Asheville-native J. Stone Roberts understands the appeal that can arise from unexpected combinations. He uses these constructed juxtapositions to great effect in his realistically painted but imaginary scenes of figures and still lifes. On first examination Roberts’s paintings project a rich attention to detail and mastery of materials, elements that would not be out of place in traditional Renaissance paintings or Dutch still lifes. Upon closer inspection eccentricities and surprises are revealed, such as the kitchen timer that almost anachronistically disrupts what appears to be a traditional still life.
—Tom Schram, preparator at the Asheville Art Museum
Lemons, Lilies, and Gourds by Roberts is one of my favorite still lifes I’ve come across while exploring the Museum. The color palette is rich yet simple, allowing for the fine features of each object to shine through. Roberts meticulously defines the seeds of the halved gourd and adds delicate spots to each lily. Likely cut with the knife laying on the table, the halved gourd and lemons are cleanly sliced. The patterned tablecloth and draped napkins accent the setup without outshining the main subjects. The colors are all so coordinated, which is pleasing to the eye. With its lighting, this painting reminds me of a late summer evening. The sun warms the fruits and vegetables, and reflects off the metal spoon, knife, and ice bucket. My eye is especially drawn to the ice bucket and how the yellow of the lemons is masterfully mirrored and distorted. Even though it is clearly based in reality, this painting somehow feels dreamlike. Being an artist myself, I love to see how others approach still lifes because they can be quite boring if not thought out. I feel as though this work is extremely successful; no wonder it’s hanging in a Museum.
—Sophie Kettles, summer 2021 intern