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Friday, March 2, 2012

Recent Exhibit

In January 2012 Artists' House Gallery in Philadelphia exhibited my most recent work. I am posting several paintings here and explaining a little about how they came about.
Summer in the City 40 x 30 oil on canvas
As the title suggests, this painting depicts a summer afternoon looking at City Hall, in Center City Philadelphia. This is a composition of opposites - trying to portray one of my favorite things about Urban scenes- how they can be massive and stationary, but also teeming with life (the crowd)and creativity(the sculpture and the architecture). I have always been fascinated by Bob Engman's sculpture, "Triune". (NB... He taught at Penn when I was an undergraduate fine arts major, and his daughter and my daughter attended high school together- and are friends). Although I knew I couldn't do his sculpture true justice in a painting, I tried. I liked this particular view on this particular day because not only was City Hall in the background, but a summer celebration was going on with music and crowds... so there was a crowd that  became part of the urbanscape as well. The sculpture in the foreground is modern, City Hall is classical, technically "2nd Empire" and a colossal structure, so there was a nice tension going on between the two.  the actual painting of this piece was very difficult- City Hall may be nicely symmetrical, but it was difficult to achieve a representation that was solid, emphasizing the style and structure while also maintaining the somewhat loose sketch I did on site- one that showed the building's simplicity, when in fact it was complex.

Man Crossing Chestnut Street 6 x 8  oil on board
This little sketch was done on site when I was preparing sketches for a large commission in the Spring of 2011. (see post from April 2011) . I was trying to capture the patterns of shadow on Chestnut Street as it disappeared towards Center City. What first caught my eye was the orange "men working" sign on the right side of the street. I waited for a pedestrian to step up to cross the street at just the right moment so the sign appeared to point to the pedestrian. The other thing I liked about this view was the way it looked as though pedestrians just crossed the street at will, with cars zipping right past them. A reality of urban living, and something I didn't experience as a child. When I came to Philadelphia I thought cars seemed to be aiming at pedestrians- of course they are not, most of them anyway! But it is an example of the fact that people in cars do not always see pedestrians (or bicycles) as people, instead they are simply one of many kinds of roadblocks that get in the way. I find this odd since every driver is also a pedestrian at some point during the day...
Red Corner on Main Street  12 x 24  oil on board
Bright colored awnings are a constant theme in my work. This corner on main St in Manayunk was crying out to be painted... sunshine, shadows, cafe tables with a few people sitting... an orange building and red awnings...
Afternoon Row 24 x24 oil on canvas
This painting was inspired by 2 photographs... one taken by my son's crew coach which captured an amazing view of the city skyline at dusk... a warm orangey glow that I exaggerated... and the other I took of my son's boat- he was in the bow seat of an eight. One thing I love about the sport of rowing is the different colors and patterns created on the water - it is never the same view twice.

to see more of the work in this exhibit, go to January Exibit Artists' House Gallery