Philadelphia Painters

Page 1





October 20 – November 20, 2016 The Marlin and Regina Miller Gallery, Kutztown University

Arden Bendler Browning

Michelle Oosterbahn

Charles Burwell

Bruce Pollock

Meghan Cox

Celia Reisman

Sarah Gamble​

Stuart Shils

Barry Goldberg

Becky Suss

Neysa Grassi

Jackie Tileston

Jane Irish

Isaac Tin Wei Lin

Sarah McEneaney

Joan Wadleigh Curran

John Moore

Justin Webb

Quentin Morris

PHILADELPHIA PAINTERS by Mark Mahosky The purpose of this show is to introduce students at

and beyond since the 1990’s. A few years after Old City

Kutztown University, and the community at large, to the

pioneers Larry Becker and Heidi Nivling bought their

high caliber of painting going on in Philadelphia. It is also,

building in 1986 and made it into their gallery and working

by way of visiting artists associated with this show and the

space, similar changes expanded and flourished throughout

following essay, to inform them that one hour south of the

the neighborhood. Soon there were galleries, restaurants,

University there is a vital, energetic, and welcoming scene

furniture showrooms, and bookstores lining both 2nd and

waiting to be explored. I have been involved in showing

3rd St. from south of Market and beyond to north of

my work in Philadelphia since 1986 and have followed

Race St. and beyond. Larry liked to joke that he could no

the trajectory of many Philadelphia painters since that

longer afford to pay the real estate taxes. Although the

time. There is no way to make this show a comprehensive

construction sites of today look to be zoned with official

overview of painting going on there, but I can say with

permits, unionized, and employing heavy equipment, many

authority that every painter included here demonstrates a

of the initial transformations of these neighborhoods were

dedication to their work and has made a contribution to

facilitated by hammer swinging, drywall hanging artists.

Philadelphia’s cultural fabric. Philadelphia’s art scene has always been dwarfed by THE PLACE

the commercial prowess and cultural clout of New York.

Artists have to put a few things in order before they begin

However the BFA’s and MFA’s that populate Philadelphia

making art with any kind of continuity. They need a place

and the artists moving to Philadelphia that can no

to live and work, they need money to stay alive, and most

longer afford Long Island City, let alone Brooklyn, let

need some type of social engagement, usually with other

alone Manhattan make it a great place to meet, work

artists. It is evident that Philadelphia is in the middle of

and hang with other artists. Artists are coming and

an unprecedented urban transformation. While preparing

artists are staying. Vast swaths of real estate exist that

for this show, I saw construction crews near every gallery

are still relatively affordable. It seems easy to enter the

and studio that I visited. Artists have always had a knack

social scene by attending some openings and starting

for seeing the potential in less desirable real estate and

a conversation. This living and making shift beyond New

are willing to put in the sweat equity necessary to make it

York to other cities is in part generated by the same

not only habitable, but also cool. Artists helped transform

energy that ushered us into the post-modern, global, and

Philadelphia from South St. in the late 1970’s, Old City

digital ages. Now you can be, do, and buy anywhere. De

and Northern Liberties in the 1980’s, and onto Fishtown

Kooning worked in New York, not because it was New York

but because it was cheap and there were other artists to

Philadelphia musicians, technicians, and broadcasters

meet. There’s no doubt that New York will continue to be

became the anonymous and unsung myth makers that

a formidable arena where art is bought and sold but it is

moved America’s cultural needle from a baseball mentality

increasingly difficult to make art there as a young artist

to a football mentality.

unless you have a sizeable trust fund. Philadelphia is not known for its glamour as much as for EAGLES and EAKINS

its pragmatism. Thomas Eakins, Louis Kahn, and Terry

Philadelphia has long been aware of its underdog status. A

Gross are not necessarily sexy, just good and solid.

2001 drawing by the Philadelphia artist Anthony Campuzano

Likewise, the painters I chose for this show display a

entitled The Blues wackily illustrates and paraphrases

comprehensive command of their work and a dedication to

a quote from Nathaniel Burt’s 1963 book The Perennial

seeing things through to conclusion.

Philadelphians that refers to the demise of prominent Philadelphian Nathaniel Biddle in the 1840’s:

A PHILADELPHIA EDUCATION I can’t speak for every painter in this show, but by

Let vulgar Washington take over politics

providing a perspective on the 35 years that I have known

And vulgar New York take over finance

the city of Philadelphia, I believe I will be able to provide

Let even schoolmarmish Boston be first in books

a few touchstones common to us all. What follows is a

Philadelphia would no longer be first in anything but at

snapshot of my Philadelphia art education.

least it would be Philadelphian The Queen Mother of all art in Philadelphia is The Philadelphia still has an admirable showing in the attributes

Philadelphia Museum of Art, which was under the able

that Biddle was fearful of losing, but Philadelphia is

and steady direction of Anne d’Harnoncourt for most of

probably better known for having plenty of guts, self-

the years to which I refer. I grew up in a small central

deprecating sarcastic humor, and a do-it–yourself pride.

Pennsylvania town, four hours from any major city, where

Often its visual contributions could be considered prosaic,

mediocre reproductions and Robert Hughes’ PBS series

from The Saturday Evening Post via Curtis Publishing to

The Shock of the New were among my best sources

Comcast, the mega-billions company whose goal is to

of reference. Robert Hughes had me pumped to see

control how we consume the images of the future. An

Duchamp. On my first trip to the PMA in 1981 it was

excellent example of Philadelphia’s understated influence

great to stand in the presence of the Large Glass. I

is NFL Films. Starting in 1965, NFL Films was overseen

soon learned you don’t look at Duchamp, you decipher,

by the father and son team of Ed and Steve Sabol in a

decode, and think about his ideas. Then you have to deal

non-descript, two story building at 230 N. 13th St. Many

with them. The piece that had real impact on that trip

was Picasso’s 1906 Self-Portrait with Palette. There are

from leading a life of exile in Arkansas; Vuillard kissing

passages in that painting that are gooey and thick and I

his sister; and Rousseau…where did those monkeys in

remember thinking to myself - WOW, you’re allowed to do

the jungle get that bottle of milk and backscratchers? In

that! As a student at Tyler from 1982-1986 I had time to

1996 The PMA hosted a monumental Cezanne exhibition.

digest the power of the collection, but more importantly I

Philadelphia also hosted the 1996 MLB All-Star game.

discovered its idiosyncrasies. I recalibrated everything that

In the PMA bookstore was the craziest souvenir ever:

I was being taught when I saw Horace Pippin’s The End

Cezanne’s ca. 1904 Still Life with Ginger Jar, Sugar Bowl,

of the War: Starting Home 1930-1933. That frame! That

and Oranges printed on a baseball!?! I debated, but didn’t

paint! I never saw anything like this! This is something

bite. Does anyone have one of these? I will pay $100 on

you cannot teach or learn. That room also had two

the spot for the first one presented. Ah… Philadelphia!

paintings by Marsden Hartley; an early, urbane, self-framed piece, Painting No. 4-A Black Horse, 1915, and a rugged

Speaking of Cezanne, Philadelphia can also boast more

painting made the year before he died, Hurricane Island,

Cezannes on public view than any other city in the world.

Vinalhaven, 1942. Nearby hung an atypical Georgia O’Keefe

For decades there were complaints about the accessibility

painting of a glass near a peach. Paintings by Clarence

of the majority of the Cezannes as they were housed

Carter, Ben Shahn, and Milton Avery were all hanging side

in The Barnes Foundation. The Barnes reinforced my

by side. There was a weird painting by Eilshemius of a

idiosyncratic view of art in Philadelphia where Matisse and

murder in progress with a self-painted frame. I began to

Picasso share the walls with African sculpture, antiquities

love the slightly provincial aroma of the PMA. This was not

and medieval metal hinges. Continued complaints about

the MoMA.

accessibility and parking issues, in part, lead to its now hermitically sealed present version on the Franklin Parkway.

Beyond the presence of Duchamp, the Arensberg Collection

In the mid 80’s I must have hit an accessibility sweet spot.

is a shrine of modernism. In a white yet indelible room,

You could show up any time during posted hours, pay

Brancusi and Mondrian share their attempts at perfection.

a dollar and see half of the collection. Then a man in

There was/is also (things change, my friends): the Thomas

a hat and a uniform that looked like he stepped off the

Chimes painting of Alfred Jarry, usually situated by a lumpy

Warminster Express rang a bell in the middle of the main

Jess painting/collage; the Van Gogh painting of rain viewed

hall and announced that you could see the other half

from his asylum window after the ear incident; Turners

of the collection! Dr. Barnes stipulated that none of his

incredible Burning of the Houses of Parliament; Van Eyck’s

collection could be reproduced photographically. Although

painting of St Francis that is actually smaller than the

I would visit as often as possible and had my favorites,

post card reproduction in the gift shop; Eakins’ powerful

it always felt like they were different paintings and I was

Gross Clinic - saved through d’Harnoncourt’s leadership

seeing them for the very first time - again and again! I

learned that you couldn’t memorize great painting and

equally by Professor Italo Scanga, the early SOHO art

Dr. Barnes’s paintings retained a power and privilege that

scene in New York, and their close relationship with the

few paintings maintained (as I sip coffee out of my Starry

Duchamp exhibit at the PMA. The Institute of Contemporary

Night mug). I never read Walter Benjamin’s essay about

Art at the University of Pennsylvania, which hosted the

mechanical reproduction. I didn’t have to; I was living it in

legendary 1965 Retrospective of Andy Warhol where

Philadelphia. The Barnes was a pilgrimage with the added

the paintings were taken off the walls to avoid getting

bonus of an arboretum. For those of you born after 1990,

damaged by the crowd at the opening, continues to host

you will be spared knowing the difference between Latches

important work from around the world while also keeping

Lane and the Parkway.

it’s eye on promising younger Philadelphians such as Becky Suss featured in this show. Locks Gallery is a perennial

At the Pennsylvania Academy Museum, Homer’s Fox Hunt

standout. There is the unique Fabric Workshop. There was

stands alone.

Gallery Joe, which is greatly missed.

Beyond the museums I added many go-to places and

Galleries come and go, neighborhoods go hot and cold

many must-see and talk-to people as I made my rounds.

but Philadelphia’s art schools chug along. The University of

Some favorites were the Gallery at Moore College of Art,

the Arts, Moore College of Art, The Pennsylvania Academy,

which hosted and still hosts excellent shows. This is where

Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, Drexel and Penn

I first saw the work of Martin Ramirez in a bold and

are the major players but there are solid programs at

unprecedented show in 1986. This show dovetailed nicely

many liberal arts colleges and universities in the city and

with the work being shown at the Janet Fleisher gallery on

region as well. Philadelphia can boast a great number of

17th St. By way of the Midwest with a touch of the Chicago

students engaged in the arts, particularly in painting which

imagist school thrown in, director John Ollman started

parlays into the strength of this show. Some teachers from

showing the work of “untrained artists” and art from all

Philadelphia have had a profound affect on generations of

parts of the world over 45 years ago. The gallery, now

students. Included in this show are John Moore at Tyler

Fleisher/Ollman, has become a cornerstone in Philadelphia.

and Penn, Joan Wadliegh-Curran at Penn, Stuart Shils at

One of the most amazing shows I ever saw in Philadelphia

the Pennsylvania Academy, Celia Reisman from Swarthmore

was at the Port of Philadelphia Museum on the Delaware

and Bruce Pollock at Drexel.

River in 1984. It was a very comprehensive show of German Expressionism with all the heavy hitters - Kirchner, Marc,

For those of us fortunate enough to participate in Temple

Grosz, Schmidt-Rottluff, Dix, etc. Does anybody remember

University’s Rome program, Italy was an important extension

this? Later there was Old City with the aforementioned

of our Philadelphia education. Caravaggio, Raphael and

Larry and Heidi. Both were Tyler undergraduates informed

antiquity challenged the contemporary-centric, New York-

centric art school habits of my generation. Rome provided a

a viewer, painting demands whatever time and attention

deep look into the traditions of art and helped us envision

we care to invest. For the painter, making is dependent

a long-term trajectory for our own work. We brought home

on very little technology or the help of others. No other

with us the colossal figures of art that helped us put the

medium can present evidence of doubt as part of our

latest critic driven fashion from SoHo, and later Chelsea,

intellect in quite the same way (think Matisse-not David).

into clear perspective.

Since the advent of photography, painting has been freed of its representational burdens. Postmodern discussions

Further out in the mind but in the heart of Philadelphia

have smashed modernist dogma and representation has

exist the Philadelphia Wireman, the Toynbee Tiler, and

been welcomed back into the family. Now it’s all cool

the cigar band obsessed Felipe Jesus Consalvos. Further


afield lie the artist built homes of Wharton Esherick near Valley Forge and George Nakashima near New Hope. Henry

Doing anything well, like all the painters in this show

Mercer’s Fonthill in Doylestown, along with his Moravian Tile

demonstrate, takes great determination, discipline, and

Works and museum is also a satellite within Philadelphia’s

commitment. Painting is also a great privilege. If you paint

eccentric orbit.

it means you live in a culture secure enough, free enough, and supportive enough that you can struggle and work


through life, as we all do, to get to the studio to do your

If you read art magazines, are involved in academia,

work. I often, and sadly, think of times and places where

or even casually observant of the digital habits of the

this was and is not true.

Millennial Generation, you may question the present validity and future of painting. Painting has been declared dead

Why do we keep doing it? Immortality? Recognition?

on many occasions, but in my estimation if it survived

Money? Fame? Therapy? Habit? Sickness? Self-satisfaction?

through the 1840’s with the advent of photography, it can survive anything. There will always be a fascination with

The answer is intensely personal for the painter and

the translation of a personal vision into paint. And, humans

inexplicable- like a painting.

never tire from seeing sticky stuff from the earth smeared on a flat surface creating the illusion of space. Painting is not dead or dying for the painters presented here. Although

Mark Mahosky

periodically relegated to the sidelines of critical theory,

October 2016

painting still retains its vitality in schools, galleries, and in the marketplace. It is a strategy of visual art that is a perennial contender and a progenitor of art dialogue. As

SPECIAL THANKS Brigid Donlon and Danielle Patterson are Kutztown University Art and Art History students who through the Marguerite Bierman Scholarship helped prepare, organize, and curate PHILADELPHIA PAINTERS. Karen Stanford is the Director of the Marlin and Regina Miller Gallery at Kutztown University. She was invaluable throughout the formation and preparation of the exhibit. She also prepared the exhibition materials and the information within this catalog –all with grace and seeming ease. Kevin Zodrow is a Kutztown University Art and Art History student who assisted Karen as her intern at the gallery. Annette Christman is the ALWAYS helpful assistant in the Department of Art and Art History. Gretchen Heuges is my wife who puts up with me and is a tenacious editor. Thanks to The Department of Art and Art History at Kutztown University and the Dean of Kutztown University’s School of Visual and Performing Art, William Mowder, for their support of the exhibition and the public lectures. Also thanks to all the artists in the show, and all the gallery owners, directors, and assistants involved with PHILADELPHIA PAINTERS. All were immensely helpful and essential in putting the show together.


MFA, Painting, Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA, 2003 Graduate Seminar, Art Theory/Art Criticism, Temple University Rome, Italy, 2003 MSA, Painting, High Distinctions, Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney, Australia, 2000 BFA, Art, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, 1997 Study Abroad, Temple University Rome, Italy, 1996 Represented by Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

In a Day, 2016, flashe and acrylic gouache on panel, 60 x 60 inches Image courtesy of the artist and Bridgette Mayer Gallery


MFA, Painting, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 1979 BFA, Painting, Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA, 1977 Represented by Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Orange Structure, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 78 inches Image courtesy of the artist and Bridgette Mayer Gallery


MFA, University of Pennsylvania, School of Design, Philadelphia, PA, 2005 BFA, Painting, BA, Art History, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 2003

Medallion, 2016, Oil on Canvas, 12 x 9 inches Image courtesy of the artist


MFA, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia PA, 2001 BFA, Corcoran College of Art & Design, Washington DC, 1998 North Carolina School for the Arts, Winston Salem NC Represented by Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Space Collage, 2014, mixed media collage, 51 x 41 inches Image courtesy of the artist and Fleisher/Ollman, Philadelphia. Photo Clare Iltis


Certificate, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, 1976 University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 1972 Represented by Larry Becker Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA

Barrow and Sarsen, 2012, oil and pigment stick on linen, 57 x 76 inches Image courtesy of the artist and Larry Becker Contemporary Art

NEYSA GRASSI Certificate, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, 1973 Represented by Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Underbelly, 2008, oil on linen, 60 x 56 inches Image courtesy of the artist and Locks Gallery

JANE IRISH BFA, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD, 1977 MFA, Queens College, City University of New York, Queens, NY, 1980 Represented by Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Malouiniere Launay Ravilly Reception, 2015, egg tempera on linen, 30 x 49 inches Image courtesy of the artist and Locks Gallery


Certificate, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, 1979 University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA, 1975 Represented by Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Night, 2008, egg tempera on linen, 50 x 50 inches Image courtesy of the artist and Locks Gallery


MFA, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 1968 BFA, Washington University, St Louis, MO, 1966 Yale Summer School, Norfolk, CT, 1965 Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, NY, 1964 Represented by Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Cord, 2009, oil on canvas, 56 x 38 inches Image Courtesy of the artist and Locks Gallery


The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, 1967 Represented by Larry Becker Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA

Untitled (December 2015), 2015, silkscreen printing ink and polymer acrylic on canvas, 67� diameter Image courtesy of the artist and Larry Becker Contemporary Art


MFA, Painting, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 1992 Post Grad study, Indiana University, Florence, Italy BFA Painting/Printmaking, BFA, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, 1990

Moon Light Refraction: Nomad Study #1 (Akureyri, Iceland), 2015, gouache, graphite on Arches, 12 x 22 inches Image courtesy of the artist


MFA, Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA, 1978 BFA, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, OH, 1976

Forest In the Trees, 2013, oil on linen, 56 x 50 inches Image courtesy of the artist


MFA, Printmaking, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 1978 BFA, Painting and Printmaking, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, 1971 Represented by Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Village Green, 2009, oil on canvas, 50 x 60 inches Image courtesy of the artis and Gross McCleaf Gallery


BFA, The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, 1982 Philadelphia College of Art, Philadelphia, PA, 1977 Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa, 1976 Drew University, Madison, NJ, 1974

Winter Tree in the Park, 1995, oil on panel, 13 x 13 inches Image courtesy of the artist


Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Madison, ME, 2013 MFA, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 2010 BA, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 2003 Represented by Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Reading Room, 2012, Oil on Canvas, 84 x 60 inches Image courtesy of the artist and Fleisher/Ollman, Philadelphia


MFA, Painting, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 1988 BA, Fine Arts, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 1983 Skidmore, Summer Six, Saratoga Springs, CT, 1981 Academie Charpentier, Paris, France 1979 Represented by Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Super Altogether Gone, 2015, oil, mixed media on linen, 72 x 60 inches Image courtesy of the artist and Pentimenti Gallery


MFA, Drawing/Painting, California College of the Arts, Oakland, CA, 2005 BFA, Painting, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI, 1998 Represented by Fleisher/Ollman Gallery

New Wave, 2014, acrylic on panel, 28 x 26 inches Image courtesy of the artist and Fleisher/Ollman, Philadelphia. Photo Clare Iltis


MFA, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 1974 BS, Art, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, 1972 Represented by Savery Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Stack, 2015, oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches Image courtesy of the artist and Savery Gallery


MFA, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pa, 2008 BFA, Kendall College of Art& Design of Ferris State University, Grand Rapids, MI, 2006 Represented by City Tattoo Studio, Philadelphia, PA

Beach Towel, Rug, Hallway, Snake, Closed Door, Kitchen, Fabric Sample, 2016, oil on canvas, 18 x 20 inches Image courtesy of the artist and the Central Tattoo Studio



October 20 - November 20, 2016 The Marlin and Regina Miller Gallery Kutztown University

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