“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. Paquette’s spaces unfold through his application of oil paint in rich, textural strokes of color, creating value and chromatic relationships where shapes and form emerge. Although his compositions suggest many distinct vantage points in their environments, varying from immersion to that of a remote observer, few human interactions with nature are presented. Paquette instead seems to focus on the rugged persistence of Mother Earth.
Paquette’s paintings, both large and small, are meditations on natural beauty and the sublime. Nature becomes an unpredictable force, offering pleasant blue skies and scenic waterways along with moments of searing heat, thick humidity, and muddied, gushing creeks. Presenting the complexity and grandeur of the natural world, Paquette’s work captures the immensity of these landscapes with scenes that inspire awe and reverence.
Thomas Paquette currently lives and works in Warren, Pennsylvania on the edge of the Allegheny National Forest. He received an MFA from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville and a BFA in Painting from Bemidji State University. He has been an artist in residence in Miami Beach through the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA), and many other residency programs including those at Yosemite, Acadia, and Rocky Mountain national parks, the Aegean Arts and Cultural Exchange in Greece, and the American Academy in Rome. Paquette has had many notable exhibitions including solo exhibitions at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, Dubuque Museum of Art, The Erie Art Museum, Georgia Museum of Art, The Rockwell Museum, and Westmoreland Museum of American Art. He has shown his work in the Art in Embassies Program through the United States Department of State in twenty embassies on five continents. His work is collected in museums and private collections across the world.
"I am interested in the ways a work of art can connect people – how to find common ground through colors, form, and subject matter…I try to depict familiar emotions that, at the same time, contain an element of the unexpected. We all have a deep desire to be understood, and my goal is to allow viewers to see themselves in my work.”
- Leigh Werrell
Gross McCleaf Gallery artist, Leigh Werrell, contemplates personal connection and social distance in a world that has been markedly changed through recent social and political events. Between You and Me features oil and gouache paintings in addition to new, exciting three-dimensional works in papier-mâché, foamcore, and wood.
Werrell’s quiet narratives slowly emerge through balanced, at times nearly symmetrical, compositions. Often defined by the mood of a dominant color, Werrell’s pictures are suffused with a light that emanates from within. A first-person perspective sets the viewer inside the scene to stare longingly towards the warm glow of a corner store at night, or to look down at their own shadow cast across a green watery abyss.
Nearly all of Werrell’s works evoke a sense of liminality. It is through these inbetween spaces, filled with untold stories, or people unmet, that the artist provides the observer with the opportunity for potential connection. This idea also permeates Werrell’s three-dimensional works, for instance a mailbox housing unsent letters, or a tent staged for festivities waiting to unfold. While many of us have spent the last year catching up on social engagements of all kinds, fulfilling our need for connection and community, Werrell continues romanticizing the bittersweet longing for memories yet to be made.
Leigh Werrell attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) for her Master of Fine Arts and has since exhibited her work extensively in group and solo shows within the region. This is her third solo exhibition with Gross McCleaf Gallery. She has received numerous awards for her work by notable curators such as Harry Philbrick from Philadelphia Contemporary. Werrell lives and works in Philadelphia.
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.