Weiss' framed, vine charcoal works on paper depict stylized imagery crafted with his exacting and heartfelt touch. The Centerpiece Series - some bursting with growth, others sublimely trim - portrays positive, celebratory compositions.
Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to host Centerpiece, marking Howie Lee Weiss’ first major exhibition in Philadelphia in thirty years. The exhibit will feature a selection of new works from his Centerpiece and Nature series in a variety of sizes and formats. Weiss' framed, vine charcoal works on paper depict stylized imagery crafted with his exacting and heartfelt touch. The Centerpiece Series - some bursting with growth, others sublimely trim - portrays positive, celebratory compositions.
Narratives unfold in Weiss’ large-scale drawings, often including plants, birds, fruits, and humans. Figures investigate their surroundings, curiously prodding at holes in the ground or peering skyward at the heavens, evoking a sense of wonder and enchantment. In smaller works, Weiss challenges his imagination by engaging in rigorous investigations that explore the possibilities for his imagery. Wall ensembles of small drawings display subtle variations of cups, fauna, grids, and simple landscape features. Each drawing is fully and thoughtfully perfected, yet different from the next. The collections highlight the infinite opportunities for variety that exist even amongst a narrowly defined set of formal parameters.
Weiss’ relationship with his materials is an important feature of the time-intensive process that constitutes his work. Soft, warm, and supple, vine charcoal is a prehistoric drawing tool that artists have utilized since antiquity. From cave paintings to the drawing classrooms of today, the humble stick of charcoal persists as a fundamental material; a burned branch that has been carbonized by exposure to high temperatures in low-oxygenated environments. Weiss takes the application of this vine charcoal to new heights in his drawings on Lenox 100, an American-made cotton paper. He slowly develops his imagery in a process of building up and wiping away charcoal lines. Moving from a gestural stage into a perfected and precise image, a chronicle of the undertaking remains somewhat visible between the clean edges of finalized forms. In the end, Weiss’ drawings are iconic and timeless, celebrating curiosity, investigation, and wonder.
Weiss is a Pennsylvania native who currently lives and works in Baltimore. He earned his MFA from Yale University and his BFA from MICA. He has exhibited his work nationally and internationally in New York, Washington D.C., Italy and Japan. Weiss is a longstanding professor at MICA in Baltimore and also MICA's Summer Program in Italy. Weiss has also served as visiting professor at Princeton University and faculty at Chautauqua Institute. Howie Lee Weiss is newly represented by Gross McCleaf Gallery.