The Grunwald Gallery opens its 2024 season with “Shared Spaces,” an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Eve Mansdorf and Tim Kennedy, long-standing members of the studio art faculty in the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design at Indiana University in Bloomington. Having taught at IU for a combined total of 52 years, the pair have made significant contributions to the field of contemporary, observational painting and the national reputation of Eskenazi’s painting area, and mentored thousands of emerging artists.

“Shared Spaces” offers an unusual opportunity to explore common ground and divergences between artists whose creative and personal lives have been closely interwoven for three decades. The exhibition will showcase drawings and paintings by both artists, comprising still-life, landscape, and interior subjects, with and without figural elements, based on direct observation. Bloomington’s bungalows and Victorian houses, silver maple trees, a local pool, and state parks have been sources for many of both artists’ paintings.

Mansdorf and Kennedy, who are married, earned MFAs within a few years of one another at Brooklyn College, where their respective studies with artists such as Lennart Anderson and Lois Dodd resulted in shared artistic sensibilities. Mansdorf has been on the faculty of the Eskenazi School since 1996, and Kennedy, since 2000.

The exhibition title also points to the seamlessness between the artists’ lived experience and their creative realm. A commitment to “painting from life” has often blurred the boundary between art and life so that what is lived is often what is painted in the artists’ work. Several of the houses that figure in both artists’ paintings started as studio spaces and later became the couple’s home. Lately, both artists have sought out public locations farther afield by reconstructing and synthesizing studies done onsite into studio paintings. A continual tension in these works emerges in balancing the lure of perceptual reality with the desire for invention.

Although we both paint recognizable subjects drawn from life, it would be too simple to categorize and describe the work by subject or image. Painting is a process, and the vitality of that process is what gives both the activity and the object meaning. The painting, the paint, and incremental perception tell us what is needed as opposed to simply being submitted to our wills. It is a process of growth and accretion rather than one of fiat or manufacture.

(Mansdorf and Kennedy)

Eve Mansdorf received a BA in psychology from Cornell University and an MFA in painting from Brooklyn College. She is an associate professor of painting at Indiana University-Bloomington, where she has taught since 1996. Mansdorf is known for large paintings of figures in interiors, still lives, and onsite paintings that draw from the landscape and neighborhood in Bloomington where she lives. Mansdorf paints perceptually and often her work is done close to home even when her “home” relocates to other countries and parts of the US. She has shown her work at First Street Gallery in New York and various venues in the Midwest.

Tim Kennedy received a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and an MFA in painting from Brooklyn College. Kennedy is a senior lecturer of painting at Indiana University-Bloomington, where he has taught since 2000. Kennedy paints the observed world. He embraces all the genres but has repeatedly returned to themes that include the figure in both domestic interior and landscape settings. He has exhibited his work with the still life group, Zeuxis, and has had numerous solo exhibitions at First Street Gallery in New York and exhibition spaces throughout the Midwest. His work has been reviewed in The New York Sun, The New York Observer, and the Indianapolis Star.