Elizabeth Johnson: In the “Style, Process, Perfection” part of your website, you describe beginning a charcoal drawing: "My fingertips coat the paper gray first, and then I draw loosely and freely, searching out my characters. Once found, decisive black lines are added as accurately as possible so that there is no mistaking what kind of image was intended.” Few contemporary artists work exclusively with charcoal. Besides its workability, why do you gravitate to it? Do the traces of previous attempts help you find your subject? Or are you always starting over with a blank slate after erasing?
Howie Lee Weiss: The image grows and develops. I may like a tiny bit and build around that, or I may continue to wipe away the sketch marks until the images that are necessary gradually appear...
Elizabeth Johnson: Studying your work, I feel a strong pull toward surrealism, movies, and dreams. What inspires you to put a composition together? Is there a story or mood that gets things going?
Ted Walsh: All kinds of things inspire my compositions. Things I happen to see. Things I’m inspired by, literature, music, other art. A technical painting idea, an abstract compositional idea, a theme from an older painting I want to revisit. A story, a mood. ––It could be any mix of these. Anything really...
Elizabeth Johnson: In John Thornton’s video, Larry Francis Is Philadelphia’s Most Enjoyable Artist, you mention growing up among model trains and planes. Do you think that makes you see reality as a sort of toy world? A place to play?
Larry Francis: Perhaps all art is a toy representation of real life. We lived over my dad’s bicycle shop. He built model airplanes (some of his own design) and train platforms with houses, landscaped hills, and bridges. My mom was always making centerpieces or other crafty projects. I drew things and took art classes in high school. Between 11th and 12th grades I sold my motorcycle to attend a summer art camp, where I did my first oil painting with the teacher’s paint. My parents bought Time Life books for me on American art and world art. My favorite thing was watching black and white movies on The Late Show. I think all this mixed together with the craft of making things...
“I want to work directly with the subject as much as possible. Most of my painting sites are familiar to me. My goal is to keep finding new subjects to paint, in the city and elsewhere, with a beautiful sense of light and some bit of life.”
- Larry Francis
Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to feature a solo exhibition by Larry Francis, a much-beloved painter of the Philadelphia regional scene. Francis is a thirty-year veteran of the Gross McCleaf roster and has consistently painted engaging, everyday scenes of identifiable neighborhood locales. You Are Here is another achievement in his pursuit, featuring over twenty new landscape and cityscape paintings of sites mostly within fifty miles of the Schuylkill.
PHILADELPHIA — I first learned of Leigh Werrell’s work from her 2018 solo show at Gross McCleaf Gallery. I was struck by her nighttime bodegas, lamp-lit row-homes, steamy saunas, and hypnagogic self-portraits, which felt like snapshots from a dream.
Werrell’s latest body of work, Between You and Me, also at Gross McCleaf, is both a continuation of the artist’s earlier themes and an exploration of more inward territory: the enthralling experience of solitude and estrangement in the city. Many of the show’s paintings and three-dimensional works (sculptures and reliefs) are indirect responses to the pandemic: meditations on social distancing, isolation, and the absence of touch in this antiseptic era...
If you were forced to pick a fight with a visual artist, you’d be well advised to steer clear of embroiderers. Of the many ways to make a straight line on a blank surface, thread may be the most physical. Punching a needle through canvas or paper or cloth requires strong hand muscles. Pulling the thread tight demands a flexible wrist. Doing it hundreds of times demonstrates tenacity and determination — and, perhaps, a waspish will to puncture something.
Yet a thread never lets you forget its mutability...
Elizabeth Johnson: In the Gross McCleaf statement you mention "approaching the communal through the personal" and the "seemingly contradictory feelings of being lonely in a crowd and feeling a sense of community among individuals." Were the pandemic years especially meaningful for you since we were together in our loneliness? If so, how did the pandemic affect your work?
Leigh Werrell: The pandemic has really changed me as a person––as I believe it has many people––and I think it has certainly changed my work. Throughout the last few years, I have been grappling with personal ideas of how I want to live, what is important to me, and what my studio practice means to me. I have realized two things: without a community to show my work to, I find it very hard to create; and to feel fulfilled I need to be making art...
Elizabeth Johnson: Your website bio mentions that you dropped out of your freshman BFA studies and traveled the country for six years. What did traveling touch that book learning did not?
Thomas Paquette: During my “hobo years," I went on several adventures by freight train and hitchhiking that lasted anywhere from a week to several months. But it wasn’t a full-time gig: I always gravitated toward further education. When I wasn’t enrolled in colleges (I attended five), I used public libraries to follow my own curriculum.
EJ: You seem to value surprise...
“Landscape is indeed an inspiring subject to someone who values surprise, change, nuance, and natural processes. Landscapes are intrinsically creative forces. First, they evolve as complex systems from the interactions of geologic, biotic, and climatic forces over time. Then, when experienced as subjective witnesses, landscapes offer a light unique to that moment. The observer sees not just with her eyes but with layers of knowledge, familiarity, emotions, and, most crucially, curiosity.”
On Nature features over thirty new landscape paintings from Gross McCleaf artist, environmentalist, and explorer, Thomas Paquette. Brilliant arrays of color depict lush terrain, hazy mountains, rushing rivers, and panoramic vistas, where subtle and sensitive details in light and atmosphere are perfectly captured.
Elizabeth Johnson: Does your experience as a welder, cabinet maker, foundry technician, mold maker, and tombstone setter/cutter dovetail with studying at PAFA, and with your art making today?
John Greig Jr.: My basic understanding of various tools or processes certainly has influenced my work, and pushing these abilities drove a portion of my artistic exploration. With Subterranean I’ve been less tool intensive, more direct and simpler. Much of the work is done with just a sanding block and a straight chisel. My building mind still solves technical problems, but the making is more of a playful process...
Elizabeth Johnson: In your statement on the Gross McCleaf website, you state that you are inspired by certain details in suburban landscapes. Does working from preparatory drawings of compelling details forestall succumbing to new enthusiasms? Do you ever relax your focus and follow tangents?
Celia Reisman: The initial detail/object/subject that inspired me to sit in my car and draw from the location is incorporated into the drawing as a focal point. I compose as I draw, selecting aspects of the place, assembling parts for the foreground, middle ground, and background while incorporating the main subject. As the painting develops, I try to stick to that initial detail. If the painting starts to shift for various reasons, I’ll use another organizational format...
Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to host a solo exhibition with gallery artist, Celia Reisman. This selection of new works features Reisman’s primary subject matter, the architectural landscape of the suburbs and rural scenes. As the exhibition title suggests, Reisman collects her imagery on the side streets and back roads near her seasonal residences in Philadelphia and Vermont.
As a dedicated formalist, Celia Reisman is a life-long student of both the historical and contemporary conventions of painting. Her works can be described as specific places of nameable objects, as well as a rectangle filled with abstracted arrangements of carefully orchestrated colors and shapes. Each aspect of the composition plays a role in directing movement across the scene as Reisman’s intuitive sense of relationships between manmade and natural forms build rich images that unfold full of surprises, humor, and mystery.
Elizabeth Johnson: In an interview with Glenn Holsten when you were a Pew Fellow in 2007, you said that early in your career you made "knottings" that depicted Georges Seurat paintings. In an interview on artmobia.com, you named Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and Bathers at Asinières as sources. Your sculptures such as Burger 4, Popcorn I, Mocha Ice Cream Cone, Trophy Cake and Edo celebrate birthday parties, baseball games, movies, tea ceremonies––the pleasures of life. Was the pleasurable, restful subject of Seurat's work as important as relating knots directly to pointillism? Do you feel like you pick aesthetically and emotionally pleasing subjects in general?
Ed Bing Lee: I draw heavily on art history for many of the subjects of my work. In my compositions collectively titled Picnics, I juxtaposed Seurat with contemporary food images to renew art history by linking it with the present in a humorous or even unsettling way...
Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to host the first major retrospective of Philadelphia-native Morris Blackman. SAVE FOR FUTURE USE features two galleries filled with sculptures, paintings, drawings, and more from Blackman’s prolific practice through three distinct periods of formal investigation.
Drawings and a small, painted self-portrait are among the earliest pieces in the exhibit and attest to Blackman’s draftsmanship and artistic training. His softly contoured graphite drawings depict various casts and statues that Blackman studied during his arts training. His self-portrait presents a young man in front of a field of bright yellow paint. His face in shadow, a critical gaze reveals the discerning and determined personality of Blackman as a young artist.
“Much of my practice focuses on the vast wave of images that collectively circulate online. By the nature of ‘showing and sharing’ visual culture, images become orphaned from their intent and authorship, and distinctions between originals and copies are lost.”
In Fresh Kills, Irene Mamiye addresses the unique philosophical implications of social media, technology, and the ubiquity of digital imagery. Mamiye playfully considers Roland Barthes’ philosophy in The Death of the Author by creating original works from freely available, often mass-distributed, visuals. The reanimation of this imagery marks a new stage in the lifecycle of an image, acting as the beautiful and vivacious, post-modern constructions of un-dead authors. This three-fold exhibition features digital collages, CNC-milled Plexiglas sculptures, and video shorts.
Elizabeth Johnson: You and other viewers describe your work as lyrical, whimsical, lush, archeological, personal. Both you and Julie Courtney state that it is a “chaotic blend of chance and careful planning.” When you finish a painting, would you say that you prefer achieving balance or landing slightly off-balance?
Val Rossman: I think it is a combination of both . . . I definitely want balance, but there also needs to be some element of surprise. If it is too balanced, then it seems boring. Sometimes it is a gesture that achieves this and at other times it is a surprising color or shape in an unexpected place. It can’t be too disturbing, just a bit awry. The combination of chance and careful planning is a major theme in all of my work regardless of media and even series. To me that is a metaphor for life . . . we all try to plan our life, but often unexpected things happen which we have to deal with. My art mimics this and I love using a visual medium to expand upon it...
Spontaneous bursts of gestural expression meet carefully planned and executed drafting in Val Rossman’s new body of abstract works. Unexpected Interference features two varieties of exploration from Rossman’s multi-faceted painting practice of layered geometric compositions and energetically marked, achromatic configurations. Each variation of Rossman’s approach combines elements of chance and moments of orchestration, both of which are fundamental to her pursuits. Rossman finds her works to be analogous to life’s common challenges, and it is in the tension created by these opposing strategies where Rossman’s work flourishes and meaning is found...
Elizabeth Johnson: In Bill Scott’s essay about you on the Woodmere Art Museum website, he recalls that your parents, Audrey Buller and Lloyd Parsons, both studied at The Art Students League of New York with Kenneth Hayes Miller. Scott says that they “were among the most prominent of realist painters, exhibited at top galleries, and saw their paintings acquired by the Whitney Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.” Scott continues: “Early on, however, her parents never encouraged her to follow in their footsteps for, as artists themselves, they had experienced the many disappointments too often encountered by a life in the arts. They feared the instability of such a life might lead their daughter to a wildly sad existence. Perhaps worse [. . . ] they worried she might move to Greenwich Village and live a life of ‘sin and debauchery!’” Did your parents invite you to paint or draw with them when you were a kid?
Penelope Harris: My parents were older when they had children. They weren't like the Wyeths, they didn't take us under their wing and teach us. They were so busy with their own careers, and they did commercial work for money...
Amy Brady: Please tell me about your latest series, Ardens Mundi. What does that title stand for, and how does the exhibition speak to the climate crisis?
Maureen Drdak: Ardens Mundi is Latin for Burning Worlds. The series presents the many faces of global warming as it manifests across the planet, with each work presenting a distinct cataclysmic phenomenon. The title also refers to the transmutational power of burning in the spiritual sense, in that humanity has agency—humanity can choose to purify itself from its worst addictions. The series is reflective of my long study and work in the Himalayan country of Nepal, a country and region where the conversation between spirit and matter is of long and particular intensity—and of special relevance to our rapidly heating planet.
Elizabeth Johnson: Did you start painting portraits when you came to PAFA? Or did you enter school already drawing and painting people?
Mickayel Thurin: I've always loved portraiture. I used to draw from family photographs when I was six or seven, and I’d also draw people when someone would take the time to sit for me. Some kids like drawing animals or sunsets, for me it's people and their faces that sparks my interest, closely followed by color and pattern and texture. It has to do with the personality within a face. There’s so much going on with a person, and I understand them better through portraits than through conversation...
Elizabeth Johnson: In your statement on the Gross McCleaf site, you use the term “slippage.” Does this reference Jacques Lacan’s theory of the unstable relationship between signified and signifier?
Michael Gallagher: I’ve been using “slippage” for decades. It’s not informed by any postmodern thinking, which I find mostly befuddling and obtuse on purpose. How I use the term relates not only to subject matter but also issues regarding space; the idea that a shape/form can occupy multiple spatial conditions and potential readings keeps me engaged in both making and looking.
In the ’80s I was painting on X-rays and black and white photographs of artworks from PAFA’s permanent collection...
“…the idea that a shape/form can occupy multiple spatial conditions and potential readings keeps me engaged in both making and looking… a Duck/Rabbit thing, rooted in the complexities and pleasure of perception.”
Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to present, INFINITION, a solo exhibition of bold and colorful abstractions by Michael Gallagher.
Enigmatic, delightfully playful and bold, Gallagher’s new works at first appear as accomplished abstractions that reference modernist forms. Painted biomorphic shapes swirl around the surface, producing a centrifugal force generated from the center of the painting outward. Texture and varied paint application break the solidity of flat planes of color creating implied space in the composition. The shapes then alternately poke into those spaces and push out, shifting the relationship between what is considered the figure and what is the ground.
Elizabeth Johnson: The press release for All the Sauce, your 2019 show at Gross McCleaf states: “Passione’s paintings benefit from a vitality born from the means of their finding: handmade, felt, visual, and free from singular meaning.” Has your process of “finding” changed since then?
Benjamin Passione: The paintings from that show were a little bit opaquer and denser, very bright and immediate with the color. They were a little darker and acidic. The newer works are a little lighter, sketchier, and scumbley, a tad bit more playful and less serious. These paintings are my quarantine/Covid pictures. They are escapism for me. Hopefully, they are calming and fantastical...
Elizabeth Johnson: Your work seems to build on the color-focused branch of abstraction or formalism that springs from Piet Mondrian and Joseph Albers. I sense echoes of Sol LeWitt, Al Held, Frank Stella, and Dorothea Rockburne, particularly because they approach drawing and color as you do. Who were your influences?
Thomas Paul Raggio: Barnett Newman, Morris Louis, Roy Lichtenstein are the major ones that come to mind. During a studio residency in Australia, I studied with Jenny Watson, Julie Fraser, and Mostyn Bramley-Moore...
“I think everything is in there: events, people I know, stories, architecture, music…I’m a big believer in coincidence, synchronicity, and numerology: it’s all about how things get funneled and filtered into a linear, transcendent expression.”
-Thomas Paul Raggio
Gross McCleaf is pleased to exhibit a new body of hard-edged abstractions by Thomas Paul Raggio in his first solo show with the gallery. This exhibition, titled In the Valley, features Raggio’s signature combination of carefully organized lines and stripes, meticulously painted in acrylic. While non-objective, the painted bars create harmonious color vibrations that ripple across each canvas. Crisscrossing diagonals offer geometry, movement, and balance...
Elizabeth Johnson: I grew up on a farm. Open green spaces dotted with farms equates home, security, and privacy to me. What does rural beauty mean to you?
Jeffrey Reed: I grew up just north of Annapolis, Maryland, in a small community on the Magothy River. It was a rare day when I wasn’t outside on or near the water. Nature has always had a strong pull on me and being outside is where I feel most alive and curious.
Being on the water made me keenly aware of the weather and the relationship between the sky, water and land. The skies were always of special interest to me. Skies can be dynamic, beautiful and unique while offering a sense of the moment and the anticipation of change...
“I have a longing for a certain beauty that’s hard to describe, but it’s usually associated with summer colors. My desire for this summertime feeling seems inexhaustible, and though I’ve been trying for many years, I don’t feel like I am ever really satisfied.”
- Kurt Moyer
For over a decade, Kurt Moyer’s work has combined his love of nature with his reverence for art history. Born in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Moyer spent much of his youth exploring the Barnes Collection in Merion, Pennsylvania. Moyer now resides in rural New York near Rochester where he spends his time plein air painting from the beginning of spring until late fall. These passions converge in Moyer’s new abstract paintings on view at Gross McCleaf...
In “Deaf Republic,” allegoric poems that rail against violence and military oppression, Ilya Kaminsky created a young deaf martyr and a community that protested with sign language.
The collection of poems, published in 2019, is a story that is meaningful not just for the Eastern European country that Kaminsky envisioned, but also for any oppressed place.
The American figurative painter James Stewart, who lives in western Pennsylvania, envisioned “Deaf Republic” taking place in Weimar, Germany, and created a body of paintings to reflect and illustrate the poems...
The Woodmere Art Museum is the last of three Philadelphia institutions — two colleges and the museum — to participate in “Body Language: The Art of Larry Day,” a large retrospective of the painter’s work marking the centenary year of his birth, 2021.
Shows of Day’s paintings and drawings have already ended at Arcadia University and the University of the Arts, and while a gallery show of 20 Day works is still up at the Gross McCleaf Gallery on South 16th Street. It closes Jan. 29.
Day lived virtually his entire life in Philadelphia — painting and also teaching here, first at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, now the University of the Arts, and then at the University of Pennsylvania...
I went to see the de Kooning Retrospective at the Whitney Museum in the Fall of 1983, just weeks after I arrived in New York City from China. I had vaguely heard of his name and had never seen his work, even in reproduction.
I remember clearly the moment I stepped into the first gallery, where the show started, as I faced this wall filled with huge canvases. I felt like I was hit by lightning and landed on the moon, I was in a different world. There were figures, supposedly female, painted fiercely with thick, juicy paint.
Body Language: The Art of Larry Day celebrates the centenary year of Larry Day (1921–98), a visual maestro and brooding intellectual figure in post-war American art. Curated by British art historian David Bindman, the show is at a trio of Philadelphia sites: at Woodmere Art Museum Silent Conversations is comprised of Day’s figurative work, including an overview of works on paper; Absent Presence at Arcadia University shows architectural landscapes on canvas and paper and a selection of prints; and at University of the Arts Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, Nature Abstracted reveals the artist’s earliest ventures into abstraction. Spanning nearly five decades, the exhibition marks the most comprehensive retrospective to date of Day’s capacious and affective artistic praxis.
Maureen Drdak’s art practice was born out of curiosity, rigorous research, and a love for material and design. Although she has traveled extensively to Israel, Egypt, Tunisia, Italy, England, the Caribbean islands, and India, Nepal has been the focal point of her academic research, made possible in part through a Fulbright Fellowship in 2011. Drdak says, “Nepal has been a tremendous source of spiritual sustenance, wonder, enrichment, and connection…In the past fifteen years, the innumerable relationships I’ve developed have been an indescribable blessing.” On view in Burning Worlds, her wall-bound relief works are a combination of painting and the ancient art of repoussé, a unique metalworking technique she studied during her visits to Nepal.
Initially drawn to a photo of the Kali Gandacki river gorge in the Nepali Himalayas, Drdak visited the Kathmandu Valley for the first time in 2005. Upon her arrival, she was immediately and unexpectedly taken with the Newar repoussé that decorated the temples in the area. Dating back to the Bronze Age, the exact roots of the time-intensive repoussé technique is unknown; however, Patan, Nepal has become the contemporary hub of this endangered practice...
Elizabeth Johnson: Realistic landscapes of farmland, forests, and streams were formerly your subject.
Landscapes from 2017 and 2018 seem to mark the transition to abstraction, especially the outliers Vista and Creek Walk. What entices you to paint abstractly?
Kurt Moyer: From the beginning, I’ve wanted to make something beautiful out of my experiences, something to share with other people. For many years this meant painting landscapes and depicting the nuances of light and color. These new abstract paintings still concern the light and my experiences in particular places. But now, without realism, they’re free to become something new. I feel I’m building a painting in real-time instead of making a recording of the past...
Unlike most realists, who celebrate the world’s material presence, Larry Day seems as concerned to capture palpable absence in his work: something unseen, yet powerfully implicit. His mature paintings and drawings expressed his singular ascetic reserve, a sensibility that managed to juggle American precisionism and pittura metafisica. In such subjects as a quotidian back-alley, a charades party, a poker game there is an awareness that transcends the everyday in suspended moments of painterly reflection.
Day, who died in 1998 in his late seventies, was a doyen of the Philadelphia scene. A great conversationalist with a strong capacity for sustaining friendships, he was a beloved teacher, mentor and friend to more than four decades of artists. A selection of his astute, subtle writings on art is included in the catalogue of this three-venue retrospective of nearly 150 works, guest curated by David Bindman...
Elizabeth Johnson: You work in several difficult mediums: encaustic, casein, egg tempera, pastel, silverpoint, ink, and gouache. You mentioned that it took ten years to get the hang of encaustic––a big commitment. Is it still the most pleasurable medium?
Dale O. Roberts: Encaustic seems to possess the most unique character and range of possibilities. However, each medium has its own appeal. My fascination with ancient mediums began long ago when I was a sophomore in a graduate seminar on egg tempera...
Elizabeth Johnson: In our telephone conversation, you mention John Berger’s book, “Steps Towards a Small Theory of the Visible,” as being useful in thinking about painting. Berger states that “something as small and at hand as a pebble or salt-cellar on the table” might open access to the heaven he calls “invisible, unenterable but intimately close.” How would you describe why quotidian subjects or everyday people elicit your desire to paint? Is it generally by chance that you get interested in a particular subject? Is story a part of your interest from the beginning?
Scott Noel: I became interested in pictures, photographs, comics, illustrations, and reproductions of paintings at an early age and began to draw on my own. Pictures awakened me to the look of things and inspired the activity of drawing. Images of animals, airplanes, battle scenes, crucifixions, whaling scenes, cars, and basketball players were a preoccupation. Eventually, my hunger to make pictures coalesced around the challenge of drawing people...
“This present body of work is a deeper exploration into ways of seeing and translating the visible world into a variety of mediums. These paintings celebrate the inherent qualities of each medium, be they metalpoint, gouache, or encaustic. I am moved to return again and again to individual works and themes as possibilities continue to emerge and change throughout the painting process.”
Dale Roberts is unflinchingly dedicated to color and texture in his signature encaustic paintings and he consistently brings a lively, experimental approach to the representation of his subject matter. He finds beauty in sources as disparate as a gritty urban landscape, his backyard garden, or a selection of familiar objects - scenes that are common and often overlooked. From flotsam and graffiti to cool, colorful tableaus of his studio workbench, Roberts’ artistic approach fluctuates between representation and abstraction.
In 2019, Ann Lofquist returned to her beloved New England after 12 years in Southern California. She had lived in Maine for 20 years and her atmospheric paintings of fields, farms, and streams were uniquely recognizable. The landscape had changed while she was away, however. “I often revisit my favorite vistas and upon returning to New England, I was struck by how much they had changed during my 12-year absence,” she explains. “For the most part, the changes were (from my point of view) for the worse. Favorite trees had been felled, creeks were now choked by invasive knotweed and old dairy farms had been abandoned and the pastures were overgrown.”
Friends invited her to their central Shenandoah Valley cabin to do some plein air painting. “I fell in love with the landscape,” she says. “It is far more open than that in New England, and the sycamore trees with their luminous, white bark dominate the pastures. I returned several times during the fall and winter of 2020-21. During the winter I do my plein air painting from my car (the panel is balanced on the steering wheel and my palette is to my right on the passenger seat.) In order to paint the streams I loved, I had to find unobstructed views from bridges where I could park without disrupting traffic."
Welcome Bethann Parker!
"Guided by intuition and curiosity, Parker utilizes ruggedly tactile paint to build up layers that depict her conscious and unconscious memories." - excerpt from Almanac, Parker's first solo exhibition with Gross McCleaf Gallery
Bethann Parker (b. 1984) runs a homestead in the mountains of northeast Appalachia that is rooted in traditional living. There, she tends a studio practice with interdisciplinary research and material experimentation provided by the land. Parker considers herself a midwife to the myriad forms and formats of her art.
She received a BFA and Certificate of Fine Art from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and a Certificate from the Barnes Foundation. She was the recipient of The Fred and Naomi Hazel Art Scholarship, The Richard Von. Hess Travel Scholarship and twice awarded Venture Fund Grant for large project proposals. Her work has been featured in the New York Times and the Voice of America.
“I love to paint in the presence of a sitter or in the light of a cityscape, but I can’t “capture” the appearance; rather, I move the paint around, simplify, blur, scrape, and rephrase until the beloved seems to appear…. The vocation of art begins in a longing that only the art can address. At first, the longing attaches to something in the world. But, over time, the artist notices something about how picturing itself causes almost anything seen to open as an occasion for wonder and surprise.”
- Scott Noel
In his eleventh solo exhibition at Gross McCleaf, Scott Noel presents an impressive selection of monumental, narrative paintings...
Gross McCleaf is pleased to present A Return Home, the first solo exhibition by painter Ann Lofquist since her recent move back to the East Coast. After twelve years in California, Lofquist again embraces her love of the landscape specific to New England and the Shenandoah Valley. Featuring both small panel paintings and large canvases, this exhibit examines the challenges of landscape painting in the hands of a master. Beginning her exploration with small en plein air paintings, Lofquist finds locations that speak to her and offer a range of opportunities for subject and composition, often inviting multiple visits during different times of day and seasons. The task then becomes one of unconscious data-processing as the artist faithfully attempts to capture observations of light, space, and form.
If Ying Li’s paint application suggests a furious restlessness, her work has been, for many years, no less unsettled in terms of geography. Over the years, the artist’s motifs have included landscapes in France, Spain, Ireland, Italy, and Switzerland, and – on this side of the Atlantic – Newfoundland, Maine, the Colorado Rockies, and upstate New York, as well as New York City.
What to do when a pandemic freezes travel world-wide?
Gross McCleaf Gallery and Blue Stoop are pleased to welcome Ilya Kaminsky for a special poetry reading event in conjunction with James Stewart's exhibition: Recent Work - Influenced By Ilya Kaminsky's "Deaf Republic". Following the reading, Philadelphia-based writer Sara Novic will be moderating a discussion with Kaminsky.
This event will run for approximately one hour and is offered both in-person and virtually on Zoom to provide a safe and accessible viewing experience for all. ASL interpretation will be provided along with priority seating upon request. Out of an abundance of caution, in-person attendees are required to present their COVID vaccination card (a copy or digital image will be accepted), and masks are also required for the duration of the event.
We encourage attendees to visit James Stewart's exhibition before or after the reading. Stewart's work is on view in the gallery from September 1 - October 23 with an opening reception from 2 - 4 pm on September 18. Locally owned bookstore The Head & The Hand will be onsite with copies of Kaminsky's & Novic's work for purchase.
“In early March 2020, Haverford College, like educational institutions throughout the country, closed its campus to visitors and moved classes online in order to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the months that followed, Ying Li, the Phlyssa Koshland professor in Fine Arts at Haverford, responded to the crisis with astonishing and prolific creativity. Comprising 47 paintings created in just five months, Blossoms in a Sudden Strangeness reflects a profound aesthetic discipline. Li began each painting through closely observing subjects she discovered in or near her apartment on Haverford’s campus, such as the view from her porch or cherry trees in bloom. Responding to beauty and ephemerality in nature, she abstracts and reworks each composition until her expressive gestures and densely layered surfaces convey the complexity of her observations over time. Reveling in possibility, she adds, spreads, and scrapes away paint, creating relief-like topographies. Amid the ‘sudden strangeness’ of the pandemic, Li was fortunate to safely remain on campus, taking inspiration from flora and fauna that have fascinated her for more than 25 years...
When I think about Kati Gegenheimer’s work, I think about time, and I think about my friends.
I also think about handfuls of glistening jewels, about orchestral swells and technicolor sunsets, about melodrama and rooms of secret treasure, about dayglow candy from another dimension. I think about golden flickering candlelight in a 1950s Disney cartoon burning out of the darkness. I think about the moment between confetti exploding into the air and when it begins to descend, stretched out into infinity. I think about what it means to give someone something beautiful...
Rocks, Trees, and Gardens: Paintings by Lois Dodd and Ying Li will open this Saturday and Sunday, July 10-11 from 1-5 pm, at Rosy End Post, 18 South Street, Greenport, NY. The exhibition will run for three weekends, through July 24-25.
Lois and Ying long have focused their paintings on the natural world. Close friends, they occasionally have journeyed together to paint side by side. During long careers, each artist has developed a style of painting that is uniquely her own, but their styles could hardly be more different. This show is an opportunity to see the work of two painters who use paint in radically different ways.
“I was here.
You were here.
I am here. You are here.
In her paintings, Kati Gegenheimer uses color, pattern, decoration, and symbolism as ways to express love, ritual, and radical sentimentality. Her sensitivity to touch and brushwork on the canvas as a love letter to being present in a moment; asking us to slow down to see the everyday magic that we often only glance out of the corner of our eye - a shimmer, a twinkle, a cloud passing in the blue sky, a butterfly hovering to look at you. Gegenheimer emphasizes this need to be present in the moment. She writes:
“Time stopped when you entered the room.
You are here for a reason, at this very moment.
Some would say it is luck, others would say it was meant to be.”
Painting is meant to be seen, not talked about. Painters are drawn to things, not concepts or doctrines. What counts is what is in front of them, the very thing itself—whether an object or a vista—not an idea about the thing. For a painter, the only ideas that count are pictorial ones. Matters of fact are primary. These include the material facts of paint, the cookery of getting it right, manipulation of brushes and color chords—all physical, earth-bound matters. Fairfield Porter was blunt: “An art that finds ideas more real than things is attractive to the unemployed intellectual.”
Max Mason considers himself a landscape painter — it’s just that many of those landscapes feature immaculately cut grass and bases arranged in a diamond shape 90 feet apart.
The Philadelphia-area artist will display some of his baseball-themed work in the exhibition “Making the Game,” which opens Sunday at the Butler Institute of American Art.
Youngstown, OH, May 18, 2021 – The Butler Institute of American Art at 524 Wick Avenue in Youngstown, Ohio is delighted to announce the opening of an exhibition of baseball paintings just in time for summer. Max Mason: Painting the Game will open Sunday, June 13, 2021 at 12:00pm in the museum’s Giffuni Gallery on the second floor, where the artist will present a gallery talk at 2:00pm. The exhibition will be on view through September 5, 2021. Admission to The Butler and Max Mason’s gallery talk are free.
The paintings of Max Mason are impressive on a variety of levels. He is a masterful draughtsman who can lay down paint in the manner of the old masters. Staying with the magical theme of baseball he presents a virtual clinic on composition and color usage. In a museum filled with exquisite paintings, the works of Max Mason more than hold their own. The Butler is delighted to present this outstanding exhibition of the work of Max Mason.
Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to announce two solo exhibitions of new paintings by gallery artists, Rebekah Callaghan and Claire Kincade, and Pet Show, a group exhibition featuring the work of Joan Becker, Su A Chae, Eileen Goodman, Morgan Hobbs, Katie Hubbell, Darla Jackson, Christina Leone, Joseph Lozano, Douglas Martenson, Scott Noel, Bethann Parker, Frank Trefny, and Ted Walsh.
Rebekah Callaghan met the unique challenges of this past year by turning inward, moving away from observation and focusing more on her process and feelings. Callaghan scaled up the plant-based imagery. She played with color and pattern to fit the mood of the painting rather than limiting herself to a faithful adherence to the original source. . .
Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia represents noteworthy marine artists such as Douglas Martenson. “The coast of Maine is a natural wonder,” says Martenson. “The rocks along the shore are weather-beaten, wounded but enduring. I love the tides and where I go each summer, they vary by 9 feet. At high tide, only the sun-bleached caps of the boulders are visible. As the water recedes, the entire boulder appears, as if a large whale has emerged from the watery depths.
“The ocean is mesmerizing,” Martenson says, “and there is something that draws us to the shore; the waves crashing and the smell of the salt air. Collecting these paintings allows one to bring some of these sensations home.
Claire Kincade invites us to share in the experience of the objects she surrounds herself with and that she arranges in her still life paintings.
Light pours through living room windows, emphasizing the form of objects while they express themselves more quietly in the subdued light of a basement. The arrangement of objects in unexpected locations and lighting conditions causes the viewer not only to appreciate the whole but to slowly contemplate them as individual objects and how they relate to the space they occupy.
Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to announce two solo exhibitions of new paintings by gallery artists, Natasha Das and Max Mason and a collection of mini exhibitions, featuring the work of Giovanni Casadei, Rhea Cutillo, Ying Li, Scott Noel, Thomas Paquette, Jeffrey Reed and Val Rossman.
Textures created with thread are to Natasha Das what brushstrokes are for other artists: fundamental, visceral, expressive elements. Das’ labor-intensive compositions convey her unique voice by representing an engagement with both abstraction and the weaving tradition of her native India, lending an autobiographical component to her work. . .
Rebecca Segall is turning over a new artistic leaf as owner of Gross McCleaf Gallery.
Gross McCleaf Gallery has been an esteemed fixture on Philly’s gallery scene for more than 50 years, but with the recent retirement of longtime owner Sharon Ewing and the new ownership under PAFA graduate Rebecca Segall, the contemporary gallery is prepared to take on the next half-century with a refreshed—and decidedly modernday— perspective.
Gross McCleaf gallery was founded in 1969 by Estelle Shane Gross, and the Rittenhouse Square Gallery has celebrated a half-century legacy of female leadership.
"This was really at the beginning of what would become a rich gallery scene in Philadelphia," says gallery owner and director, Rebecca Segall, who adds that Gross started with the idea of a New York City-style gallery, but then began supporting local artists. . .
Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to announce two solo exhibitions of new paintings by gallery artists, Christine Lafuente and Joseph Lozano and a group exhibition featuring the work of Melanie Fischer, Kati Gegenheimer, Eileen Goodman, Elizabeth Hamilton, Ying Li, Jonathan Mandell, Irene Mamiye, Lynn Muchnick, Scott Noel, Barbara Sosson, and Frank Trefny.
Christine Lafuente is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and received her Certificate in Painting from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. After spending years in Philadelphia where she was artist-in-residence at the Fleisher Art Memorial, Lafuente moved to Brooklyn and completed her MFA at Brooklyn College in 2004. She has exhibited her work throughout the Mid-Atlantic region in numerous solo shows and had a solo exhibition in London, England in 2008. Lafuente has been represented by the Gross McCleaf Gallery since 2002. . .
When Christine Lafuente set out to paint her latest series of works in Puerto Rico in March 2020, she never fathomed what would transpire over the next few months. The trip was planned a year prior after having visited the country for a workshop and finding that the cities reminded her of her late father’s home country of Cuba, which he left to go to university in the United States and was unable to return.
Lafuente had planned to explore San Juan, learning more about the people, the architecture and the culture, in hopes of making a deeper connection to a similar ancestry as her own. Soon after she arrived for what was supposed to be a shorter trip, Lafuente was locked down in the country and stayed for several months because of the pandemic. Her work, which she had hoped would reflect the vibrancy and beauty of the city at a more intimate level, shifted to views from the windows of the terrace apartment she rented. The work created was more internal but still filled with the bold architecture and bright sunlight.
Amie Potsic interviews Rebecca Segall about her acquisition of the Gross McCleaf Gallery, her artistic connections to PAFA, and her perspective on stewarding the gallery into the future.
Owner and Director, Rebecca Segall, interviews with NBC10 to promote Women's history month with Gross McCleaf, a woman-owned business.
Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of new paintings by gallery artist, Douglas Martenson and a group exhibition featuring the work of Brian Boutwell, Betsy Eby, Deirdre Murphy, Celia Reisman, Rebecca Segall, Sterling Shaw, Michayel Thurin, Alexandra Tyng, and Leigh Werrell, curated by Douglas Martenson.
Douglas Martenson paints observationally in various locations in Maine and Pennsylvania. He meticulously documents the light, atmosphere and environment of each view through a variety of painting techniques. While the painted objects appear with local color firmly established, a sensitive eye will begin to perceive deep reds, light purples, golds, chromatic grays and a spectrum of ever-present blues. Martenson’s careful handling of paint opens up worlds within each object, giving way to a conceptual interpretation over time.
Gross McCleaf Gallery is showing works by Maryland-based Nicole Parker in her first solo exhibition in Philadelphia. Titled “Thresholds”, her paintings are portals that allow a viewer to travel through conceptual thresholds into surrogate realities. “I love human spaces like houses, buildings and public transport, and am interested in the ‘footprints’ and evidence of ourselves that we always manage to leave. Every place and object is a story or an artifact.” Also on view in February is “Trees, Seas and Objects” a major solo exhibition of new paintings by Martha Armstrong. In addition to landscapes, the current exhibition will feature a selection of still-life paintings, subject matter which Armstrong has long-explored but rarely displayed.
Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to announce a major solo exhibition of new paintings by gallery artist, Martha Armstrong and Nicole Parker's first solo exhibition in Philadelphia.
Armstrong’s muscular shapes and energetic compositions are hers alone to claim – a style that she’s developed and faithfully preserved over many decades. Her work harkens back to early American Modernists like Marsden Hartley and Arthur Dove and contemporary artists like Lois Dodd and Richard Diebenkorn. One can also see the influence of European movements such as Cubism and Fauvism.
Nicole Parker’s oil paintings depict images that are on the verge of dreaming and wakefulness. The pictures are recognizable yet tend to drift into the uncanny valley – where what one sees looks to be natural and realistic but then morphs into a phantasmagoria of enigmatic imagery. Parker’s worlds contain houses, rooms, and vehicles that allude to a world made for humans, yet there are no people to be found. Rather, these spaces subtly summon the viewer to become the lone inhabitant of each scene.
Morgan is a prolific artist, curator, and educator based in Philadelphia, PA. She is a graduate of the Masters of Fine Arts program at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Central Missouri, where she studied painting and anthropology.
Dave Walsh’s monumentally-scaled landscape paintings depict national landmarks, parks and dams. Working from memory, photographs and found imagery, Walsh includes vast, scenic vistas as well as details found in trail maps, advertisements, sidewalks, parking lots, bathrooms and graphic illustrations of the sites. His work conveys more information than one can take in at once, with aerial views of trails, buildings, and bodies of water, that are layered onto frontal depictions of architecture. Each painting is intuitively organized, ignoring landscape traditions of Western art history, such as linear and atmospheric perspective, and the sublime. Walsh replaces historical landscape conventions with his own experiential understanding of these scenes and spaces from a literal, bodily and chronological perspective. These directorial decisions cause the landscapes to flatten, subverting the conventional hierarchy of space and often de-prioritizing the landmarks themselves.
I am very pleased to be able to share this email interview with Elizabeth Geiger and I'm grateful for her generosity to be able to hear about her experience and insights into her process and intense engagement with painting.
Rebecca will continue to showcase and promote regional, contemporary artists and is committed to the stability and growth of the gallery. She’s excited to support both new and established fine artists of the highest quality and looks forward to connecting with GMG’s longtime base of supportive customers, patrons and art enthusiasts.
“I think I’ve been making the same painting for a long time and it just keeps ending in a different place at a different point,” Rebekah Callaghan told painter Aubrey Levinthal in a 2015 interview in Title Magazine. The conversation focused on Callaghan’s process of working from her immediate surroundings – her home studio and the garden of potted plants that she tends there. Now, four years later, she continues to cultivate and expand upon this familiar material to make layered, luminous botanical paintings that invite sustained looking. Walking from one deft, concise painting to the next in her current exhibition “Brighter Later,” at Gross McCleaf in Philadelphia, the groupings of new works constitute a coherent series exploring variations of light, color, shape, and texture on a single theme.
Scott Noel’s exhibition “The Academy and the Alcázar,” at Gross McCleaf Gallery, is more ambitious than previous shows of his I’ve seen — he’s been given both the front and back galleries — and his paintings have a new lushness.
His compositions of figures are still studied, but they’re more painterly.
Noel’s characteristic filtered natural light makes people and places seem exceptionally still and quiet. I’m reminded of hot, dry air at noon in a city more Mexico City than humid Philadelphia. And that’s still very much intact.
Noel observed paintings by Velásquez at the Prado in Madrid and felt a kinship with the 17th-century Spanish painter, spurring this latest body of work.
Painting from nature is nearly as old as the hills. For years, Alex Katz was the most prominent keeper of its flame, but other devotees have lately come into clearer view — Mr. Katz’s contemporary, the great Lois Dodd, for one. In addition, younger painters like Maureen Gallace and the even younger Daniel Heidkamp and Aliza Nisenbaum have wholeheartedly or partly followed suit. Painting from various forms of life has become a thing — as they say — in the hipper reaches of the contemporary art world.