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Chris Scharnick: State of Normality

My final graduate thesis show review at Fresno State is over a year since the first post on the subject. I couldn't think of a more gratifying way to end the series.

If you don't know who Chris Scharnick is, you will after seeing just one of his technique-driven canvases. I was lucky to work side-by-side with Chris in the studios of the Connelly art department from my first day as an undergrad to my last day as a grad student. I had the distinct honor, or maybe better described as a nerve-racking catastrophe of following Chris' show with my own grad show!

I've often talked with professors and other students on how Chris works. He's been described as a machine, a type-writer and a freak - all admirable and flattering adjectives. He would arrive at 10 AM, and work until 1 or 2 AM, only eating from a cold can of pork-&-beans or tuna fish, never dropping a brush. He would do this for weeks on end. Perhaps even more amazingly, he uses only a sparse amount of solvent (if any) on his actual canvases and paints completely dry.

Chris' show is an inner examination of his family's rampant symptoms and multiple diagnoses of the neurotic disease schizophrenia. Both sides of his family have the disorder and his mother and aunt are quite severely effected from his own reports. He and his brother Dustin worry that their own futures may be brought to a premature and unstable end by the disorder. You can see the chilling environments in the paintings which were excruciatingly reproduced from family Polaroids. Most of these larger-than-life size pieces were made from a 3x5" or smaller, badly faded photographs and reiterate Chris' dedication to his theses and work ethic. Many brand him as a photo-realist but having seen him create nearly this entire set from just across the studio, I think that is a bit of a misnomer. He is an able and studious artist. To label him otherwise, is an insult to everything he hopes to capture for future preservation.