RNG Gallery and Dixie Quicks will host an artist talk with ceramic sculptor Richard Chung this Friday that promises to satisfy both your aesthetic and palate.

During a French-themed dinner at 8 p.m., Chung will converse with guests about his current exhibit in the gallery, New and Recent Works, that feature not only his signature dramatis personae, but also a series of pastel drawings of same.

Following a reception in the gallery with wine and hors d’oeuvres, the dinner begins with lentil soup and three main course options: Chicken Pernod, Steak Au Poivre, or a vegan Ratatouille (a mix of pasta, seasonal vegetables, garlic, and olive oil).

Each course will be served with a paired French wine. Dessert will be creme brûlée or sorbet with fruit and French roast coffee. Cost is $60 per person and reservations can be made by calling 712-256-4140.

The RNG exhibit, which continues till through June 25, represents an important change or direction in Chung’s career, one that he says he readily welcomes.

“This show at the RNG gave me total control—self-curated…essentially self-everything,” he said. “This was a great exercise in having my hand in every part of the process. The show for me has been, as any personal “big deal” event usually is, exciting, nerve-racking, stressful and fun.”

Adding to the challenge was his need to stretch, to work outside a comfort zone and to differentiate between “style and formula.”

“I have presented some of my newer attempts at expanding my visual vocabulary and compositions,” Chung said. “The presentation of the ‘Glaze Painting Series’ as well as the pastel drawings are the first public showing of this type of work.”

Regardless of the evolution in media and process, Chung’s evocative character studies still, gratefully, reveal a certain fondness for his subjects that make them intimate and vulnerable despite a deliberate lack of detail. The viewer can’t help imposing his own narrative thus “completing” the association and work itself, which the artist says he gets.

“Over time I find myself in favor of creating work that offers more ambiguity than a definitive purpose or statement,” he said. “I feel as if I am blurting out words and fragmented sentences with my art. Art being a form of communication, I do relish in the different interpretations of the work. My consumption of the feedback becomes the beginning ingredients of the future work to be made— whether I like it or not.”

As for his own aesthetic, both emotional and reserved, Chung says he is “most influenced by the expressionists. The mark-making that clay allows gives a unique record of the process. When there is evidence of how quickly, how hard or soft, marks are made– this can be seen as story telling in itself.

I find that pastels have a similar quality with clay in their immediacy. I tend to find myself favoring direct touch/contact with the medium for much of the process.”

This Friday the artist will favor his patrons with that same approach over a glass of French wine and fine dining, thus becoming willing members of his coterie.

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