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The GENUS Series to open at the Elzay Gallery

February—Could art be the missing link? Oxford, Ohio, native John Bavaro would probably say yes. His current exhibition in the Elzay Gallery of Art at Ohio Northern University uses both traditional and digital painting to examine the similarities between humans and non-human primates.

“The GENUS Series: Human and Non-Human Primate Portraits Genus” is on view from February 27 through March 30, 2012. The exhibit is “an emerging series of primate portraits, both human and non/human, painted from observations and photographs I’ve taken at various zoos or from posing models,” said Bavaro.

It’s often said that apes or monkeys look “so human,” and when one sees a mother orangutan, protecting and coddling her clinging newborn, or a father gorilla gently roughhousing with an adolescent son, it’s hard not to apply anthropomorphisms to the situation. “Those perceptions come from our own human frame of reference,” explained Bavaor, “but it’s obvious that the animals are exhibiting behaviors that are very close to what we exhibit, or having “feelings” that are seemingly similar to ours.”

This exhibition is a large panel installation consisting of 100 oil paintings of human and ape portraits. The portraits depict friends, relatives, apes and monkeys placed together on the same wall.

Prof. Bavaro is an associate professor of art at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania where he teaches painting, drawing, design and is the gallery director of the Bruce Gallery of Art. He received his BA in literature from Miami University and his  MFA (painting) from the University of Cincinnati.

Inspired by both science and technology, Bavaro sets out to chronicle the natural world using both human and animal subjects. His GENUS series draws upon classical references such as Velazquez, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Rubens and Caravaggio to bring the ape-nature out of the humans and the human nature out of the apes.

Most recently, Bavaro has taken to  “fingerpainting” on the Apple iPhone and iPad by painting in a variety of art apps on the small screen and then outputting the pieces to his printer. His work has appeared in New American Paintings, Dialogue-Voicing the Arts, The Artist’s Magazine, Time Out (Dubai) and two recent national iPhone art catalogues. He is one of the founding members of iAMDA (The International Association of Mobile Digital Artists) and is currently writing a book about iPhone and iPad art for Quintet Publications of the U.K.

Ohio Northern offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts with concentrations in two-dimensional, three-dimensional and pre-art therapy. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education, AIGA: The Professional Association for Design, and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the second and third editions of “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design or the University’s 2011–12 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.