For Immediate Release | It Was Never Linear: Recent Painting, May 6–July 31, 2016

Lincoln, Nebraska—An exhibition celebrating abstraction in contemporary painting opens May 6 at the Sheldon Museum of Art. It was Never Linear: Recent Painting features selected works by twelve contemporary artists whose production demonstrates a primacy of the act of painting—gestural mark making and attention to surface material—over any true representation of form or figure. 

The exhibition was organized collaboratively by Wally Mason, Sheldon’s director and chief curator, and Aaron Holz, associate professor of art at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Attentive to the fact that many museum visitors and students have come to understand art history through a narrowly focused lens, the co-curators have assembled an exhibition that fosters reconsideration of the art historical canon by looking inclusively at artists who represent varied production.

“I want visitors to see the complexity and richness of paint as a language while supporting a new, more complicated narrative about painting’s current state and recent past,” said Holz.

The artists featured in the exhibition are testament to a nonlinear view of current art making that more fully embraces complexity in age, gender, ethnicity, and location. They are: Robert Bordo, JoAnne Carson, Dawn Clements, Lois Dodd, Michelle Grabner, Josephine Halvorson, Loren Munk, Joyce Pensato, Colin Prahl, Peter Saul, Barbara Takenaga, and Stanley Whitney.

“Although much of the work assembled was selected to resonate, there was a deliberate choice to have enough dissonance in the variety of works and artists selected that viewers will be challenged to make connections between artists and, ideally, argue for or against particular works,” Holz explained.

Mason concurs with his co-curator adding, “Although we are exploring the re-emergence of painting, we’re not looking at an aggregate, but are seeing the individual identity of each artwork and its comfort in jostling among its colleagues.”

It Was Never Linear continues a Sheldon tradition dating back to the 1880s of mounting regular survey exhibitions of recent contemporary art from around the country. Beginning May 20, a selection of objects acquired over the years from these exhibitions will be on view in Building a Legacy Collection: A Survey of Invitational Acquisitions.

Support for It Was Never Linear and its programming has been provided by H. Lee and Carol Gendler Fund. Additional support has been provided by the Ethel S. Abbott Charitable Foundation Exhibitions and Programs Fund, Dillon Foundation, Nebraska Arts Council, and Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

Sheldon Museum of Art houses a permanent collection of more than 12,000 objects in a landmark Philip Johnson building at 12th and R streets on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln City Campus. The museum is open free to the public during regular hours: Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Wednesday through Saturday,10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays. For more information, visit