Gwaltney’s work can be seen through Dec. 18 at the Peter Blake Gallery, 435 Ocean Ave., Laguna Beach, 949-376-9994, www.peterblake gallery.com.
The Cal State Fullerton alum is a longtime fixture on the county’s art scene. His newest work moves away from figures, which he has painted for more than 25 years, toward the abstract. New York has influenced him but “O.C. essentially formed me.”
Gwaltney starts with figures, which he quickly paints over with strong bands of color. Then he excavates the paint by scratching or drawing. “The content in abstraction is formal-how colors relate to each other, how a line or color relationship can be benign, aggressive, or somewhere in between.”
“The figure was losing importance in the overall feeling of the paintings. The figure is such a loaded element and carries so much baggage. An artist friend suggested working with straightforward abstraction, and it just seemed to be the right thing at this moment.”