Dennis McGonagle's Art Murals
Dennis McGonagle creates art murals inspired by a variety of 20th century art movements and artists. "I look to George Bellows, John Sloan, and the Ashcan School," he says. "I also mix in American Scene paintings of Edward Hopper and Charles Burchfield." (See History of Modern Art.) Dennis adds, "I am guided by the advice of James Doolin who said, 'Your paintings need to be strong on the abstract level, clear on the descriptive level, and mysterious on the narrative level.'"
In the spring 2011, Dennis completed an art mural at West Whittier, California Elementary School. "With the help of 10 painter-friends, I painted the 500 square foot mural entitled, College Bound," he explains. "The mural includes a scene of an ideal classroom where students are eagerly engaged in learning. On the whiteboard in front of them are mathematical equations and a quote reading, 'Never be defeated.'
"Above the white board are paintings by van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, and Keith Haring," he continues. "The art mural shows that including arts education in the school curriculum is vital to inspire and reach the students. Other scenes show Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, California and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, representing west and east coast colleges." (Dennis exhibited his work at Soka University's Founders Hall Art Gallery in 2006.) The central section of the painting shows a giant planet earth in the middle of an energized field of color. The words, 'College Bound' pass in front of the earth like a rainbow comet.
Dennis has painted more than 20 art murals and numerous paintings, adorning the walls of schools, businesses and homes throughout Southern California. About a recent painting, he explains, "I painted it in the late afternoon when the last rays of the sun came dancing across the lawn. The neighbors were out walking their babies and dogs. Billowing clouds came drifting by. A cool breeze blew the leaves down the street.
"I like the sensory bombardment - the shifting light, the random sounds coming from houses and cars, the conversations with people that pass by on the sidewalk. All of these elements find their way into my paintings that are visual diaries or series of moments. I notice something different in the landscape every time I set up my easel. One day it will be the play of light on a fence, the next day I will focus on the color contrast between bricks and grass."
In 2010, Dennis McGonagle was nominated for a Whittier Area Music Center annual BRAVO Award; it honors teachers and schools that use the arts to revitalize teaching, enhance student achievement and foster self-esteem, teamwork and cross-cultural communication and understanding.
Enjoy Dennis' YouTube video.
Dennis recently completed a series of paintings that he calls "The Auburn Suite." Here is his statement about these works: "The paintings in this series grew out of a commission to paint a single landscape of a rambling ranch in Auburn, California. Passing through the gate of the ranch, the amazing beauty of the landscape transported me to a whole new world. The ranch house is the cornerstone of the series, quickly joined by its surrounding trees, hills, birds, and animals. The local movie theatre in nearby Auburn, and a group of giant roadside statues also found their way onto my canvas. Upon seeing this new combination of natural and man-made elements, color emerged as the most important compositional element in the artwork. I applied multiple layers of saturated color to capture the strong sunlight and the wide-open spaces enveloping the ranch. I juxtaposed color opposites to heighten the energy level of the pieces. Yet still, some of the paintings evoke quiet moments, demanding cool blues and violets to describe the deep shadows, and neutral colors to create transitions between warm and cool areas."
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