In the Studio with Meredith Pardue

New to our galleries, the work of Meredith Pardue is simply breathtaking. Organic forms in a variety of colors and textures collide to create a composition that one can get lost in. We spoke with Meredith about her process, inspirations, and what it is like to sometimes collaborate with another artist.

Meredith Pardue, Water And Fire, Mixed Media on Canvas, 62 x 47 inches framed

 

What are your most recent inspirations? What inspires your color choices?

Nature has always been the root of my inspiration and balance, and the landscapes of different regions have shaped the aesthetic of my various series of works.

Most recently, I’ve been revisiting my Louisiana roots and have been interested in my personal recall of the topography of where I grew up—bayous, the Mississippi River Delta, swamplands, and the Gulf Coast.  All have influenced my vision and my work through their unique colors, movement, shapes, textures, and smells.

 

Detail of Water and Fire

 

You describe part of your process as “controlled chaos”. How do you decide to edit your pieces after the controlled chaos phase of paint-pouring? Do you have a usual method or is it different for every piece?

I work on multiple pieces simultaneously, so there is a collective connection around how I control the chaos in a group of pieces. It is necessary for my relationship to the work itself to let it take the lead, to let the forms speak to me as to how they should come into being. It’s a complex but intimate choreography between the painting and myself, and each dance is unique.

 

 

What is it like to work collaboratively with your husband?

Mike and I work in a parallel structure, rather than in tandem.  We establish our subject, content, and aesthetic together, but we each execute our creative tasks separately.  Our process as Pardue Hewett contrasts distinctly from how I create as an individual artist in my studio. I would say the same is true for Mike as well, although in a different way.

 

Pardue Hewett, Metamorphosis III, Mixed Media on Canvas, 48 x 84 inches unframed

 

What do you hope viewers see or take away from your work?

My work mirrors the beauty and the sublime of the natural world. However, these elements serve merely as a point of departure for the viewer, to experience what is ultimately a visual record of an improvisational dialogue between a blank canvas and myself.

 

Meredith Pardue, Fragments (Leaves IX), Mixed Media on Paper, 47.5 x 33.5 inches framed

 

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not painting?

I love to be with my family, read, and travel. As a wife, mother of three, and a professional artist, my challenges are primarily centered around work-life balance. I have found that integrating my family and creative lives into one enriching space has been the most rewarding and right path for all of us.  We all make art together in some capacity, which offers a deeper level of engagement in our familial relationships. Traveling is a great escape together and rejuvenates my connection to source and spirit. As it is said — you can never step into the same river twice.

 

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I’m thrilled to be showing at Merritt Gallery amongst an incredible roster of artists!

 

Meredith Pardue: See More WorkOn the Wall

Studio Soundtracks

Music is an incredibly powerful force, one that influences our moods and how we interact with the world around us. We asked our artists how music affects their creative process, and what they prefer to listen to in the studio. The diverse responses we have recieved can only mean one thing: that any and all types of music have the ability to spark inspiration!

 

ROSE MASTERPOL

In my studio I listen to Lisa Gerrard and Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Chopin, Buddha-Bar, Coldplay, Meditation or yoga music, Armand Mar, to name a few. Music is a driving force when I create. But especially instrumental music, it is very pleasing while working not to hear voices and words. I like to hear my own internal dialogue or just let my mind empty.

 

TOM BOLLES

I listen to a lot of music and a lot of genres of music. Miles Davis, Wire, Bill Laswell, Steve Reich, Peter Gabriel and tons of others are on my digital playlists. I also have four generations of music players in my studio: a turntable, a reel-to-reel tape player, a cassette tape player, and a CD player. I grew up in San Francisco in the late 60’s when it was the center of the music scene. I’ve been obsessed with music ever since.

 

RANDAL FORD

When I’m shooting, I love high-energy tunes to keep everyone on set in a good mood and working hard. My most recent on-set playlist was an 80s dance hits pandora station. Everyone loved it, including the animals! Lizzo of course, gets everyone in a good mood too! When I’m in the digital darkroom, I listen to cinematic scores or dark academia as find they are energizing for me but not distracting.

 

HYUNMEE LEE

When I am painting, I prefer soft classical music, particularly the piano and cello. I recently discovered Sofiane Pamart’s fusion piano works. I have also been listening to Korean traditional music “Chang” (An act of singing pansori, Korean storytellingsong). I did not like this music when I was young, but now it moves me to a deep personal exploration.

 

XAN PADRON

In terms of listening to music while I work, I wonder if it is because I used to be a professional musician, but I don’t listen to music while I work. I really appreciate the silence and quietness of my studio. It helps with my creative process. However, I have a couple of guitars and a bass guitar in the studio which I play when I need a break…


 

More posts to check out:

Artistic Techniques & Secrets
Exploring Mixed Media
An Artist’s Best Friend

Introducing Meredith Pardue

We are thrilled to announce that we are now representing the work of Meredith Pardue! These abstract paintings are a joyful exploration of form and balance. Composition and color are carefully considered, until each canvas displays an effortless harmony.

 

Pardue in the studio

 

Pardue’s work is truly a feast for the eyes. Bright colors interact with each other on the canvas, accompanied by a variety of other mediums that provide additional depth and texture. From afar viewers see a world of color and movement, while a closer look reveals intricate relationships between the materials.

 

Meredith Pardue, Songs of Mother Ocean II, mixed media on canvas, 48 x 48 inches
Detail of Songs of Mother Ocean II

 

Aside from her main body of work, Pardue also collaborates with fellow artist Mike Hewett. The work of Pardue Hewett is a mix of their two styles — Hewett’s realism combined with Pardue’s colorful abstractions creates something entirely new. Though the artists work on their collaborative pieces separately, the final product is a perfect union of their unique artistic approaches.

 

Pardue Hewett, Mariposa IV, mixed media on canvas, 36″ x 36″

 

View more work by Meredith Pardue.
Learn more about her collaboration with Michael Hewitt.

 

Xan Padron: A New Way of Seeing the World

Photographer Xan Padron is known for his intriguing portrayals of city streets, particularly those in his Time Lapse series. Padron’s photographs offer uniquely intimate views of cities all over the world. As a viewer, one can explore streets familiar to them or discover new locations for their travel bucketlist.

 

The artist in his studio, photographed by his wife Cristina Pato.

 

While there is great variety in the cities and countries depicted in Padron’s work, he is passionate about capturing his adopted hometown, New York City. Many of New York’s vibrant neighborhoods have been featured in his photographs, highlighting the immense diversity in architecture, style, and human activities across the city.

 

West Village, NYC, photograph on aluminum, 48.5″ x 61.5″ framed

 

Williamsburg, NYC, photograph on paper, 37″ x 25″ framed

 

Many of his photos show the beauty of American cities, but Padron also spends time traveling to capture the essence of cities abroad. The Time Lapse series is intercontinental, spanning across Australia, Europe, North America, and South America. Through his photographs, the inhabitants create a portrait of each city, transporting us there.

 

Soho, London, photograph on aluminum, 32″ x 47″ framed

 

South Bank, Brisbane, Australia, photograph on aluminum, 46.5″ x 46.5″ framed

 

Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, photograph on paper, 31″ x 21″ framed

 

In the mood to travel from the comfort of your own home? Browse more of our collection of Padron photographs here.

 

Meet the ArtistOn the Wall

Introducing the Work of Ray Gross

We are very excited to announce that our galleries are now representing the work of acclaimed sculptor Ray Gross. Gross plays with scale in his hand-built ceramic sculptures, depicting artist’s tools as larger-than-life. His works are whimsical and animated, paying homage to icons from art history as well as the creative process itself. Take a look at a few of the incredible paint tube sculptures currently available at our galleries.

Ray Gross, Basquiat Blue Paint Tube with Squirt, glazed ceramic, 48″ x 10″ x 4″

 

 

These hyperrealistic pieces speak for themselves in any space—take a look at how they interact with the piece below by Raul de la Torre, on display at our Baltimore gallery.

 

 

Ray Gross, Yellow Frida Kahlo Paint Tube, glazed ceramic, 36″ x 10″ x 4″

 

Detail of Yellow Frida Kahlo Paint Tube

 

The artist’s work involves a completely handmade process from the beginning of construction to the final surface details of painting and glazing elements. Each work is unique and one of a kind.

 

Ray Gross, Orange Banksy Paint Tube with Squirt, glazed ceramic, 48″ x 10″ x 4″

 

Contact your nearest gallery for more information about these pieces.

New Arrivals from Dennis Campay

Known for his impressive mixed media paintings, Dennis Campay’s newest pieces each exude their own unique charm. From a Parisian cityscape to a playful pegasus, Campay’s choice of subject knows no limitations.

Dennis Campay, Diner, Mixed Media on Panel, 38.5 x 38.5 inches framed

 

Diner

Travel has always been a major influence in Campay’s work—the artist lived in Europe for ten years, observing and engaging with different cities. In this charming cityscape, the artist brings his own creative twist to the streets of Paris. The deep green trees guide your eye through the composition as you take in the bounty of details, from the inviting outdoor tables of the diner, to the architectural elements and whimsical glowing sun.

 

 

Dennis Campay, Old Man and the Sea, Mixed Media on Panel, 32.5 x 38.5 inches framed

 

Old Man and the Sea

In this piece, a dog appears ready to fish from his boat, cheekily called La Barca. The neutral tones are complemented by a bright blue that manifests as water below the boat, as well as the piercing eyes of the dog, which is modeled after Campay’s own four-legged friend. With his characteristic spontaneous brush strokes and gestural mark-making, Campay creates a scene that is both peaceful and humorous. Referencing his own love of fishing, this piece is full of personal touches from the artist.

Dennis Campay, Horse with Wings, Mixed Media on Panel, 50 x 38 inches framed

 

Horse with Wings

Unlike any other Campay works we’ve seen, this is a piece that could be straight out of a dream. The vibrant blue eyes of the pegasus lock with those of the viewer, taking on a captivating quality. The tinker toys used in place of hooves evoke a powerful sense of nostalgia, while the light neutral tones bring tranquility to the composition. Campay’s sense of whimsy is on full display in this energetic work.

 

View more works by Dennis Campay. 

Maria Burtis: Perennial Painter

Spontaneous and inspired by nature, the work of Maria Burtis is both serene and full of energy. We spoke with the artist to hear more about her process, inspirations, and the importance of continuous creation.

 

Maria Burtis hard at work on one of her “Array” pieces.

 

What is your studio space like and how does it affect your process?

My space is my own; I use every inch it. There is one long 20-foot wall where I do most of my painting. I usually have several pieces going at once, and often move things around to get a fresh perspective on them. My palette is a table that is on wheels — I can move it around the room to get it closer to the pieces I am working on. I have several other “zones” in the studio — one where I tear the strips for the Array pieces, one where I have my daily paintings and a setup to work on other small scale pieces, and a table that is dedicated to sketchbook exercises.

I have just finished a 50 page “grid journal” and am working my way through a color mixing one right now. The sketchbooks are idea factories where I can play with composition, color and materials in a low stakes way. I do not bring my computer into the studio unless absolutely necessary — I like the zone to be as analog as possible!

 

Do you listen to music or podcasts while you work?

I do listen to music and sometimes podcasts when I work. I find that music is really great during the exciting beginning and tangled middle period of a painting — podcasts are great when I am in an editing or finishing phase. Music helps me transfer energy onto the canvas, while the spoken word of podcasts helps babysit my overly verbal brain and gets me to a place where I am editing based on feel, not on intellect or what “should” work.

 

The artist’s studio pup, Winnie, posing with a piece.

 

Can you tell us more about your daily painting practice?

I have been making one small painting a day for 18 years. The daily paintings are 5.5” x 7.5” are made in acrylic on paper, and I usually spend anywhere from 10-30 minutes on them. I have painted in airports, on trains, in hotel bathrooms at the crack of dawn while my family slept, friends’ houses, in many countries and cities across the US. If you had told me 18 years ago when I made my first painting that I would be continuing this practice this many years later, I would have stopped right there and gone back to bed!

I realize that my way is to be incremental in all things, always taking lots and lots of small steps toward something rather than making big proclamations or deploying grand gestures. It works for me, the aggregate of small actions to form a larger one. Through that process I am strengthening and integrating my creative practice into daily life. Making one small work a day means that I never have to worry about stopping, and every painting does not need to be a masterpiece — there are days when the prosaic emerges, and days when a jewel is revealed.

The main teaching it offers me is that showing up with curiosity and maintaining a loose grip on the whole exercise is the most important thing. I am then able to bring that energy of openness and curiosity into the studio and not get worried or sidetracked or stuck on the larger work. If it is going well, it’s going well — if it isn’t, well, there’s always tomorrow.

 

Maria in her studio.

 

What are your main inspirations?

Painters I admire are many numbered, but two heroes are Joan Mitchell and Richard Diebenkorn. Eckhart Tolle has taught me the most about increasing the power of presence and decreasing ego. The landscape of northern California and coastal Massachusetts fill me with awe. Being in nature brings perspective to most things!

 

How would you describe your work and what do you hope viewers see in it?

I would describe my work as abstract landscape painted in a style that is open, airy, loose — the color is fresh and clean but balanced with passages of toughness, some grit, some tension. I hope viewers see what they want to see in my work, but moreover I hope the work evokes a feeling or a connection on the somatic level of the viewer. If someone stands in front of my painting and feels something in their body, I don’t need to control what that feeling is — but I am glad the work is connecting in a nonverbal way.

 

Agreement With What Is, mixed media on canvas, 48 x 60 inches

 

View more work by Maria Burtis.

More Museum Recommendations from our Artists

With just a few weeks left of summer, many of us are looking for a few last activities to enjoy. For art-lovers, that activity is often visiting a museum, whether it be a familiar institution they love or one they’ve never been to before! Here are a few ideas for your next museum trip, each of them beloved by one of our artists.

 

Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC)

Recommended by Ben Schwab

When you think of an art museum that has it all, it’s hard not to think about the Met in NYC. With almost half a million pieces of art in the collection, there truly is something for everyone. Name any art style or time period, and the Met is sure to have what you’re looking for.

The iconic exterior of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. Photo: Corey Seeman

 

My favorite museum would have to be The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It was the first major art museum I visited when I was young, but I also continue to return frequently to see favorite works of art and discover new ones. I love seeing everything – from Vermeer, Caravaggio, and Cezanne, to my favorite Roman Frescoes of an urban scene. 

–Ben Schwab

 

The Met’s diverse collection is well-reflected in their different collection areas. They focus on a wide array of locations, time periods, and artistic mediums – from medieval art, to photography, to costumes. No matter who you bring along with you, they’re sure to be inspired!

 

Arizona State University Art Museum (Tempe)

Recommended by April Midkiff

The collection of the Arizona State University Art Museum is an impressive one. With a prolific array of artwork by Latin American artists, as well as a huge number of prints, photographs, and works on paper, the pieces on display here are not to be missed.

The distinctly Southwestern exterior of the ASU Art Museum

 

My favorite Art museum is ASU Art Museum. They have such diverse exhibitions and the architecture of the building makes it so exiting to explore. Also, I am a 4th generation AZ native and I deeply enjoy learning about the cultures of Arizona and the Southwest through art.

–April Midkiff

 

Considering both the museum’s collection and the building’s exquisite architecture, a trip to the ASU Art Museum is sure to be a unique experience. With free admission, it is certainly one to add to your to-do list if you’re traveling through the area!

 

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond)

Recommended by Tom Chambers

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is a hidden gem of the east coast, as far as art museums go. With a diverse permanent collection and an ever-changing rotation of exhibitions, each trip to this museum will be unlike your last.

 

View of the E Claiborne and Lora Robins Sculpture Gardens. Photo: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Here in Richmond Virginia we have the Virginia Museum of Art. The VMFA happens to be eighth in the nation in size and the exhibits that come through Richmond are comparable to what you see in NYC and LA. I was lucky to receive a fellowship from the museum in 2006.

–Tom Chambers

 

The museum is also an incredible resource for local artists, with a fellowship program that has been supporting Virginian artists for over 80 years. You may just discover your new favorite artist!

 


Want even more recommendations? Check out our earlier installment of this series for 3 more options!

 

Q & A with Justin Wheatley

At the intersection of nature and architecture, the paintings of Utah-based artist Justin Wheatley exude tranquility. Working as both an artist and a teacher, his inspiration comes from many sources. 

 

Tell us about your background. When did you start creating art?

I’ve always been an artist. My earliest memory of creating art was in the back of my second grade classroom with a friend. We worked hard to get the approval of our teacher and she would let us go back there and draw whatever we wanted. I think this was the beginning of my appreciation for art and for teachers. In junior high, I decided I wanted to do both of those things for the rest of my life. Now I create and teach art and I love it.

 

 

Can you describe your creative process for us?

One of the most important classes I took in college was basic photography. The class focused on composition and value. I remember looking at a photo that a classmate developed and being shocked at the placement of the focal point at the extreme top of the image. I loved it. Photography continues to be an integral part of my work. I take thousands of photos every year and spend a good amount of time combing through them, looking for interesting compositions that can be cropped from each picture.

When I am ready to start painting, I will scroll through the cropped images and select what I want to paint. The image is mostly used for the structure of the painting’s composition. Once it is sketched on the panel or canvas, I’ll begin filling in areas with colors that I feel work well together. Though structured, the paintings are fairly intuitive as to how the colors fill in the space.

 

Barn at Palmer’s Farm, Acrylic on Canvas, 48 x 36 inches

 

What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?

During the summer, when I can paint full time, I’m in the studio by 9:00 am and there until 4:00 or 5:00 pm. I’ll take a break to eat lunch with my family and then head back to work. I try to keep planning away from the studio so I can focus on painting while I’m there. I’m usually working on at least three paintings at once, rotating them from the studio to the outside patio so they can dry quicker. At the end of the day, I clean up and refill my sour cream container with fresh water for cleaning brushes so it’s ready, and I can get right to work the next morning.

 

 

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not painting?

I love spending time with my wife and four girls. We are outside as much as we can be. That might just be in the yard or up a canyon. As I consider my day outside the studio, I went for a run, placed flags for flag day in the yards of our neighbors with my oldest daughter, had a critique with an artist friend, played pickle ball, catch, and Boggle with the girls, volunteered with a church youth group, watered the garden, and had a nice chat with my wife about everything. It was a good day.

 

 

What do you hope viewers see in your work?

I hope they see something that evokes an emotion that wasn’t there prior to initial viewing. I hope they see a composition that they are not used to. I hope they are intrigued by the use of color. As an artist, it is a privilege to have people take the time to consider my work. They may walk away intrigued or bewildered. Those are both responses that I accept and appreciate.

 

Getting Closer, Acrylic on Canvas, 26 x 48 inches

 

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I teach high school art at an alternative high school, where students are behind in credit for many reasons. I often get asked when I am going to quit and focus just on creating art. The truth is, I love teaching and it brings balance to my studio practice. My students inspire me, and I hope to inspire them. 

From Past to Present: Art History’s Influence on Contemporary Art

Nearly every piece of art ever made has in some way referenced art that came before it. Whether the reference is subtle or very clear to the viewer, it is impossible to deny the impact that art history has on the art of today. Here are a few pieces from our collection, and the iconic works that we see reflected in them.

 

Rodin / Quinn

Auguste Rodin, The Cathedral / Lorenzo Quinn, Eternal Love

 

Hands are often considered one of the most difficult subjects to draw and paint, let alone to sculpt and cast in bronze. Both Auguste Rodin and Lorenzo Quinn have overcome this difficulty, creating delicate sculptures from a traditionally hefty material. Rodin’s is displayed in a more conventional manner: the hands are upright, anchored to a flat base. Quinn takes artistic liberty in his presentation, attaching the hands to a rounded base and displaying them sideways.

See more of Lorenzo Quinn’s impressive bronzes.

 

Martin / Bolles

Agnes Martin, Affection / Tom Bolles, Luminous Lilly Pulitzer Pink

 

Often in muted or pastel palettes, Agnes Martin’s work is an exploration of two of the most basic artistic principles: color and line. This exploration results in a soothing composition like the one pictured here. Within the context of the 21st century art world, Tom Bolles explores these same concepts in a new way. His bright and electrifying colors are applied with an unmatched precision, making his work pop in any space.

See more of Tom Bolles’ radiant paintings. 

 

O’Keeffe / Sills

Georgia O’Keeffe, The Barns, Lake George / John Brandon Sills, Barn on Hill

 

Architecture is often rendered in art through harsh lines and edges. Though created in different centuries, the barns of Georgia O’Keeffe and John Brandon Sills defy this expectation. O’Keefe’s is painted in a dark, gloomy palette, while Sills’ is much lighter and calm. Despite these differences, both artists have painted their respective barns in a way that captures their softness and connection to humanity.

See more soothing landscapes by John Brandon Sills. 

 

If you enjoyed these comparisons, be sure to check out our other installments of the series! Click here for part one, and here for part two.

Image Sources: Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Rodin Museum, The Wall Street Journal

In Honor of Black History Month (Part 3)

In celebration of Black History Month, we have been featuring the work of several important black artists all throughout February. If you have not read our previous installments, they can be found here and here. Though this is our final installment, we hope to spark an interest in these artists that will continue on!

Norman Lewis (1909 – 1979)

Norman Lewis in front of one of his paintings, photographed by Anthony Barboza in the 1970s

 

Many artists attempt to show a variety of artistic styles, but few exhibit the range that Norman Lewis was capable of. From pure abstractions to figuratives, with both political and personal subjects, Lewis was able to show a huge variety in his work. An array of artistic influences and personal experiences led his work to become a unique conjunction of social realism and abstract expressionism.

Lewis did not personally believe that art could be an effective catalyst for political change. Despite this, many of his paintings were still political in nature. Some were more obvious with their political messages, while others disguised his meaning in abstract forms. Not all of his work was political though; Lewis grew up during the Harlem Renaissance, and much of his work is deeply influenced by the jazz scene there.

 

Phantasy II, 1946, Museum of Modern Art

 

The Wanderer (Johnny), 1933, Estate of Norman W. Lewis, courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery

 

Evening Rendezvous, 1962, Smithsonian American Art Museum

 

Sam Gilliam (1933 – 2022)

Gilliam in his studio, photographed by Anthony Barboza in 1980

 

Sam Gilliam was one of the greatest innovators of modern American art, having pushed the boundaries of his materials. Gilliam is often associated with the Washington Color School. This abstract expressionist movement is known for its focus on color field painting and unconventional use of materials. Gilliam’s work displays both of these qualities, often working together harmoniusly. He is credited as the first artist to display his work on unsupported canvas, often draping his canvases or shaping them in a sculptural way.

Gilliam’s first draped paintings were created in 1968, a period of immense turmoil in the United States. Martin Luther King Jr. had just been assassinated, and the Vietnam War was in full swing. Suspended on the wall, his canvases were free to fold, shift, and sway with the environment around them. The artist was no longer in control of his own artwork. This lack of control was a political statement for Gilliam, and it mirrored what a majority of Americans were feeling at the time: powerless as they watched the world unfold around them.

 

Shoot Six, 1965, National Gallery of Art

 

10/27/69, 1969, Museum of Modern Art

 

Double Merge, 1968, Dia: Beacon

 

Black creators have been an essential component of the art history canon for as long as it has existed, but are too often left out of the narrative. Though this series has only scratched the surface, we hope it shed some light on just how important these artists are.

New Arrivals: De la Torre & Sheversky

Raul de la Torre, Fils: The Waves Whisper Secrets, mixed media on canvas, 48 x 48 inches

 

Raul de la Torre, Fils: There is Only One Piece of the World, One Piece of a Heart, mixed media on canvas, 36 x 58 inches

 

Our newest arrivals from Raul De la Torre are unlike any of his previous work. While the colorful combination of paint and embroidery is typically surrounded by a white border, these two new installments of his FILS I COLORS series stretch all the way to the edge of the canvas. At the bottom of the canvas there is some visible white space, accommodating his signature drips of paint.

De la Torre: View More WorkIn the Artist’s StudioOn the Wall

 

Alexander Sheversky, Red Tulips, oil on canvas, 40 x 60 inches

 

Alexander Sheversky, Gummy Bears II, oil on canvas, 36 x 60 inches

The subject matter in Alexander Sheversky’s work varies widely, but these two new arrivals truly display his range. The dark, moody florals of Red Tulips beautifully juxtapose the soft, playful feeling of Gummy Bears II. These pieces are a fantastic example of how one artist can create work that fits many aesthetics.

Sheversky: View More WorkIn the Artist’s Studio On the Wall

In Honor of Black History Month (Part 2)

Throughout February, we are celebrating Black History Month by highlighting the works of several prominent black artists. In our previous post, we featured the dynamic work of Jean-Michel Basquiat as well as the storytelling series of Jacob Lawrence. This week we’re taking a closer look at two contemporary artists, whose work is greatly informed by their experiences as women.

Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953)

Weems, in a photo from her Kitchen Table series, 1990

 

Carrie Mae Weems is one of the most prominent black women in the arts today. She uses photography to relay her personal experiences with the intersection of gender and race. Her photographs serve as both a reflection on society at large as well as a kind of self portrait, as she often uses herself as a model. Weems aims to bridge the gap between artist and viewer, portraying herself as a witness to the scene being photographed rather than the actual subject of the photograph itself.

Her ouvre includes photos of her travels abroad, musings on African history, and critiques on racism in America among other subjects. Her beloved “Kitchen Table” series, consisting of 20 photos, is an exploration of the many ways womanhood is performed. Each photo contains the titular table as a focal point, depicting the artist in the company of various other people and props. By staging these photos in such an intimate and mundane setting, Weems provides an insight into black womanhood that is wrapped in warmth, sensitivity, and tenderness.

 

Untitled (Woman and Daughter with Makeup), 1990, Museum of Modern Art

 

Thoughts on Marriage, 1989, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

 

May Flowers, 2002, Baltimore Museum of Art

 

Kara Walker (b. 1969)

Walker in her studio, photographed by Ari Marcopoulos

 

The disturbing history of slavery and American racism, and particularly their effects on women, is at the forefront of Kara Walker’s work. Walker is most well-known for her works consisting of black paper cutouts, that create silhouettes set against a contrasting white wall or background. These cutouts are often displayed across entire rooms, engulfing the viewer. While these silhouettes can conceal some of the more disturbing details, the exaggerated facial features are a clear reference to racial caricatures.

Recently Walker has been exploring the medium of sculpture, in a way that is reminiscent of classical European art. Though visually similar, Walker’s work opposes the racist ideals and power structures of classical Europe, as well as the modern societies that followed its example. From the marble sculptures of ancient Greece to the patron portraits of Renaissance Italy, references to classical art can be seen across much of her work. Regardless of the medium, Walker’s work displays upfront both the past and present hardships faced by African Americans.

 

Resurrection Story with Patrons, 2017, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

Insurrection! (Our Tools Were Rudimentary, Yet We Pressed On), 2000, The Guggenheim 

 

Fons Americanus, 2019, Tate Modern

 

Visit our blog again soon for our upcoming final Black History Month feature, where we will be discussing the work of two more trailblazing artists.

In Honor of Black History Month

February is Black History month, and a wonderful time to pay tribute to some of the many talented black artists throughout history. Black artists have been greatly influential to the art world, creating work that often tells important but forgotten stories. Throughout this month, we’ll be featuring six black artists who made history through their art. Each has used their medium to shed light on the people and issues that are too often left out of the artistic canon. We hope you find as much power and meaning in their work as we do.

 

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960 – 1988)

Basquiat, Photographed by Andy Warhol in 1982 & Lee Jaffe in 1983

 

Starting with the most well-known of the artists featured in this series, there is Jean-Michel Basquiat. His work is nothing short of iconic, with recurring symbolism that is instantly recognizable. Although his artistic endeavors spanned only 10 years until his tragic death, Basquiat had a prolific career in that time. His style, often classified as neo-expressionism, is dynamic and full of energy. Basquiat primarily painted portraits and figurative work, using vivid colors and confident brushstrokes. Many of his paintings contain symbols and pieces of text, relaying complex political messages and ideas about race in America.

His work is nothing like anything that came before it, proving to be revolutionary both during and after his lifetime. On multiple occasions he became the youngest artist in history to work with some of the most renowned galleries and artistic institutions in the world. Along with countless solo-shows and impressive exhibitions, Basquiat ‘s work continues to break auction records to this day.

 

Untitled, 1981, The Broad

 

Hollywood Africans, 1983, The Whitney Museum of American Art

 

Bird on Money, 1981, Rubell Museum

 

Jacob Lawrence (1917 – 2000)

Jacob Lawrence, Photographed by Carl Van Vechten in 1941

 

One of the most influential painters of African-American history is Jacob Lawrence, a self-proclaimed “dynamic cubist.” Lawrence’s work illustrates the lives of major black historical figures and events. Often working in series, Lawrence used his practice to create comprehensive studies of various moments in American history.

In his 30-panel series The American Struggle, Lawrence tackles numerous events over the course of multiple centuries. The series begins with European colonization and ends with World War I, covering a huge range of American history. At just 23 years old he created the Migration Series, a project that visualizes the Great Migration of the 20th century. Spanning across 60 individual panels, Lawrence tells the story of African Americans migrating from the agricultural south to the industrial north and midwest, in search of opportunity. Through his art, Lawrence retold black history in a totally different way than the white-written textbook versions most people were familiar with.

 

The Migration Series, Panel no. 1, 1941, The Phillip’s Collection

 

Taboo, 1963, Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

The Shoemaker, 1945, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

Be sure to check back on our blog throughout the month of February! We will be featuring four more black artists whose work influenced the landscape of modern art.

From Past to Present: An Art History Comparison

Have you ever looked at a contemporary piece of art and thought it looked a little familiar? Chances are that in some way, that piece shows influence by artists of the past! Art is inherently referential, and it is nearly impossible to create something without referencing other art in same way. There are so many of these references within our collection, too many in fact for one blog post. You can read our earlier installment of this series here!

 

Noland / Hoffman

Kenneth Noland, Spring Call / Michael Hoffman, Costa del Sol III

 

In these two pieces, the simplicity of the subject matter lends each artist to take bold risks with their color choices. Noland, an influential color field painter, uses a much more limited color palette. Hoffman’s take on the concentric circle is more complex and colorful, showing a natural progression from earlier examples like Noland’s.

See more of Michael Hoffman’s mesmerizing circles.

 

Courbet / Abrecht

Gustave Courbet, The Calm Sea / Eric Abrecht, Azul Variant 20

 

Made almost two centuries apart, both of these pieces depict a calm, serene sky and seascape. Courbet’s is a bit more traditional, with a subdued color palette that reflects the realism he strived to convey. Abrecht’s is much more modern, with brighter colors and hints of abstraction. While stylistically different, both pieces share a similar composition that emphasizes the sky rather than the sea.

See more stunning works by Eric Abrecht.

 

Warhol / Alan

Andy Warhol, Brillo Boxes / Craig Alan, Populus: Soul Shine

 

Of all the historical art references we’ve covered, this one may be the most straightforward. Warhol’s original Brillo Boxes (three are shown here, but he made many more) sparked discussion on what separates art from commercial products. In his version, Alan has used the same subject manner to create a one-of-a-kind piece. Alan has chosen his own words, as well as the same minuscule figures that are found across much of his work, to accompany the familiar branding.

See more of Craig Alan’s work, including more dynamic examples of his Populus series.

 


Image Sources: Christie’s, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Museum Recommendations from our Artists

Winter is the perfect time to spend a free day at one of your local art museums—get out of the house and out of the cold, and experience the artwork with fewer tourists around. We asked our artists which museums they love visiting most, and here are some of their recommendations:

MoMA (NYC)

Recommended by Liz Barber

Housing artwork by all of the modern greats, MoMA is clearly a place that sparks tons of inspiration, seeing as it was also recommended to us by Tom Bolles, Shivani Dugar, Hyunmee Lee, Rose Masterpol, and Xan Padron!

LT – stock.adobe.com

 

The MoMA in NYC is my absolute favorite. I visit whenever I can. All of my heroes are there – Helen Frankenthaller, Joan Mitchell, Motherwell, Cy Twombly, Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning to name a few. I was also able to see the Henri Matisse retrospective there. It was life changing. Twenty or so rooms filled with his work – just breath taking.

– Liz Barber

 

While the Matisse retrospective that was so influential for Barber is no longer on view, the MoMA is always featuring new and exciting exhibitions. If you’re looking to be totally engulfed by a piece of art, make sure to see Monet’s water lilies;  on long-term display at the MoMA, this triptych expands across three different walls, and makes the viewer feel as though they could dip their toes right in.

 

Dia (Beacon, NY) & Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LA)

Recommended by Hyunmee Lee

Hyunmee Lee recommended two museums, one on the east coast and one on the west. While both museums have impressive collections, they are quite different as far as art museums go.

Richard Serra, Torqued Ellipses, on view at Dia: Beacon

 

My favorite would be DIA: Beacon in New York with its amazing exhibit spaces that support and transform the work of contemporary artists artists like Richard Serra. DIA exhibits works that inspire me, particularly traditional modern painting. My other favorite museum would be Los Angeles County Museum. They always have incredible shows of Korean art including things difficult to see elsewhere, even in Korea. These shows support and inspire my work related to Korean calligraphy and philosophy. I also appreciate their mix of traditional and contemporary art that explores the aesthetics of both East and West

– Hyunmee Lee

 

Dia’s collection primarily consists of contemporary works, all housed within a building that used to be a factory. This gives the museum quite the industrial feel, surrounded by the scenic beauty of the Hudson Valley.

 

The Space Between: The Modern in Korean Art, exhibition currently on view at LACMA

 

LACMA on the other hand has artwork dating all the way back to ancient times, as well as more modern and contemporary works. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, this museum offers a place for thoughtful contemplation amidst one of the nation’s busiest cities.

 

Centre Pompidou (Paris)

Recommended by Christopher Peter

An excellent example of brutalist architecture, the exterior of the Centre Pompidou in Paris is almost as striking as the masterpieces that reside within it. It is no surprise that a unique building like this would have an impressive art collection inside it.

Exterior of the Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

I’m a member of the Museum of Fine Art in Boston so I go there relatively often. I also really like the elegant quirkiness of the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, but my favorite art museum is the Centre Pompidou in Paris where I saw Gerhard Richter’s work for the first time. The space was incredible, the work was incredible… it was a life-changing experience!

– Christopher Peter

 

Located in Paris, this collection of 20th and 21st century works is right at home in the city that was, at several key moments in modern art history, considered to be the center of the art world. With near-constant rotation of the works on display, there is sure to be something to suit every visitor’s tastes!

 


Image Sources: Condé Nast, Dia Art Foundation, Forbes, LACMA Museum Associates

New Arrivals: Squarely Abstract

Take a look at some of the gallery’s newest arrivals—all beautiful abstracts balanced perfectly within their square compositions.

Wendy Westlake, Frequently Recognized, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches
Detail of Frequently Recognized

 

Wendy Westlake

The interaction of Westlake’s forms make for a composition full of intrigue, soothed by a sophisticated neutral palette. Within this square format, Westlake finds a harmonious balance between her organic shapes and textured white space.

Westlake: View More WorkIn the Artist’s StudioOn the Wall

 

Takefumi Hori, Gold and Color No. 123 and Silver and Color No. 106, mixed media on canvas, 24 x 24 inches each

Takefumi Hori

Hori’s signature bold and luxurious use of metallics is showcased in these square canvases. What makes these two new arrivals stand out is the use of pink as a key component, giving his structured compositions a feminine touch.

Hori: View More WorkOn the Wall

 

Maura Segal, Blue Moon, mixed media on canvas, 60 x 60 inches
Detail of Blue Moon

 

Maura Segal

In this Segal piece, the artist has split her canvas into smaller squares and rectangles of different colors. The thin line of blue paper guides the viewer’s eye along each shape on the canvas, creating a sense of movement that is at once both dynamic and relaxed.

Segal: View More WorkIn the Artist’s StudioOn the Wall

From Past to Present: Contemporary Nods to Art History

We’ve all heard the saying “art imitates life,” but more often art imitates art. Art is referential, and almost any contemporary piece you see will have some sort of reference to art history. The colorful, abstract piece on your wall could have references to something made over a century ago!

Here are some stand-outs from our collection, and the masterpieces they remind us of.

Monet / Gersten

Claude Monet, The Beach at Trouville / Geoffrey Gersten, I Heard of a Saint Who Had Loved You

 

While these paintings are stylistically very different, the feelings they evoke within the viewer are the same – a sense of tranquility and nostalgia. Gersten’s beachscape has a photorealistic quality to it, suggesting that you’re looking at an old family photo. Monet’s has more of a painterly look, but the subjects still feel like they could be one’s family. Although one piece is in color and the other in greyscale, they both bring a feeling of warmth and a longing for summer.

See more of Geoffrey Gersten’s nostalgic figurative works here

 

Giacometti / Hansen

Alberto Giacometti, Three Men Walking / JD Hansen, Spiegel Im Spiegel

 

Made roughly 70 years apart, both of these bronze sculptures feature elongated figures interacting with one another. Giacometti’s figures are a bit rough around the edges, giving them a more chaotic, almost confrontational feeling. Hansen’s figures are much smoother, exhibiting a peaceful and harmonious quality in their interaction. 

Click here to see more of our masterful sculptures by JD Hansen.

 

Frankenthaler / Masterpol

Helen Frankenthaler, The Picnic / Rose Masterpol, Minerva

 

Although made decades apart, these two pieces tell a very similar color story. Both Frankenthaler and Masterpol have placed various shades of blue next to a neutral sepia, giving each piece striking contrast. Frankenthaler’s forms seem to be purely organic, while Masterpol’s have hints of representation to be found – such as the feminine form that this piece is named after. Both artists carve into their composition with powerful brushstrokes of black. 

See more of Rose Masterpol’s intriguing compositions here.

 

Next time you are admiring the art on your walls, take a moment to consider what came before it and what made it possible!

 


Image Sources: National Gallery London, Dallas Museum of Art, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation