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The UCF Art Gallery will host the work of five local artists Thursday at 6 p.m. as part of a large-scale abstract painting series.

The "Valencia Five" will feature abstract paintings by Chris Robb, Cicero Greathouse, Jackie Otto-Miller, Paul Scarborough and Nancy Jay. Each of the featured paintings is a large-scale piece, ranging anywhere from 5 feet to 15 feet in size.

The show comes as the result of a long-term collaboration between UCF and Valencia Community College. Jackie Otto-Miller, a professor of art and the gallery curator at Valencia College, wanted a space in which to premiere the large-scale art she and her colleagues had created.

"I decided, well, why don't I make a proposal to UCF?" Otto-Miller said. "It's a beautiful gallery and it's a large gallery — I myself couldn't fill it because I knew I didn't have enough work. In my mind's eye I saw these other painters who could participate, so I made a proposal for a group exhibition of large abstract paintings."

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Otto-Miller will be displaying a piece entitled "Falling to Earth," which incorporates a series of yellows, grays and blues in thick, downward brushstrokes.

"It has the sense of pieces falling from top to bottom, sort of in a weightless sort of way," she said. "I see things fall in the springtime, sort of lazily from trees, in a meandering path to the Earth. My inspiration comes from the natural world and my own psychological and internal world — how the two mesh together."

Scarborough will be debuting a series of paintings inspired by his recent trip to New York City. He said that his work reflects the relationship of nature to the urban landscape, such as that of Central Park to Manhattan.

"It's very moody, very intense," Scarborough said. "Lots of expression. I think the best way to really describe it is landscapes that are abstract, but contain some sort of hidden figure-work."

Jay, a professor at Valencia, will be presenting her piece "Topographies of Distance." The 8-foot painting is done in a loose-canvas style, lending it the look of a tapestry. She said the painting was inspired by her trips to the coast of Sweden and the dichotomy she witnessed there between the cold Nordic coastlines and Florida's subtropical climes.

"I was just back from Sweden when I finished this painting," Jay said. "I was thinking about the contrast between Florida and Sweden: One [is] so southern and semi-tropical and the other [is] so northern and close to the polar circle. Florida is so flat and sunny; Sweden is rocky, and even its trees don't grow quite as tall at that altitude."

Robb, a UCF alumnus, will return to his alma mater to present a series inspired by the coastlines and colors of Florida. He said that working with such large-scale paintings presents a unique set of technical challenges.

"With abstract painting, you sort of keep pushing until you get it to a place that feels right," Robb said. "At that scale you're talking about months of work. All of the paintings I have in that show took months to complete."

Robb encourages UCF and Valencia students alike to come out to the show.

"I don't think people in the community realize that we have this sort of artistic resources around, so I'd really encourage people to come and see this show," he said. "It's a high-caliber show, almost like something you'd see in New York."

If you go ...

Date: Sept. 4 to Sept. 26

Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Location: Visual Arts Building

Price:Free

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