Gross McCleaf Gallery is thrilled to present a group exhibition titled, Nocturne, featuring the works of Melanie Delach, Emily Elliott, Kate McCammon, Kelly Micca, Dori Miller, Kimi Pryor, and Tess Wei along with a selection from represented GMG artists.
Autumn is once again cooling the air, drawing long shadows across sidewalks covered in leaves, and expanding the period of darkness between each day. Before winter conditions take hold, this season provides an opportunity to relish in the romantic beauty and mysterious character of the night.
Kelly Micca paints on location with a battery-operated desk lamp pointed towards her palette and canvas. In Harvest Moon, a bright full moon radiates against a tiny detail of City Hall in the background. In another work, majestic purple clouds fill three-quarters of the picture while a sunset disappears behind the blue light of the Wells Fargo Center. In her documentation of the finest nighttime visions of Philadelphia, the hazy lights at a Wawa gas pump glisten as the red logo glows with the promise of snacks and lottery tickets.
Kate McCammon’s soft fiber paintings depict night scenes outside the city. In Backyard, two lawn chairs and a table conjoin into a geometric abstract shape. They rest on a lawn spotted with glittering speckles of light. Her stretcher bars are curled up in sheets of velvet, silk, and upholstery fabric that embrace the rectangular wooden structure like a warm duvet.
Taking us deep into the night sky, Emily Elliott’s wall-bound plaster monotypes evoke moons, asteroids, and other celestial orbs. Sensitive colors and textures convey the four classical elements – fire, air, water, and earth - bringing distant nocturnal observations within arm’s reach.
Through sculptural paintings with low-relief, queer artist Melanie Delach creates sparingly defined spaces for contemplation. Between the nameable leaf, ribbon, and window frames, deep, empty voids stretch toward the background like the night sky. For Delach, the darkness provides a safe zone for identity exploration, offering a place to resurrect her past. Twinkling star-like forms provide a light at the end of the tunnel. To Delach, they signal hope for a brighter future.
Dori Miller also finds spirituality and healing within the darkness. Her large textural abstraction, Bhaiṣajyaguru, presents an immense, central shape in deep blue. Commonly known as the Medicine Master and King of Lapis Lazuli Light, Bhaiṣajyaguru is the Buddha of healing in Mahāyāna Buddhism. In Miller’s painting, a soft, cool ultramarine, traditionally made from lapis, emits a sense of calming power and embrace.
Thoughtfully inviting slowness, Tess Wei’s paintings defy straightforward description. As a combination of oil, flashe, and wax with shells and sand collected by the artist off the coast of Newfoundland, Wei’s textural pieces exist as both object and picture plane. Although space and form emerge from the varied black surfaces, the shapes remain unnamable. There is a sense of blindly navigating a room, feeling around in the dark.
The witching hour has arrived in Kimi Pryor’s dream-like, hallucinatory narratives. Pryor utilizes thick, heavily worked layers of oil paint. At times, she scrapes and sands her canvases, revealing unexpected shapes and ghost-like forms from the substrates of past lives. Pryor’s imagery takes cues from the Surrealists, pursuing unexpected combinations of objects. Interpretation is open–ended. To Pryor, the work offers a fictive space in which stories can originate.
A selection of represented Gross McCleaf artists rounds out the group with Sterling Shaw’s mother goddesses in the celestial sky, Ying Li’s luscious Night Window, Morgan Hobbs’ house cats bouncing around in the dark, and more. Each work tells a story of the rich possibilities after night falls. When the light has disappeared beyond the horizon, a new kind of beauty emerges, a Nocturne lulls us off to sleep.