Villanova, PA – When Rev. Richard G. Cannuli (O.S.A.) visited painter Timothy Sanchez in his Vero Beach, Florida, home last year, he immediately knew he wanted Sanchez's abstract expressionistic paintings hanging in the Villanova University Art Gallery as soon as possible. “His work is remarkably beautiful,” notes Rev. Cannuli, who also chairs the University's Theatre Department, curates Villanova's art collection, and is himself an artist.
And so it came to be. An exhibit of 14 of Sanchez's large scale works (one measures eight by seven-and-a-half feet) opens Friday, April 16, with a reception to meet the artist from 5 to 7 pm in the art gallery in the Connelly Center on the Villanova campus. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. Entitled 'Timothy J. Sanchez: Abstract Expressionistic Paintings', the exhibit continues to May 20.
To those just a tad tired of the recently departed long, harsh winter, the incandescent, sunlight-inspired colors on canvas that Sanchez brings north come none too soon. “It is as if Sanchez . . . has broken apart the spectrum of tropical sunlight, plucked out the most exhilarating bands and applied them exuberantly,” notes reviewer Michelle Genz, in a recent issue of Vero Beach 32963, Sanchez's home-town newspaper.
A transplanted Long Islander, Sanchez's Florida palette of colors is significantly different from his previous northern one. “It got much lighter and brighter,” says the artist of one effect of moving to Florida in 2001 following a distinguished career as an educator in the New York public school system.
An honored elementary and high school teacher and school district administrator, he worked ardently to advocate art as an integral part of the curriculum of the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District on Long Island. He is especially proud of his work to establish school-based art galleries for exhibiting the work of kindergärtners through 12th graders. They proved so successful that Sanchez was asked to show teachers across New York how to establish galleries in their schools.
For 35 years, his students came first. Even though Sanchez had to carve out time for his own art, he managed to build a reputation of note. Among his notices for that period is a 1991 review in the New York Times of a solo exhibit of atmospheric paintings, one of the most ethereal of subjects for an artist to credibly capture. Wrote reviewer Helen A. Harrison:
The artist's objective “is only achieved if his audience can recognize and relate to the phenomenon in question. And how effectively did Mr. Sanchez evoke that recognition? Very effectively, indeed . . .the fundamental character of moisture and sunlight are firmly established.”
Sanchez remains forever grateful to his high school art teacher, Ida Shimans, for inspiring him to become a teacher. “I chose the profession to give back what I was given. If you have the ability and the opportunity, I feel you should extend a helping hand.” He kept in touch with Ms. Shimans, a one time president of the New York State Art Teachers Association, until her death at 92 in 2003.
For his work in the classroom and as an administrator, Sanchez was honored as 1988 'Teacher of the Year' by the National PTA and 'Long Island Educator of the Year' for 1998 by Hofstra University's chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, the premier professional association for educators.
Today, he spends at least four hours daily working in his home studio. “An artist doesn't get better unless he paints,” he notes. For an abstract expressionist, this means attention not only to creating the work, but providing evidence of the artist's working style in the creative process. “It is the artist's hand that gives the work its aesthetic feeling, its sense of action and movement. The more the viewer is given to see, the more expressive the work becomes. If the painting is flat, you see the image without the energy invested in it,” he says.
Often, he starts a painting with a composite of a landscape from his sketch book. Geometric forms are a frequent motif. “With abstraction,” explains Sanchez, “the idea is to take from some real thing, and I do use natural elements for the basis of my work. But you don't see that landscape when I'm done. It's just a starting point.” If for the viewer, the image that emerges from the layers of paint, vibrant colors, lines, shapes and brush strokes is a landscape, then that's what it is – at least for that person.
Unbidden and done as an exercise, a painting by Sanchez of the late, great actress Bette Davis made the cover of People magazine. His brother had thought it good enough to present to Davis, who liked it so much she had it prominently hung in her apartment in the Lombardy Hotel in New York City. In the People cover photo, Davis is looking at the camera with the larger than life painting looming over her shoulder. In her will she left it to the actor Robert Wagner.
Sanchez earned a master's degree in fine arts from Long Island's C.W. Post College, a bachelor of science degree from State University College of Buffalo, NY, and a Professional Diploma/Educational Administration by Brooklyn College.
The Villanova University Art Gallery is open weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm. For weekend and extended hours, and other information, telephone the Art Gallery at (610) 519-4612. Selected works for Mr. Sanchez's exhibit may be previewed on the gallery’s website at www.artgallery.villanova.edu.