“I believe artists must make space for pleasure in painting, both in the act of painting and in the pleasure of viewing it.”
In her first solo exhibition with Gross McCleaf Gallery, titled Painter’s Table, Lauren Whearty celebrates cheerful color and playful patterns in a contemporary take on the artistic tradition of still life painting. With a keen eye for possibilities within this genre, Whearty embraces a feminist perspective, using everyday objects as building blocks to create her own distinctive universe. Each item she incorporates becomes a referential exploration of art history and the process of image creation, adding depth and meaning to her work.
Whearty’s oil and acrylic compositions portray the creative environment of a painter. Drawing inspiration from art history and observations of natural beauty, her works frequently feature the supplies required for their making. With careful attention to detail, Whearty arranges her characteristic flowers, boldly patterned textiles, and personal collection of art books and collectibles into captivating still lifes on her studio table. This conscious elevation of her subject matter enhances the joy of painting for Whearty and serves as a pathway for cultivating and exploring her artistic voice.
While Whearty's canvases are both visually accessible and appealing, they also embody intellectual rigor and a deep exploration of form. She skillfully navigates between representation and invention, faithfully capturing the shapes and scale of the observed objects. Through the deliberate use of fully saturated hues, methodical object placement, and strategic cropping that flattens spaces, Whearty creates a unique blend of truth, where figurative details are continuously filtered through the artist’s perceptive and constructive process. These paintings carve out a critical space for imagined possibilities while engaging in a dialogue with the historical artists who inform Whearty’s artworks.
Lauren Whearty is an artist, educator, and curator living and working in Philadelphia, PA. She received her MFA from Ohio State University, and her BFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University. She has been a Co-Director at Ortega y Gasset Projects, an artist-run curatorial collective and non-profit in Brooklyn, NY since 2017. Lauren has attended residencies such as Yale’s Summer School of Art through the Ellen Battel Stoeckel Fellowship, The Vermont Studio Center, Soaring Gardens Artist Retreat through the Ora Lerman Trust, and the Golden Foundation Artist Residency. She has recently received grants from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation and Joseph Roberts Foundation. Her work has been exhibited in The Delaware Contemporary, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Woodmere Art Museum, Gross McCleaf Gallery, Vox Populi, Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Satellite Contemporary, Monaco, The Painting Center, Ortega y Gasset Projects, 11 Newel, Underdonk, Sam and Adele Golden Gallery, Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, Dorrance H. Hamilton Gallery, Artport Kingston, and Deanna Evans Projects.
In 2022, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Mural Arts commissioned her to create a painting in response to Matisse in the 1930s at the Philadelphia Museum of Art 2022 - 2023. The work in this current show was made with the support of the President’s Creative Research and Innovation Grant from University of the Arts. Lauren currently teaches at The University of the Arts and Tyler School of Art & Architecture in Philadelphia.
Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to present Summer Garden, a group exhibition featuring the works of Naomi Chung, Heidi Leitzke, Colleen McCubbin Stepanic, Scott Noel, Jeffrey Reed, Rebecca Saylor Sack, Rebecca Segall, Barbara Sosson, James Stewart, and other artists from the GMG stable.
As the mid-summer heat settles upon us, let these works transport you from the Center City streets to the sanctuary of a summer garden. Each artwork offers a glimpse into the opulent colors, intricate patterns, and unique relationships that artists forge during the blazing days and suspended nights of summer. In Scott Noel’s painting titled Jan’s Garden In July, he portrays his wife Jan tending to their backyard garden. Under a clear blue sky, their red brick row house stands as a friendly witness while Jan basks in the warm summer sun, surrounded by her exuberant sunflowers.
Heidi Leitzke and James Stewart’s works evoke magic and mystery. Leitzke’s diminutive acrylic and thread works are imaginative secret gardens with space for one. Her colorful threads articulate imagined memories, inviting viewers into natural settings that feel both familiar and elusive. Stewart’s whimsical oil paintings provide glimpses of hidden backyard spaces nestled between the sloping rooftops of West Philly and spindly Victorian spires. The lush foliage of Stewart’s trees parts to expose intimate architectural vignettes.
Jeffrey Reed and Naomi Chung provide opposing vantage points. Chung’s paintings zoom in on potted plants and exotic specimens, as bright sunlight bathes the glossy green leaves of staghorn ferns and perky, open blossoms in her greenhouse garden. Conversely, Reed presents a bird’s-eye view of the green and brown stripes and the agricultural patchwork of rural Ireland, with each row showcasing a different summer crop.
Barbara Sosson and Colleen McCubbin Stepanic playfully exaggerate the scale and shapes of particular leaves and flowers. Sosson skillfully depicts engrossing details and soft greens in her large-scale portraits of curly kale and leafy cabbages. In contrast, McCubbin Stepanic’s vibrant pattern of silhouetted black-eyed susans stretch across a colossal 24-foot canvas, the petals of which radiate with movement like inquisitive appendages.
Rebecca Segall’s collages and Rebecca Saylor Sack’s paintings burst with rich hues and astonishing activity. Segall’s cut paper marigolds bloom out of the picture in three dimensions amidst the tilling of humorously disembodied hands. In tandem, Sack’s dense, thicket-like bouquets surprise viewers with the hidden skeletal structures of fauna.
Whether it is a hobby or a full-fledged passion, gardening can be a beneficial and rewarding activity that serves both aesthetic and practical purposes. Gardens provide beauty, engagement, nourishment, and a literal brightening of our days. Delving into the earth, nurturing and watering our plants, witnessing their growth, harvesting the fruits of our labor, and sharing our bounty with others–these experiences forge an intimate and engaging connection that persists over time.
Gardens truly possess a magical essence. They embody qualities of tenacity, simplicity, wildness, tranquility, and extraordinary beauty. The refuge of a summer garden becomes more meaningful, even meditative, during the early morning hours or the extended light of summer days. With the abundance of warmth and sunshine, it is no wonder we cherish our gardens, both real or captured in artistic expressions.