Maugans and Utter at HEDGE Gallery

Breathing, Douglas Max Utter, oil on canvas, 2020

As we launch into the “new normal” of summer 2021, HEDGE Gallery artists Liz Maugans and Douglas Max Utter present brand new work in an exhibition titled AlmostREAL—paintings, printmaking and collaged drawings that examine heightened observation, sensitivity, expectation and the unbelievingness of our present time. They delve into the role of story-telling and explore how much of our experienced “reality” is really real.

Bad Form, Liz Maugans, print and mixed media, 2021

Liz Maugans’ recent work employs off-color puns and punch lines, reference cliches, wordplay, overheard banter, and graffiti tags. She continues to interpret the idea that word can be image and vice versa, balancing between pathos and wit in her earnest and brash mixed media paintings and collage prints. Maugans supplies sympathy with the human quandary, one that in its cutting irony is all the more sincere.

The mouse hole shape has been one that Maugans has fallen in love with, for its ever-shifting capacity to become a hill, an arch, a gravestone, or a portal of entry into a new way of thinking.

For Douglas Max Utter, the act of painting has focused on following threads in the complex web of images that surround us, whether we’re sheltering in place or doing something stupid in public. Utter found himself doing what many of us did in 2020—bingeing television programs, and much of his recent imagery is taken from cell phone screen shots of shows he’s watched. New characters emerging on the canvas are blending with other themes that have commonly influenced his work such as the great motifs of Christian iconography and Western painting.

Utter is working in oil, and much of the work created during the shutdown of 2020 and 2021 explores different facets of a developing imaginative network and an emphasis on old stories. Utter’s new paintings incorporate a lively color palette, and continue to draw from deep wells of history and spirituality—as he states, “in an attempt to make the present less evanescent, as it drinks from an older, greater spring.”