John Taye: Recent Paintings and Sculpture, which is on display at the Boise State University Student Union Gallery through Sunday, Sept. 4, is like a maze. Freestanding walls lined with still-lifes in oil face all directions, creating paths with no inherent flow and allowing a viewer to take in the work any number of ways. Though the paintings are reason enough to navigate the exhibition of Taye's work, around several corners are acrylic boxes housing a sculpture--or several--so surprising in subject matter/medium contrast, they take a little longer to absorb and serve as kind of a reward.
After more than three decades teaching at Boise State, local artist and Boise State University Professor Emeritus of Art John Taye is a familiar face to many at the university. His paintings, though similar in texture and tone, range in subject matter enough to not only cause a casual viewer to wonder if they were all done by the same hand but to also have appeal to a wider audience than works with a more pinpoint focus might. Fruit, flora, women, landscapes, machinery, even other paintings fill the frames and highlight Taye's mastery of capturing an azure Idaho sky and a bouquet of exotic flowers as well as the rusted-out shell of an old truck or irrigation sprinkler.
"My style is ... classical realism or representational art, whatever you want to call it," Taye said, pointing to what he lightly called the "Canyon County alcove," paintings of rolling hills, lush fields and farm equipment. Taye's ability to capture a not-so-obvious appeal in the mundane is even more accentuated in his stunning sculptures.
Taye works in bronze and basswood, casting ethereal figures in the former, carving substantial items in the latter. In bronze, a dancer holds position forever and a nude floats for an eternity. In wood, apples defy gravity and eggs balance on concrete bricks. Through juxtaposing the delicate and durable, Taye elevates the banal to the beautiful.