on ron clark

observations from L.A.

by peter frank

Trained in graphic design, architecture and music – as well as fine art – Ron Clark brings skill and sensitivity as a visual and spatial ‘composer’ to his paintings, whether figurative or abstract, hard- or soft-edged, shadowy or luminous. He plays with light – its reflectivity, its obscurity, its brilliance – to bring out details the eye would otherwise miss and to imply states of being such as attraction, repulsion, stillness, motion, even reason or impulse. There exists a delicate balance in this new work, not just between the definite and the indistinct, the precisely-edged and nebulous, but also of the known world and the unknown.

Clark is an attractive and articulate interview subject; thoughtful yet direct in his comments, with a ready sense of humor and refreshing modesty. As a young boy in his native Oklahoma, he had the good fortune to wander one day into the studio of well-known New York painter Harold Stevenson – an occasion Clark regards as the moment he began to take art seriously as a calling, and Stevenson has been both friend and mentor ever since.

Other significant influences on Clark include the great eccentric architect (and Frank Lloyd Wright acolyte) Bruce Goff, at whose namesake architecture school at the University of Oklahoma Clark studied before moving to New York to pursue art and design as a career. The tenets of Zen Buddhism and the rhythms and improvization of post-war American jazz have also been instrumental in shaping his sensibilities and notions about awareness, expression and the artist's life.


Peter Frank is Editor of THE magazine Los Angeles, and Senior Curator at the Riverside (CA) Art Museum. He formerly served as art critic for Angeleno Magazine and The L.A. Weekly, and Editor of Visions Art Quarterly. Previously, in his native New York, Frank served as art critic for The Village Voice and The Soho Weekly News. He has organized and assisted with numerous theme and survey exhibitions for such prestigious institutions as the Guggenheim Museum, Independent Curators, Inc., The Alternative Museum; the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid; Documenta in Kassel, Germany; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Otis Art Institute of Los Angeles. Most notable is his “19 Artists: Emergent Americans,” the acclaimed 1981 Exxon National Exhibition mounted at The Guggenheim Museum in New York. Frank has also published numerous books and catalogues, including New, Used & Improved: Art for the 80s, Something Else Press: An Annotated Bibliography, and monographs on artists including Donald Roller Wilson and Robert DeNiro, Sr.