Check Out Monroy’s Photoshop Realism

For a little diversion, drive through the Caldecott and check out what artist Bert Monroy has been doing lately.  An exhibit of his digital paintings opens tomorrow at the Hearst Art Gallery, St. Mary’s College (map) – and the artist presents a photoshop demo on Sunday, at 2pm.

Monroy’s artwork looks amazingly realistic and, at first glance, seems to be based on snapped photos which have been digitally enhanced.  When you look more closely, you realize Monroy creates place-portraits.  “I consider myself a hyper-realist because my paintings are in focus everywhere you look,” he explains.

As a preview of the Hearst exhibit, take a quick peek at the Fox Theater in Oakland painting below.  Monroy pays homage to this newly-refurbished entertainment palace, and makes the place come alive.

Fox Theater - Bert Monroy

Another Monroy painting caught my attention as well, which captures a lunch scene in Tiburon.  I’m guessing this is an outdoor table at Sam’s Cafe, located near the Angel Island Ferry.  Even the typical condiments and drinks look fascinating here.

Lunch In Tiburon - Bert Monroy

Although this kind of digital art is only possible in the modern era, it makes me think about American photo-realism over the years.  There’s a fine tradition here in the Bay Area, especially with Robert Bechtle.  A few years ago, the SFMOMA exhibited a retrospective filled with rooms of his California dreamin’ paintings.  Here is a perfect example of a classic mid-1970s car, parked in Alameda.

Rather than snapping photos, these artists are attracted to depicting common life with their own brushes – and we all like to look at their artistic efforts too.  With this new twist from photoshop, I wonder what kinds of things artists will create and how their work will be exhibited in the real world.

Bert Monroy’s one of the earliest artists on this digital bandwagon.  “This [exhibit] is a retrospective, so it traces my work back to the MacPaint days of 1984,”  says Monroy.  “It moves forward to early Illustrator, PixelPaint and so on.”  To see how the evolving tools impact his work, put the Hearst Gallery on your “must-do” list.  The exhibit opens tomorrow and runs through April 5th.