script asking more questions than it seems they could ever answer. Here flowers; there a floating hat. Here a woman in an old-timey swimcap and there a teacup floating in the ocean, but no storm in sight.

“It’s about me and my conversation with the materials and the mark-making,” says Arnegger, advising against audiences looking for some grand conclusion. “It’s more about the journey than it is the destination.”

And the artist is already moving forward. “It’s been kindling for a new fire in my work and life,” he says.

Accumulus opens tonight at GAZE Modern, with a reception at 5pm.

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