Robert Stackhouse builds his sculptures using common materials: sturdy wooden beams and delicate slats he cuts, nails, and bolts into curving wails, sinuous A-frames and boat-like artifacts. These familiar materials and images turn richly ambiguous as he explores affinities between architecture and biological anatomy. In Stackhouse's sculptures, and the paintings and works on paper they motivate, slats scattered across the shell of a hull-like sculpture might resemble bones; a boat keel assumes the appearance of an exotic plant, as patterns and colors shift and merge. Viewers are thus encouraged to identify with these lone figures in their looming densities of color and texture, to be mindful of our mutual passage through time, our being in space. Stackhouse's sculptures and paintings invite us into a "place," simultaneously composed of tenderness and darkness. His works urge us from comforting familiarity into a stimulated awareness of the discrete nature of our lives. Pressed by shadow and battered by winds of time and change, yet they linger, these forms are testaments to their own individual strengths and the constancy of human endurance.
This exhibition offers a comprehensive overview of Stackhouse's life and work from 1969 to the present. It traces the importance of the artist's distinctive early life and his experiences in Manhattan and in Yonkers; at Peach Lake, N.Y.; at Lundy's fish camp near Auburndale, Fla.; and at the University of South (Florida. All are considered as influences upon the development of his iconic images including the serpent, the ship and the open-form, lath-sided architectural structures that have marked his oeuvre. A significant number of the works draw from the substantial scholarly knowledge of nautical vessels incorporated in painting and sculpture. This collection allows study of the artist's significant ties to the culture of South, specifically to the culture of central Florida and the Gulf Coast region.