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 Sean Sexton  (late 20th century)

About: Sean Sexton


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Lived/Active: Florida/New Mexico      Known for: daily life still life objects and landscape painting, ceramic

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Biography from Valley House Gallery & Sculpture Garden:

1973-1975 Santa Fe Community College, Gainesville, FL AA degree
1976-1979 University of Florida, BS degree

One Man Exhibitions

2000 Allegory of Work, South Florida Community College Gallery, Sebring, FL
1999 Sean Sexton, Still Life, Pilcher Gallery, Gulf Coast Museum of Art, Bellair, FL
1998 Sean Sexton, Recent Paintings, Florida Collector's Gallery, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
1994 The Passing Days, Indian river County Main Library, Vero Beach, FL
Song of the South, Heuser Art Center, Bradley University, Peoria, IL
1992 Live at the Capitol, Florida State Capitol Building, Tallahassee, FL
1989 A Sense of Place, Florida Gallery, Center for the Arts, Vero Beach, FL
Florida Observed, McAlpin Fine Arts Center, Indian River Community College, Ft. Pierce, FL

Selected Group Exhibitions:

2002 Beyond the Apple and Bottle: Still Life Invitational, Valley House Gallery, Dallas, TX
2001 Messages from the Land, LeMoyne Foundation, Tallahassee, FL
1999 A Lasting Partnership: works from the permanent collection of the Center for the Arts, Vero Beach, FL
Curator's Choice, Legacy II, Brevard Museum of Art and Science, Melbourne, FL
Open Spaces/Private Places, The Armory Art Center, West Palm Beach, FL
1998 Made in Florida: Works from the Permanent Collection by Florida Artists, Center for the Arts, Vero Beach, FL
Florida Realism, Santa Fe Community College Gallery, Gainesville, FL
Florida Biennial III, Gulf Coast Museum of Art, Bellair, FL
1997 In the Year of the Cow, Thomas Center Main Gallery, Gainesville, FL
1996 The Seven Wonders of Florida (with Hiram Williams), Seminole Community College Gallery of Fine Arts, Sanford, FL
1st Annual Small Works Invitational, Valencia Community College, Orlando, FL
1995 The Other Florida: A Paradise of Paradox, City Hall Art Gallery, Tallahassee, FL
Florida Drawing Invitational, Center for the Arts, Vero Beach, FL
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch (selected works from artist working at Treasure Hammock Ranch), AE Backus Gallery, Ft. Pierce, FL
1994 Dreams of Fields (with John Briggs and Hansen Mulford), Brevard Museum of Art, Melbourne, FL
1993 Symbols of Life (with Brad Smith), Santa Fe Community College Gallery, Gainesville, FL
1992 Realism: Selections from Florida Artists, Center for the Arts, Vero Beach, FL
1990 Florida Artists' Series #12: Still Life, Boca Museum, Boca Raton, FL
Common Ground (with Rene Guerin), Riverside Theatre Gallery, Vero Beach, FL


2000 Florida Individual Artist's Fellowship

Public Collections:

Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL
Bradley University, Peoria, IL
Vero Beach Center for the Arts, Vero Beach, FL
City of Orlando, Orlando, FL
Keep Florida Beautiful, Inc., Tallahassee, FL
University of Florida Foundation, Gainesville, FL
Indian River Memorial hospital, Vero Beach, FL

Biography from Crisp-Ellert Art Museum:
Following is descriptive text of an art exhibit of work by Sean Sexton at the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum, Flagler College, ST. Augustine, Florida.

Sean Sexton, Blood Writing, November 5 – 30, 2010

"This is your life,your storehouse of things –the dust, dirt and mildew your life attracts, on surfaces of the idle things of your life."
(Excerpt from the poem, “Your Life, Your Death” by Sean Sexton)

In conjunction with the Florida Literary Arts Coalition “Other Words” Conference and on the occasion of the recent release of his book of poetry entitled Blood Writing, the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum is proud to present a group of works by artist Sean Sexton.  The exhibition will include paintings, drawings, etchings and ceramic objects as well as writings that span the past 25 years of the artist’s career.

Sexton divides his time between painting, writing and taking care of his family’s 600-acre ranch near Vero Beach, Florida. These works contain images of the land, cattle, tools, fruit, vegetables, skulls and bones among others. Shown together they provide the viewer small glimpses into Sexton’s daily life and give a sense of his many years working in the Floridian landscape.

The artist often takes years to finish a painting in order to capture the effect of a certain time of day, or season.  This is apparent in one of his large canvases, entitled Spring Morning that depicts a stand of palm trees.  To the right we see a watering trough with cattle and in the distance a view of Sexton’s ranch.  The artist successfully conveys the feeling of being in the crisp air on a spring morning as the sunlight filters through the trees; a sense of stillness pervades everything.  In many of his paintings, Sexton takes his cue from the Hudson River School.  But his works depart from the pastoral landscapes of artists such as Thomas Cole and Martin Johnson Heade, whose monumental paintings often comprised of many scenes put together to create one idealized vision. Rather, Sexton’s views are intimate and extremely personal.

Another common subject for Sexton are the objects that show up in his daily life, particularly in his studio where he spends so much of his time.  In Allegory of Work, the artist has created an elaborate table setting of fruit, raw meat, animal skulls and tools of his trade such as barbed wire and part of a 60-year old fence-stretcher.  These are Sexton’s “storehouse of things,” the bits of every day detritus that give us a window into his existence.  Dutch still life painting from Northern Europe has clearly influenced the artist here, as he carries on the tradition of "vanitas", in which the objects presented serve as both symbols for the pleasures of life as well as the certainty of death. If the appearance of fruits and vegetables speak of the abundance of the land in which he is so closely linked, the skull and bones must also be a symbol for death that is always close at hand, or “present every moment,” as he writes in the poem Your Life, Your Death.

These paintings will be displayed alongside prints, journals with his daily musings, and raku-fired ceramic pieces made after objects that have accumulated in the artist’s freezer over the years. Each work serves as inspiration for Sexton’s writing practice, and has a corresponding poem.  Collectively, these works begin to tell us a story of the fullness of Sexton’s life as an artist, a writer and a rancher. His is a life that is full of hard work and labor, death and decay, but a life that also includes many quiet moments of beauty.

Sean Sexton lives and works in Vero Beach, Florida.  He has been included in exhibitions at the Gulf Coast Museum of Art in Largo, Florida and Creadle School of Art in Winter Park, Florida, among others.  His works can be found in the individual and museum collections throughout Florida, as well as at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.


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