“When I choose a subject for plein air, I am responding to an immediate connection with a certain landscape at a certain time of day at a certain season. And by some mysterious alchemy my heart leaps. This stab of joy includes an element of longing and eventual loss that makes it more poignant: a realization of the universal truth ‘This too shall pass’...”
- Ann Lofquist
Gross McCleaf is delighted to present a new series of landscape paintings by Ann Lofquist in Passing Observations. Lofquist’s remarkable skill and eye for detail, beauty and serenity are on full display in this new collection of both small-scale plein air paintings, and larger studio works.
Having grown up beside the Potomac River in Maryland, Lofquist maintains a strong connection to the surrounding landscape from her childhood years, noting, “It is important to me to have a knowledge of a place if I am going to paint it extensively. By ‘knowledge’ I mean an intimate familiarity with the flora and fauna, the texture of the soil, the weather and seasonal changes”. Lofquist’s mastery in contemporary landscape painting and pictorial grandeur draws many parallels with the early American works of the Hudson River School and 19th century painters, and like her predecessors, she spends considerable time finding solace in and studying nature, selecting dynamic, rural scenes from the American northeast as her subjects.
For Lofquist, “the act of painting from nature is an intuitive process”. Lush trees, rolling hills, trickling streams, distant mountains, fog and sky are recorded with speed and accuracy on-site. The resulting small paintings are rich with immediacy as they successfully capture a raw sense of discovery and emotional responsiveness. Lofquist references these studies, plus additional sketches and photos, back in her studio, switching from observer to architect, as she slowly works to produce larger, structured compositions. Emphasizing the integrity of each step in the development of her works, Lofquist notes, “In the studio, I try to reinvent the experience but also alter and improvise…I consider a large painting ‘adrift’ and courting failure if it loses the original emotional inspiration depicted in the plein air”.
Lofquist’s work also acknowledges the ways humans engage with rural landscapes. She suggests a dialogue between the act of observation and the impact of human presence on the natural world by placing a solitary house, a winding road, or a lone figure amidst the scenery. While her plein air pictures offer a rush of delight that only nature can deliver, they ultimately invite us to pause and cherish the transient beauty of the ever-changing environment that surrounds us.
Lofquist received her BFA from Washington University in Saint Louis and her MFA from Indiana University. Her work has been shown across the country in galleries in Philadelphia, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Portland, ME. She has had solo exhibitions in Santa Monica, CA; New York, NY; San Francisco, CA and more. Her work is in many public collections including the Arnot Art Museum in Almira, NY; Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME; Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA and PECO Philadelphia. Lofquist currently resides in western Massachusetts.
“Noise and clutter are what builds the world around us, especially man-made structures and objects. Everything in a city is intentionally designed and placed, right down to the trash… Nothing is as simple as it looks.”
- Nasir Young
Gross McCleaf Gallery is thrilled to present Excursions, Nasir Young’s first solo exhibition at Gross McCleaf Gallery. In Excursions, Young features a series of small-scale oil paintings that serve as tender documentations of common sites and scenes in and around the city of Philadelphia – where Young was born and raised. An emerging contemporary artist, Young’s choice of subject matter and form establishes unexpected and delightful connections within his artwork and with the viewer. His pictures are observant, detailed and sincere and are displayed alongside four sketchbooks containing preparatory drawings, notes and doodles.
Young is a seasoned storyteller whose background in illustration and graphic design seamlessly translates into his paintings. Young explains, “Initially, my thinking came from comic book panels and how a story is broken up for the viewer to experience a full narrative within one page. As I feel less of a need to illustrate, images have become tools to show time, fabricate larger narratives, and play with compositions similar to how I work in my sketchbooks”.
Since his teen years, Young has enjoyed countless, leisurely skateboarding excursions through the city, finding different ways to “look” at the world around him. With his cherished sketchbook in hand, he records unsung sources of visual intrigue such as bodega storefronts and deserted parking lots illuminated by the humid haze of a streetlamp, noting, “my excitement and focus on advertisement, logos, and signs comes from two parts: my school background, and from growing up with Philly’s landmarks, which function as distinct visual iconography”. His works are subsequently adorned with subtle narratives, exciting pops of color and shapes, vehicles and road signs that possess enough personality to be the protagonists of a graphic novel.
The delicate intricacies in Young’s works often reference the art of embroidery and stitching. He meticulously captures the bricks, window blinds, cracks, reflections and displays found in corner stores, on the Broad Street Line, and along the shoulder of I-76. “The images that attract me,” Young explains, “are so everyday that most everyone has a reference point experience with them, and I can build on everyone’s collective knowledge”. His investigations into tags, script and mark-making challenge the conventional refrains against graffiti, as he highlights distinctly embellished vans, windows and buildings, like the church in Faces of London #02, where the graffiti coordinates with the “New Life Bible” script above it. While his works feature few human figures, these spaces provide adequately open-ended environments where shadows at night, legs that transport, and a few self-portraits can flourish as resilient and engaged characters, in a beloved city, with a story waiting to unfold.
Nasir Young received an Associate of Fine Arts from Montgomery County Community College in 2017 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2021. Since transitioning from his illustration focus to painting, Young has exhibited his works regionally in group exhibitions across the MidAtlantic. His work has been featured on ArtBlog, I Like Your Work podcast and The Flying Fruit Bowl podcast. He has been an artist in residence at Delaware Contemporary and Da Vinci Art Alliance and has won awards, grants and scholarships including the prestigious Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grant. Young is represented by Gross McCleaf Gallery, and he lives and works in Philadelphia.