Press Release: Runyan Gallery show, March 2012


American Verismo: the Art and its Followers is the March exhibit in the Runyan Gallery sponsored by Oregon coast Council for the Arts.. Opening on March 2 with a reception from 5pm to 7pm, the show features two painters and a sculptor from Eugene who have worked together for a number of years. OCCA welcomes members and the public to meet the artists and enjoy refreshments. American Verismo continues through the 1st of April.


A painter since early childhood, Jerry Ross attended the Art Institute of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, the University of Buffalo, and the University of Oregon. "I have a strong interest in the "poetica del vero" schools of painting, mostly derived from Italian influences,” he states. “This can be translated as "the poetry of life or truth" and is associated with working directly from nature as in plein air painting, namely an appreciation of the oil sketch and alla prima (a direct attack) mode of painting which I apply not only to landscape but also to portraiture and figurative work."


In 1991,  Ross founded and co-organized the popular Salon de Refuses art exhibit in Eugene after his work was rejected from the Mayor’s Show. Later, Ross won both Mayor’s Choice in 2000 and the Juror’Award in 2004.  Ross was a visiting artist/scholar at the American Academy in Rome in late 2010, and won the opportunity to exhibit and a Gold medal in an art competition in Milan, Corsico, Italy in 2006. He has also shown in Rome, Bologna and Florence. . In 2006, he originated the "American Verismo" movement while teaching at the Maude Kerns Art Center in Eugene. His movement is inspired by the Italian I Macchiaioli and his own experimental work.


”American verismo is more poetic and linked to post-impressionism, the Milan-based Scapigliatura (‘wild hair’) movement, and the I Macchiaioli’s commitment to social issues,” Ross explains. “But like atelier realism, American verismo is associated with a painterly sketching style, use of broad brushstrokes, and the alla prima, “direct attack” technique of painting. It is also linked to al aperto (open air) impressionist-style landscape painting.”


John Bennington is “mostly from Oregon,” having moved many times as a child. He has lived in Eugene for more than two decades now with his wife and two grown boys. “Since childhood, however, I have been a sculptor,” he says. “It possesses me still. From my jewelry to life size works, the allure is in its invitation to lingering touch, together with its intrigue for the eyes…  Made from earthy things like rocks, metal, mud, and clay, it requires craft and heart.” He thanks the friends at Maude Kerns sculpture studio and Oregon artists for their company. Bennington says,” I feel the urgency to "grasp the instant" as the Italian I Macchiaioli did before the French impressionists even woke up. The American Verismo have revitalized it, but I must remind the viewer that the Greeks had the notion of "frozen motion" a couple thousand years ago.” He wants to carry on “the search of the ancient Greeks to find, reveal, and even glorify the beauty of the human form, but also to catch it unaware.” Bennington urges viewers to touch his sculptures.


Born in Dayton, Ohio, Patti McNutt moved to Eugene in 1985 where her first commercial art job was laying out The Oregon Coast Aquarium’s newsletter. She is a member of the Plein Air Painters of Lane County as well as Maude Kerns Art Center and the Emerald Art Center in Springfield. She has taken instruction from Sarkis Antkikajin, Mitch Baird, Kate Bollens, Mark Clark, Robert Gamblin, Susan Ogilvie, Farley  Craig and Craig Lasha. When Jerry Ross substituted for an instructor at Maude Kern’s Art Center about 10 years ago, she found that his American verismo style was a turning point in the “evolution of my growth as an artist.” She states,  I felt that the images in my head began to be better realized on the canvas and continued to sign up for his classes.”


McNutt paints commissioned portraits –of  humans as well as dogs, cats, horses and even llamas. She has shown in a variety of locations in the Eugene area including Zenon’s, Eugene Jazz Station, Cascade Manor and Maude Kerns Art Center, as well as other venues in Oregon, The Guistina Gallery on the OSU campus in Corvallis and the  Emerald Art Center in Eugene. Married to Mike McNutt, the couple has two grown sons. She says, “The Pacific Northwest continues to nurture my love of art and nature.”


The Runyan Gallery is located on first floor of the Newport Visual Arts Center, 777 NW Beach Dr, with plenty of parking in the Nye Beach Turnaround. Gallery hours are 11am to 5pm, Tuesday through Sunday. For additional information or to schedule a viewing when the gallery is closed, contact Sally Houck, OCCA VAC Director, 541-265-6569.






Oregon Veduta, painting by Jerry Ross. Painting is based on sketches made in Plein air but the painting is done in the studio.

The Girl on the Train, painting by Jerry Ross

La Conner, painting by Patti McNutt

Art0002, sculpture by John Bennington