Sam Cady Reality and Reverie
Sam Cady’s large scale, shaped canvas paintings often blur the boundary between painted illusion and the three-dimensional world that we inhabit. Remarkably, often it is not until you walk up close to the large, cut-out compositions that you can be sure that you are looking at a two-dimensional flat surface and not a three-dimensional sculpture, or a painting with pieces of the real thing fastened to it, or even the object itself.
This trompe l’œil (literally, fool the eye) is key to Cady’s realism, although in his hands this venerable technique serves as a playful means to an end rather than as a deliberate final product. In his shaped painting, “Ice Fishing Shanty, Moose Pond,” Cady has enhanced the effects of his trompe l’œil painting by cutting it out in the shape of the fishing shack, thereby eliminating its context. Through careful jigsaw work, he fabricates the wooden framework of such a painting to mimic the outline of the object or scene. He frequently adopts this compositional device to depict such structures and landscapes as an aluminum utility shed, a pitched tent, a mobile home, a peapod dinghy, a tree or a rocky coastal island; or to dramatically crop excerpts of buildings, highway underpasses, bridges, or a backyard woodpile.
Many of his paintings of familiar Maine subjects encourage us to imaginatively climb right in. “Snow Covered Dock,” for example, invites our visual entry at the floor of the gallery and leads us up the long walkway, blanketed by snow. This tall canvas seems to transcend the two-dimensional universe to deliver us to another time and place: we can imagine the freezing air entering our noses and our anticipation of the unknown at the end of the dock.
In Sam Cady’s art it is we, the viewers, who occupy the artist’s places and structures. We are engaged; we study the paintings, ponder the subjects as though seeing them for the first time, and provide our own context. Cady’s work beckons us to become the contemplative observers.
Sam Cady was born in Boothbay Harbor Maine in 1943. He received his BA from University of New Hampshire in 1965 and his MFA from Indiana University in 1967. He is currently an instructor in the Master of Fine Arts Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York.
His numerous solo exhibitions include: Caldbeck Gallery, Rockland, ME; Fujii Gallery, Tokyo and Osaka; Hampshire College, Amherst, MA; Holly Solomon Gallery, New York; Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston; Barbara Gilman Gallery, Miami Beach; Gwenda Jay Gallery, Chicago; Mary Ryan Gallery, New York; Capricorn Gallery, Bethesda, MD; Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ; and Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA.
His work is in the collections of Addison Gallery of American Art; The Peabody-Essex Museum; DeCordova Museum & Dana Sculpture Park; and Orlando Museum of Art.