“My work seeks to find throughlines from the ancient past to present to future. I want to know how things change through time and how they stay the same.”
- Morgan Hobbs
Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to present Chronolith, Morgan Hobbs’ first solo exhibition in Philadelphia and with the gallery.
Guest writer Lauren Whearty says: “Hobbs’ body of work focuses on the slow and methodical process of building a language - a new form of communication through paint, papier-mâché, and image. Each symbolic form is a building block for a wide array of possibilities with the potential to make new meaning through different combinations, or to break down the strength of an individual symbol into a more democratic piece of a larger whole.
While I recognized many of the symbols from her previous bodies of work, like the interiors in her Bell the Cat series, the forms now exist on their own free to roam the studio and assert themselves as sculptures and whole compositions in dimensional paintings. The forms are still understood as ornamental symbols, however, the mass of the sculptures and the dimensional qualities in the paintings give a more architectural feeling and weight to each glyph. The duality of the actual weight vs the perceptual weight is just one of the many elements of tension presented in this work. The works also perform a balancing act between painting and sculpture, and between the single vs the many.
Hobbs doesn’t give us the opportunity to fully grasp these works in any one sitting. Like investigating a lost civilization, we cannot ask the people questions, and Hobbs doesn’t give us all of the answers. We are given a rich body of material and symbolic language to navigate and interpret on our own. As the viewer, we are also the ones who complete the meaning through our own relationships with the symbols and our experience with the art. In art, life, and archeology we are limited to our own perspectives and time periods. Hobbs makes that a point of excitement,” (Whearty’s statements have been lightly edited for style and length).
Morgan Hobbs is an artist from Kansas City, Missouri. She studied historical and prehistoric archaeology in conjunction with her fine arts training at the University of Central Missouri. Now living in Philadelphia, these investigations take on new meaning and urgency, and through her art practice, Hobbs seeks a deeper understanding of the visions and symbols depicted on historic buildings and monuments throughout her neighborhood.
Hobbs has shown her paintings and sculptures both regionally and nationally, including at Satellite Projects in Miami; 33 Orchard in the Lower East Side; Art Market Hamptons; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Museum and more. She has presented her work and writing at Mount Gretna School of Art; Texas A&M International University, Laredo; Tyler School of Art at Temple University; Pennsylvania College of Art and Design; University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and the National Conference for Undergraduate Research, Ogden, Utah. She has received awards such as the Hemera Contemplative Fellowship in 2020, the Linda Lee Alter Award, and the Faculty Award at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where she received her MFA. She was a co-founder of AUTOMAT Gallery and is the Assistant Director of Gross McCleaf Gallery where she is also represented.
“I’m usually rendering things that aren’t right in front of me or are nonexistent… My images are symbolic and don’t always reflect an actual place, but are visual placeholders for an idea, emotion, or story.”
- Nicole Parker
Nicole Parker returns to Gross McCleaf Gallery with Folklore, her second solo exhibition featuring a new collection of sensitive oil paintings. Exhibiting a range of subject matter, this body of work conveys Parker’s love for mysterious narratives while also delivering visual metaphors that capture her child-like wonder.
In Parker’s work, a sense of wistful romance is woven through each canvas. The natural world is a consistent theme as both flora and fauna are meticulously rendered with unmistakable technical prowess. She often depicts the nocturnal world bathed in soft, distant light, or landscape views of solitary roads enveloped by the profound stillness of the night. In addition, there is a recurring motif of dwellings that typically possess a beckoning glow, suggesting a safe haven of comfort, warmth and quietude.
In these intricately crafted worlds, structures, animals and scenic features subtly emerge from the fog of soft chiaroscuro, as if materializing from a dream. Parker often plays a game of visual hide-and-seek, at times limiting information provided to the viewer. Subjects are intriguingly cut off at the painting’s edge or are only faintly suggested – their presence inferred by a cast shadow, as with the barely noticeable cat in Breakfast. In Old Blues, the forms of a canine and a home atop a hill seemingly merge into their environmental surroundings to become one silhouette. This intentional sparseness allows for a leisurely and thoughtful interpretation where nuance can unfold. Conversely, in Purple Fugue and Stardust, a sense of horror vacui reigns as the viewer becomes spatially engulfed by a sea of delicate leaves and flowers. Whatever the vantage point, Parker’s paintings seem to momentarily suspend reality, transporting the viewer to another world where their imagination takes over and whispers tales of longing, nostalgia and magic.
Parker’s deep appreciation of cinema is apparent in her works. She effectively paints color and light that sets the mood, time, temperature, and season of each scene with astounding specificity. To achieve this, most of her works contain a limited value range, where varying tonal shifts within a single dominant color add to the overall richness and atmosphere of her art. For instance, pale yellow light brings a cozy, winter morning to life inside an old house in Breakfast, while a soft turquoise mist portrays a cold highway road at dawn in New Year’s Day. In several of the works, burnt orange becomes reflected light on a snowy landscape and warm purple a mysterious night sky at dusk. Altogether, the result is an array of deeply evocative, emotionally resonant paintings.
Nicole Parker is currently based in Maryland. She received her BFA and Certificate from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in 2018. During her time at PAFA, she was a recipient of the Richard C. Von Hess Memorial Travel Scholarship, which allowed her a month of travel in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Iceland to explore individual artistic pursuits of her choosing.
After graduating and completing her overseas travel, she had her first large solo exhibition at the Rouse Company Foundation Gallery at Howard Community College in Maryland, where she previously studied during high school. She had her first Philadelphia exhibition in 2021 at Gross McCleaf where she is represented.
Nicole has also enjoyed making work and learning from other artists at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Hyattsville, Maryland, where she was previously an Artist in Residence, and is now a Printmaking Associate. She has exhibited her paintings and prints in numerous group exhibitions along the East Coast, including in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York.
Good things come in little packages in The Gift, Group Exhibition Of Small Works featuring gallery artists – Rita Bernstein, Keith Breitfeller, Giovanni Casadei, Larry Francis, Christine Lafuente, Ed Bing Lee, Max Mason, Celia Reisman, Val Rossman, Howie Lee Weiss and Nasir Young.
Nasir Young’s paintings, alongside Rita Bernstein’s works on paper, encapsulate care and intimacy within the boundaries of a diary page. Ed Bing Lee’s collection transcends the ordinary, offering a series of chawan (Chinese tea bowls), each meticulously crafted in his signature style with soft, knotted fibers. Similarly, the works of Christine Lafuente and Giovanni Casadei bloom before your eyes, comprising romantic bouquets of flowers captured in their exquisite, diminutive still life paintings.
Val Rossman and Keith Breitfeller elevate the atmosphere with their spirited color field abstractions, turning the gallery into a celebration of hues. Larry Francis and Celia Reisman contribute to this warmth, by bringing the charm of neighborhood scenes to life. Howie Lee Weiss adds a touch of whimsical companionship, introducing viewers to the aesthetics of trees, whose cheerful presence is a delightful find for anyone on your holiday list.
This exclusive grab’n go’ sale is a perfect opportunity to secure a unique gift for your favorite person, just in time for the holidays.