The path which has led Ron Clark to his present position on the U.S. art landscape has been one somewhat outside the more conventional routes taken by many of today’s working professional artists. Instead of residence programs, juried shows, awards and grants, his history is characterized by years in the performing and visual arts, unique relationships with renowned artists, a solid academic pedigree and virtually instant success in art sales and patronage.
Born in 1948 in the small agrarian community of Idabel, Oklahoma (15 miles north of the Oklahoma-Texas border in the fertile Red River Valley), one summer morning as a child he wandered into a vacant bakery near his grandmother’s house and came upon a painter on a ladder working a mural-sized canvas. Fascinated with what he was witnessing, he sat on a bench and watched the artist work for several hours.
That artist – still one of Clark’s closest friends, advisors and confidantes – was Harold Stevenson, a Surrealist painter who rose to prominence while living in Paris during the 50’s. Discovered and represented by the renowned Parisian dealer Iris Clert (whose artists included the likes of Picasso and Yves Klein), Stevenson‘s exhibitions were attended by icons of European art such as Salvador Dali, Magritte and Tchelitchew, and his paintings were coveted by many noted collectors and are held in the most prestigious and exclusive collections in Europe. HIs debut in the New York avant garde was alongside Warhol, Lichtenstein, Oldenburg and others as part of the historic 1962 Sidney Janis Gallery show, The New Realists, hailed as perhaps the most important exhibition ever held on American soil.
Clark’s unique and chance encounter with this master oil painter not only proved influential to Clark’s multi-disciplinary future as an artist, but in fact established the foundations of a lifelong friendship with an important figure in the history of American art.
Gifted with drawing skills as a child, Ron Clark was born into an environment of music; his father was an amateur jazz pianist and his family tree includes a professional opera tenor, several concert violinists and a host of high level university music educators, including a current violinist with the L.A. Philharmonic and her husband, a composer of film scores in Hollywood. Clark himself studied piano for ten years, was an All State concert musician in high school, and later became an accomplished guitarist, performing on stage and in recording studios with working rock, blues and jazz groups throughout Oklahoma and Texas.
As an undergraduate student at the University of Oklahoma, Clark studied architecture and journalism, then turned to graphic design. After working several years in Houston as an Architectural Illustrator and in Dallas as a Graphic Designer, he moved to New York in ’87 and spent two years in the prestigious BFA program at Parsons School of Design, with concentration in Visual Communication and Modern Art History (early 20th Century European painting and sculpture).
Immersed in the New York art and design world, Clark worked in several Manhattan design studios, served as a gallery assistant for Stevenson on high-profile Park Avenue exhibitions, and helped support himself by doing portraits from live sittings, working in a refined, almost photo-realism style.
After Parsons, he returned to Dallas and worked several years in both advertising agencies and design studios as a Graphic Designer and Art Director, then as Creative Director and Copywriter for a small Dallas marketing firm where he designed magazine ads, wrote ad copy and designed international trade show exhibition booths and graphics for various clients in the hotel and tourism industry. It was this high-profile, demanding position that provided the platform for Clark's ambition and skill as a visual artist and writer to flourish, propelling him into the next phase of his professional and personal life.
In 1995, Clark began creating Pitturas Metaphysica, a series of large oil paintings (up to 84”x96”) combining minimalist imagery with themes based in spirituality and Eastern philosophy. This series began exhibiting in 1997 with a one-man show at Southwest Gallery in Dallas, generating immediate and sustained sales to private collectors and corporate buyers throughout the region.
Clark’s 2000 series, Body of the Diagram, drew from his affinity for early modernism, neoteric architectural design and anatomical form. Characterized by dramatic imagery, ambiguous relationships between form and space, sensuous shapes and a rich, vibrant palette, works from this series were critically lauded and selected for exhibition in The Dallas Critics’ Choice Show 2001 at the Dallas Center for Contemporary Art, curated by Steve Nash, director of the renowned Nasher Sculpture Center.
In 2006/07, Clark established The Main Contemporary, a sophisticated downtown Dallas gallery located in the Dallas Roof Gardens building. Serving as director and artist-in-residence, he curated a number of rotating shows and exhibited his work as well as that of several other artists of national and international reputation, including Harold Stevenson, Seattle sculptor Joseph Kinnebrew, Dallas painter/filmmaker Michael McWillie. He also temporarily promoted and championed the work of noted Swiss painter Werner Jampen.
Impending Presence, a series of works which debuted in 2004 and evolved through 2010, exhibited throughout the U.S. at metropolitan and university museums and retail galleries, several of which were organized and promoted by Katharine T. Carter & Associates of New York. He served in 2011 as an exhibitor, consultant and advisory board member with Acquisition Art, an online artist resource and and gallery and featuring the work of various noted professional artists across the U.S. His current body of work, tentatively titled, 'Zen and The Line,' has been showing in New York, Chicago, Toronto and Miami, with a recent exhibition in Dallas at Cohn Drennan Contemporary.
Ron Clark is represented in New York by Walter Wickiser Gallery; in Austin, Texas, by Gallery Soco; in Indianapolis by 4-Star Gallery; and in Dallas by Cohn Drennan Contemporary. He currently lives in the Dallas area with his wife Sandy and three boys – Dane, Alexander and Nico – and divides his time between residences in Texas and coastal North Carolina.