I was fortunate to attend the opening for the Blue Mountain Gallery’s 2016 Juried Exhibition in NYC last week. This show features the work of thirty-four artists from around the country selected from over a thousand entries by painter Stanley Lewis, who attended the opening reception. Stanley Lewis is a highly influential painter and teacher for over four decades and is represented by the Betty Cuningham Gallery in New York City. The Chelsea coop gallery juried shows, such as the Blue Mountain, Prince Street, Bowery and First Street galleries, offer a great venue for serious painters wanting this opportunity to show work and make possible inroads and connections in the NYC art world.
It’s clear that serious painters are not yet an endangered species by the number fabulous works in this well-selected and displayed show. The paintings in this show range from abstract to realist but most works fell somewhere in the middle. Many have similar subjects, trees and figures are popular, a good means to compare and contrast the varied approaches. Many artists in the show have studied at or have connections with the New York Studio School (NYSS),Chautauqua School of Art and the Mt. Gretna School of Art. and their work reflects this expressive spirit of a modernistic, painterly figurative style popular in those programs. There are far too many wonderful paintings in this show for this space to address but out of the thirty-four artists eight painters stood out and moved me to try to write a short review (not something I normally try but I wanted to expand Painting Perceptions to include regular reviews by myself and any future contributing reviewers)
Whistler’s early belief in art for art’s sake came from an insistence that meaning should come only from what can be seen on the canvas. This attitude is reflected in Alix Bailey’s Self Portrait Mantel, which suggests a musicality with the harmonies of color tonalities that Whistler would appreciate. He often titled his paintings Symphony in White and Pink, etc. Bailey’s self-portrait with white apron is perhaps more of a sonatina than a symphony; a solo affair–quieter, subtle. There is a lyrical simplicity to her investigation of form, space and light; an orchestration of perfectly pitched notes of tone and color. The resolving chord of the figure’s pale blue blouse and brown hair against the ethereal pale green mantel and interior space is enormously satisfying and makes it difficult to move on to the next painting.
Brian Rego’s Mount Gretna Inn landscape uses a painterly lens to filter out unessential details. Rego recreates nature to build emphatically designed pictures out of roughly hewn organic, impastoed shapes of color and light which also happen to represent trees, field, house and sky. The work here seems to combines important pictorial sensibilities of Morandi, Auerbach and Albert York.
There are several strong painting of trees in this show but in Andrew Wykes’ ASH the painting’s structure was one of the most satisfying, the decisions regarding placement, balance and light. The energized, inventive all-overness to the mark-making and the rightness of the silhouette of ash tree against the sky held me there for a slower look.
Sally Jacobs‘ Congaree River Flood delightful color-poem of unusual mixtures of blues and green in her painting’s turbulent facture. Jacobs’ steep topography of paint mesmerizes with her sculpted riverscape of paint.
Porch, Stillwater by Thaddeus Radell is an interior, a studio (or porch?) with a table and chair, paintings leaning against a wall, it is remarkable for there not being anything remarkable. Words don’t come easy here. There’s an honest relationship with both the motif and the painting. Shimmering marks of muted middle-tones are wrestled with and move your eye across and through the surface. The contrasts between line and mass, flat against spacial and geometry with intuition animates the picture. The mysteriously muted warm and cool tones resonate and flow into an atmospheric pageant of crusty nothingness–no pretense, no prettiness; just seductive intense looking.
Asa Schick moves into Bonnard territory with this landscape–a surprise of high-keyed brillant broken color revealing the ground’s sparkle and weave. The scrubby unity of the lighter tones abstractly contrast with the dark tones of the shoreline and tree shapes of the background asserting an impossibility for the expected topography and demands this be read as a picture first.
Andy Karnes‘ Rearranged, A sophisticated and moving use of color creates painterly surprises and compelling geometric configurations.
Tina Kraft Painterly simplicity and mystery come together for close looking, one lone tree eerily illuminated against the deep woods beyond.
I will mention a few more names in passing but hopefully you will get a chance to view this wonderful show in person, up until January 30th.
Christy Hayner’s “Acolyte” particularly engaged me for the painting’s directness, clarity and freshness, worthy of a Fairfield Porter. Tim King’s Cézannesque pastel Wing Park Tyler Creek, Elgin Illinois was terrific as was Isabelle Day’s delightfully painted self portrait. Robert Feinland’s cityscape stood out for me by the complexity and his ambition to make this visual and leaned more to the realist side of the show’s spectrum on the other end Patricia Bouley’s Good News an inventively composed abstraction that suggests Matisse-like interior, still life and landscape merging together.
Donate to Painting Perceptions
Donations to Painting Perceptions helps this site greatly, please consider your gift today.