Still Life Gallery

Roses and an Apple by Ron Marlett.

Still Life with a Sword - Billed Hummingbird by Ron Marlett.

Classical Still Life with Fauna by Ron Marlett.

Still Life with Lovebirds by Ron Marlett.

Still Life with Butterflies by Ron Marlett.

Night of the Plum Rose by Ron Marlett.

Fruits and Nuts by Ron Marlett.

 Ron Marlett has been producing works in the still life genre since the early 1990s, when he completed Roses and an Apple (1993). Since that time still life has become a key pillar of Ron's artistic expression. He has produced numerous, well-accepted examples in recent years, and continues to pust forth significant material, exploring the creative possibilities inherent in this fascinating form. 


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What is Art?
This essay was written by Ron Marlett as a requirement for one of his art classes at California State Universty, Northridge. The essay reflects Ron's belief that  art is a visual language that  lifts our spirits and  enriches our lives.

    For as long as there has been art, there have been critics arguing over what qualifies as art. Does the art mirror reality, or does it represent ideal beauty? Does art reflect great skill and craftsmanship, or is it a way for everyone to indulge in their creativity? Learning about the elements and principles of design helps us develop a critical eye about who is a trained artist and who is not, but does the knowledge of design help us define what art is? People are obsessed with comparing one thing to another, such as realistic art verses abstract art. Fans of realism claim that abstract artists are nothing more than monkeys let loose in an art supply store, and fans of modernism claim realistic artists are mere illustrators who lack skill and inventiveness to go beyond the boundaries of reality. To define what art is, it is important to understand why art comes into existence. There are three forces that bring art into our world; the need for people to create art, the need for people to see beauty, and the need for people to have meaning in what they see.
    The artist can be anyone in any culture who is applying their creativity toward producing objects that are desirable by the artist and the artist's patrons. The artist does not have to be famous in order to create desirable art. One of the most famous works in Western tradition is the marble sculpture Aphrodite of Melos (150 BC), yet the Greek artist who created the piece is unknown to art historians. Thousands of unknown artists from around the world , such as the Aztecs, Africans, and Indonesian cultures, have created beautiful works of art that gave its citizens a unique identity. Famous artists such as Katsushika Hokusai, Helen Frankenthaler, and Norman Rockwell, provided the world with individual perspectives on how they expressed creative genius. Many famous artists helped change the visual world we live in by creating imagery that went beyond the well-entrenched conceptions of art. All artists have one thing in common, and that is to create something beautiful that enriches the world they live in.
    Beauty has always been linked to how we think about art. Aesthetics is a philosophy that studies art and the nature of beauty. For many centuries, the nature of beauty was determined by Western traditions in regards to how well the artist imitated life. In the 20th century, the world became easily accessable to ethnologists who discovered that the concept of beauty differed in various cultures. In Tahiti, islanders live in a garden paradise that is filled with bright tropical colors. Bright color plays an extremely important roll in how Tahitians make aesthetic judgements on art. In Africa, the artists drifted away from art that illustrated the real world in favor of art that represented their metaphysical beliefs. The religious reality that Africans saw in their dreams became influential in how they developed critical opinions on art. Creating an aesthetic measuring stick based on international ideas of beauty can be helpful in understanding what art is, but there will always be an artist who wants to challenge society's rule book. In Quinten Massys' piece Grotesque Old Woman (1520), the artist created a beautifully rendered painting of an ugly old woman. When looking at the painting, it becomes obvious that the artist was interested in making a statement about human pride and vanity.
     Art has meaning to it. Even if an artist created a piece of art that had no conceptual ramifications embedded into its imagery, we would find meaning in it, because art inspires interpretations that are wide ranged  and diversified as our personal experience makes them. Art has multible or ambiguous meanings and may speak to individual viewers in different ways at different times in history. In Pieter Breughel's painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (1560), Breughel paints Icarus' death as an unenventful incident that no one notices. The artist trivializes the tragedy by placing Icarus in the far right side of the painting's background. Icarus is shown just hitting the water, and his legs and a tiny splash are all that can be seen of him. Breughel focuses his composition on painting farmers, fishermen, and sailors going about their business - people who are completely oblivious to Icarus falling into the ocean. Breughel's painting loudly proclaims, "A man dies and the world hardly blinks." Wystan Hugh Auden made a more generous interpretation in his poem entitled Musee des Beaux Arts (1938). Auden wrote the poem after seeing Landscape with the Fall of Icarus hanging in the Royal Museum in Brussels. The emotional impact the painting had on Auden enlightened him on how easy it is for people to become apathetic toward others who are suffering. Auden writes:

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the foresaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

    Breughel's painting of Icarus inspired Auden to think about the ugly side of humanity. In 1938, Nazis were in control of Germany and Auden was aware of Germany's hostility toward Jews. The ones who read Auden's poem Musee des Beaux Arts could have been inspired to participate in the destruction of Nazism in an attempt to prove Breughel wrong. Auden's emotional response to Breughel's painting of Icarus inspired Auden to create a poem that, in turn, helped his contemporaries make a choice between apathy and empathy in the wake of Nazi cruelty. Breughel's art had meaning that touched future generations beyond his century. Art communicates ideas through imagery that can be read as a visual language. Our first connection we make with the visual language is our natural attraction toward realistic art. Realism is easy to understand because the visual language uses imagery that is recognizable in the world we live in. Art becomes a form of entertainment where we learn to recognize the works of great artists. We learn about the artists' lives and the times in which they lived in. Art has a unique way of communicating through its elements and principles of design. Learning about elements and principles of design helps us to appreciate the modern movement that began in the late 19th century. It was never intended for modern art to replace realism and decorative art, but rather, add to the visual language that we already understand. With art education, the definition of art is widened to be inclusive of all human creativity so that when we visit an art museum, the inspirational experience of understanding the language of art's many styles will lift our spirits and enrich our lives.