Artist James G. Davis was larger than life.

So were many of his paintings.

Davis, who passed away last September, created large-scale oils that drew the viewer in with the stories they told, the vivid colors used, and the compelling strokes.

Etherton Gallery opens a Davis retrospective, “Down at the Tower Bar,” with a 7-10 p.m. reception Saturday, Sept. 9.

Davis was a University of Arizona art professor and one of the early residents of Rancho Linda Vista, an artists’ colony in Oracle. His works are in museums and private collections around the world.

His art, such as “Tower Bar,” the piece referenced in the exhibit’s title, are packed with drama. “Tower Bar,” an impressive 141 inches by 72 inches, demands that you sit and study it, walk away, come back and study it again. You know these people, even if you don’t.

An Etherton release about the show says the painting “comprises a constellation of narratives in a single painting that tells the stories of the bar’s workers and patrons. … The painting is a social critique, and demonstrates the artist’s compassion for the characters he encountered as well as his ability to universalize his experiences for the viewer.”

The show looks at the paintings and prints that Davis made over four decades.

In galleries adjacent to Etherton’s main one will be works by Michael Chittock and Davis’ son, Turner G. Davis.

The exhibit continues through Nov. 11.

Etherton is at 135 S. Sixth Ave. More information at 624-7370 or ethertongallery.com.

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at kallen@azstarnet.com or 573-4128.