Celia Reisman: Chosen Places

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Celia Reisman Chosen Places

Celia Reisman Chosen Places February 17, 2024 - April 6, 2024 645 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94133 415.434.3055 | www.paulthiebaudgallery.com


The lives and careers of woman artists are often very different from their male counterparts. Too often in the past, and even today, women are asked to take on the preponderance of domestic tasks, which leaves little space or energy at the end of the day for creative work in an art studio. There are women artists, however, who find ways to continue working alongside these types of responsibilities, and discover inspiration along the way. Celia Reisman is one of those artists. Reisman’s subject matter is one closely tied to domestic life and has provided her with an unending array of visual stimulation.

A resident of the suburbs outside Philadelphia for the last four decades, Celia Reisman found inspiration for her well-known suburban housescape paintings soon after moving in. During this period, she was raising her eldest child and she would take him for walks in a stroller around the neighborhood. It was on these walks that Reisman began to observe moments of beauty and inspiration in the way that the light fell on a house or a patch of grass, how the arrangement of the houses created dynamic tensions through their geometries, and how the buildings intersected with the landscape around them. She began carrying a sketchbook and pencil with her thereafter and has continued to do so ever since, though now she uses her car as a portable studio to do her sketching.

The resulting paintings and finished drawings by Reisman were the first by her to focus on suburbia as their subject matter. She has continued in that vein since then and has extended her subject matter to other environments, rural and foreign, with the subject matter still closely tied to domestic life. An American creation largely of the post-war period, suburbia was primarily envisioned as an environment for creating families and could be considered a feminine realm within the built environment. Because Reisman is able to transform these domestic spaces into surprising scenes, she contradicts the notion that suburbia is monotonous and nondescript. Her paintings are as much about how we as a society proscribe the roles of women and the setting for it to take place, as they are about how we organize and form the built environment around us. Subject matter of this type has long not been considered strong or worthy of attention in our culture, but these paintings turn that notion on its head and prove otherwise. They are also perfect examples of the arrangements of forms and colors to create balanced, unified compositions, which is how Reisman tends to think about them.

I give my heartfelt thanks to Celia Reisman for creating this remarkable new series of paintings to exhibit in the gallery. In the following pages you will find a recounted version of the artist’s talk and discussion held during the opening reception for Celia’s exhibition. I thank her too for her willingness to speak so openly about inspiration and motivations behind her work.

Lastly, I would like to acknowledge and thank the Paul Thiebaud Gallery team – Colleen Casey, Matthew Miller, and Gregory Hemming – for their contributions and support in making this exhibition a success.

Chosen Places Artist Talk

Born in Syracuse, New York and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Celia Reisman attended Carnegie-Mellon University for undergraduate studies and later earned her MFA from the Yale School of Art. She has exhibited her works across the United States for many years and has been exhibiting at Paul Thiebaud Gallery since 2010, with Chosen Places being her third exhibition at the gallery. On February 17, 2024, during the opening reception for her exhibition, Celia Reisman and Gallery Director, Greg Flood, held an artist talk and discussion about Reisman’s works for those in attendance. The following text is a recounted version of that conversation that has been edited for clarity. We hope you find it as illuminating as those in attendance did.

Greg Flood: To start near the beginning, when and how did you become interested in art and when did you decide on painting as your medium of choice? What was your schooling like at CarnegieMellon and at the Yale School of Art?

Celia Reisman: My art education began in Cleveland Heights at the junior and high school level with committed art teachers. Near the end of high school, I received a National Scholastic Art Scholarship, which allowed me to attend Carnegie-Mellon. During my first year, we worked from direct observation. Afterwards, we were encouraged to forge our own path. I decided to paint and make prints. At Yale, painters and printmakers were combined so I continued to explore both areas and started to paint from direct observation.

GF: Did you start painting land and housescapes or something else? When did you come to choose housescapes as a primary subject for your paintings and what led you to that at decision?

CR: I always used what was around me as subject matter. I grew up in a deaf household. My father was particularly observant and would make me aware of my everyday environment. His pointing out different kinds of plants and trees, a bird perched on a limb, or some strange contraption in the back of a house always made me more observant. Paying attention to how weather and light affected the landscape was also a part of our excursions. He was always looking and asked us to look along with him.

After graduate school, my subject matter included interior room environments and figures. When I moved to where I have lived for the last 40 years, I started to walk the neighborhood after I had my first child. During these walks, so many places struck me as potential subject matter, and this is when I developed this body of work. Like Morandi with his bottles, architectural landscapes are versatile for me. Many different approaches can be applied to the endless supply of images. At first, I made small work, starting four new paintings every month, even if the previous ones weren’t finished. I limited my color palette and also removed the sky and foreground so that I concentrated on how the planes of the buildings combined with natural forms. Eventually, I increased the scale of the paintings, adding more color and developing more complicated spaces.

GF: Tell us about your relationship to color. None of your paintings depict the actual colors you saw when sketching the scene, but they still hold together as something true when we look at them. How do you choose the color palette for each painting?

CR: My color choices differ from painting to painting. Usually there is a dominant color in the scene, for example a red house, which I use as an anchor. I then decide if the overall palette will be warm or cool. I select two to three colors, for example a red, a green and a blue that will be the basis for the work. This includes complimentary colors so I can mix grays interspersed with exaggerated color. Sometimes I honor the local color, such as grass being green, but the particular green has to work within the overall color structure. I want large areas of color, with similar value but different hue, to contrast with areas of dark and light. More intense color is added as small surprises as the painting develops. Balancing the relationships of value and color abstractly is important instead of accuracy to the scene. I try very hard to keep the color unified because my tendency is to explore so many color variations.

GF: This past summer, you made a trip to Ireland to teach at the Burren College of Art. Tell us about your time there and about the paintings in the exhibition you began while there?

CR: I was asked to teach a short workshop with a painting friend who lives in the Burren on the west coast of Ireland. We team taught a class based on abstracting the landscape. Using an array of materials – gel prints, rubbings, collage, drawings, and photographs – each student explored their own approach. Showing examples of artists whose work was experimental and abstract opened the doors for the students to investigate their own interests.

In that part of Ireland, there are large expanses of open space, with large rock formations and very green pastures, which is entirely different from where I live. Because of this, and how buildings in Ireland are set into the land, I was able to use more organic forms with less prominent architecture and find locations that combined both the grandeur of the land with the intimacy of home. Using Gustave Klimt’s idea of a close-up view like a telescope or view finder, I focused on a portion of the view rather than a grand vista in these works. I continued my approach by rearranging the placement and scale of landscape and using exaggerated color when I started making the paintings back in my studio.

GF: You’ve written that your paintings form a journal or biography of your life and travels. What can you tell us about some of the other works in the exhibition?

CR: My paintings reflect where I live and have traveled to visit family, friends, and new destinations. There are always locations that attract my attention for a variety of reasons. Seasons, the time of day, and the color of buildings provide an array of inspiration for images. There is always more than meets the eye, and so working with this subject matter means I have to select and decide what I want to connect to in the landscape. One painting in the exhibition is from Marin County in California from when I was visiting a few years back. It depicts a small entrance way to a home with nothing special about it, but the combination of color with the buildings and the fences made me stop to make a very quick drawing. When I worked on it in my studio, I intensify the color, altered the perspective, and made the place feel more than it is.

GF: For many, if not all, of your paintings, you create a sketch in your notebook while situated in the place that has caught your eye. Tell us about your process for creating your paintings. How does the finished drawing in the show relate to the drawings you make in your sketchbook and to your paintings?

CR: Over the years I have developed a two-step process.

The first step is to make gouache drawings from life, observing and composing. It’s a spontaneous approach as I edit, construct, modify and change viewpoints. I record information about color, shapes, scale, and light that I can use back in the studio. I usually use my car as a private studio space and return to the location over several days, at the same time of day, to capture what I see.

The second step is more analytical and constructed. I develop the painting in the studio using the drawing and my memory as a resource. I try not to replicate the drawing but use it as a starting point. I impose an abstracted structure using large areas to define the space. Each painting has its own color relationships based on the drawing. I decide on the area of focus and how to travel and move the eye around the painting. How to use detail, exaggerated color and light are all decisions that are made as the painting develops. It’s a puzzle that has its own life.

GF: You mentioned near the beginning of our conversation that you used to paint figures when you first got out of graduate school. Having looked at several years of your paintings, I have seen figures appear occasionally in them, including in the window of the house in SD Garden. Since they are generally absent, how does a painting tell you a figure is needed?

CR: If there is an area in a painting that could include a subtle narrative, I include a figure. The overwhelming agenda is to showcase the surprising aspects of our environment. A figure becomes another aspect of that story but not the main event. Using a window or doorway, a figure can be present, or in the landscape, but never to take over. Sometimes a figure enters into the painting but doesn’t work so it gets removed. I like the inclusion of the figure as a surprise so maybe figures will become more prominent.

GF: You have spoken about how over time you have become more minimal in the amount of details you include in your paintings. Do you see a continued reduction happening in the works you are painting now or will make in the future?

CR: My desire to make the work more minimal has more to do with the overall feeling. Using larger areas that refer to sky or foreground helps the viewer feel as if they’re entering into a perceptual reality; that it’s a believable world even though it’s not realism. I like to make paintings that are complex and ask the viewer to stay and spend time looking. Finding large, simpler areas that contrast with smaller areas of detail sets up a dynamic relationship. Figuring out how to balance all the various contrasts of value, color, and shape, while still honoring the image, is what keeps me engaged.


Front Lupines, 2023, oil on canvas, 38 x 36 inches Marin County, 2021, oil on linen mounted on panel, 20 x 16 inches
Garden, 2023, oil on canvas, 30 x 36 inches
Chartreuse Heaven, 2023, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches Uphill Pink, 2023, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches Burren Cluster, 2023, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches Neighborhood Lupines, 2023, graphite and gouache on paper, 27 3/4 x 19 inches Gela’s Field, 2023, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches Ocean Front, 2023, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches Front Poppies, 2023, oil on canvas, 38 x 36 inches
Valentine Night, 2023, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches
Atlantic Way, 2023, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches
Light Poppies, 2022, oil on linen mounted on panel, 20 x 16 inches Neighborhood Poppies, 2023, graphite and gouache on paper, 24 7/8 x 19 inches
Surprise Pink, 2020, oil on canvas, 14 x 11 inches
Robinson Night, 2021, oil on silk mounted on panel, 14 x 11 inches
Hartford Village, 2023, oil on canvas, 30 x 44 inches


Born 1950 in Syracuse, NY


1978 MFA, Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT

1971 BFA, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

1971 Blossom Art Program, Kent State University, Kent, OH

Professional Experience

2020 Visiting Artist, Mt. Gretna School of Art, Mt. Gretna, PA

2019 Visiting Professor, Art New England, Bennington College, Bennington, VT

2013 Visiting Artist, Mt. Gretna School of Art, Mt. Gretna, PA

2010–2013 Visiting Critic, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia, PA

2012 Visiting Professor in Painting, The International School for Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture, Montecastello di Vibio, Umbria, Italy (summer)

2010 Visiting Professor, Studio Art Department, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

1990–2008 Assistant Professor, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA

2007 Visiting Artist, “Daniel Garber Exhibition”, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA Visiting Artist, Art Department, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH

Visiting Artist, Art Department, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

1985–2002 Visiting Assistant Professor, Art Department, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

2001 Visiting Artist, Trinity College, Hartford, CT

Selected Awards and Residencies

2023 Burren Artist Residency, The Burren, Ireland

2015 Borgo Finnochietto Residency, Buonconvento, Italy

2009 Hassam, Speicher, Betts, and Symons Fund Purchase, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY

Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Residency, Taos, NM

2004 Rochfort-en-Terre Painting Residency, Brittany, France

2001 Leeway Foundation - Window of Opportunity Award

Pennsylvania Council on the Arts - SOS Grant

1999 Ragdale Foundation Residency, Lake Forest, IL

Open Studio Press, Mid-Atlantic Artists Catalog

1996 Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Residency, Amherst, VA

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2024 Chosen Places, Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2022 Side Streets, Back Roads, Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

2020 Borderlands, Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

2019 The Vermont Paintings, Big Town Gallery, Rochester, VT


2013 A Certain Slant – Paintings and Drawings, Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Hidden Spaces, The Anne Reid ’72 Art Gallery, Princeton Day School, Princeton, NJ

2011 Paintings, Paul Thiebaud Gallery, New York, NY

2018 Endless Readings, Art Space, HACC Lancaster Campus, Lancaster, PA
2017 A Moment Noticed, Gross McCleaf
, St. Supéry Estate
2016 Paintings &
Vineyards & Winery, Rutherford,
Recent Paintings, Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco, CA


Paintings, Upper Jewett Exhibition Corridor, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Celia Reisman & Susan Lichtman, Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadephia, PA

Paintings, Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2009 Paintings, Fountain Restaurant, Four Seasons Hotel, Philadelphia, PA

Susan Lichtman & Celia Reisman, Lenore Gray Gallery, Providence, RI

2007 Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

2006 Les Yeux du Monde, Charlottesville, VA

2004 Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

2001 Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, New York, NY


Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Fifteen Year Survey, James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA

Tasis American School, Surrey, England

1999 Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

1997 Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

1995 Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA


Cleaver Callahan Gallery, New York, NY

1990 List Gallery, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA

1988 Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Selected Group Exhibitions

2023 WORRY: Our Anxious Age, Soft Machine Gallery, Allentown, PA

2021 Inside Looking Out, Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

2019 Tiger Strikes Asteroid Presents: In Front of Your Eyes, Greenville Center for Creative Arts, Greenville, SC

Social Networks, Thomas Deans Gallery, Atlanta, GA

2018 Spring Expedition/Flower Paintings, Morpeth Contemporary, Hopewell, NJ

2017 Baker’s Dozen, Big Town Gallery, Rochester, VT

Select Gallery Members Group Show, Big Town Gallery, Rochester, VT

2017 Women Now, Avery Galleries, Bryn Mawr, PA

Invented Landscapes, Biggs Museum, Dover, DE

2016 Philadelphia Painters, The Marlin and Regina Miller Gallery, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown, PA

Painting in the Neighborhood, Big Town Gallery, Rochester, VT Near and Far, Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

2015 Women’s Work: A Group Show, R.B. Stevenson Gallery, La Jolla, CA

EXPO Chicago, Festival Pavilion, Navy Pier, Chicago, IL

artMRKT San Francisco, Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA

2014 Seven Women Painters, BigTown Gallery, Rochester, VT


2012 Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Story, Symbol, Self, James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA

All About Etching, Neptune Fine Art, Washington, DC

The Female Gaze: Women Artists Making their World, The Linda Lee Alter Collection of Art by Women, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA



2009 On the Landscape: A Feminine Eye, BigTown Gallery, Rochester, VT

artMRKT San Francisco, Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA
EXPO Chicago, Festival Pavilion, Navy Pier, Chicago, IL artMRKT San Francisco, Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA
Pennsylvania Landscapes, Lancaster Museum of Art, Lancaster, PA Coast to Coast, Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Texas Contemporary Art Fair, George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston, TX artMRKT San Francisco, Concourse Exhibition Center, San Francisco, CA
C.R. Ettinger Print Studio Selections, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Selected Group Exhibitions (cont.)

2009 Exhibition of Works by Newly Elected Members and Recipients of Honors and Awards, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY

Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY

A Dog’s Life, Memphis College of Art Gallery, Memphis, TN

Color Key, The Painting Center, New York, NY


Marking the Landscape, SUNY Genesco School of Art, Genesco, NY

Art of the State, State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA

Big, Bold, Beautiful, State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA

2007 Landscape, The Painting Center, New York, NY

2002 Two American Painters: Celia Reisman and Mark Green, FIVE Princelet Street Gallery, London, England

1999 Small Things, Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, New York, NY

Darkness, Les Yeux du Monde, Charlottesville, VA

1998 In Her Own Voice: Self Portraits, Berman Art Museum, Collegeville, PA

Landscape: Observed, Remembered, Invented, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT

Small Painting Invitational, Blue Mountain Gallery, New York NY


Rediscovering the Landscape of the Americas, Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Tucson Museum of Art; Art Museum of South Texas; Western Washington University Art Gallery; Memorial Art Gallery; Gibbs Museum of Art (catalogue)

1996 Spirit of Nature, MB Modern, New York, NY


Winter Show, Painting Center, New York, NY

The Artist as Native: Reinventing Regionalism, Babcock Gallery; Middlebury College Museum of Art; Albany Institute of Art; Owensboro Museum of Art; Westmoreland Museum of Art (catalogue)

Publications and Reviews

2022 Johnson, Elizabeth. “A Way, A Direction: A Conversation with Celia Reisman”, Art Sync, September 2022.

2020 Reisman, Celia. “Celia Reisman, Borderlands Landscape Paintings”

2016 Wood, Antrese. “Celia Reisman”, audio blog post, savvypainter.com, June 23, 2016.

2015 Groff, Larry. “California Paintings”, paintingperceptions.com, June 11, 2015.

2013 Mangravite, Andrew. “A Certain Slant”, Gross McCleaf Gallery, Broad Street Review, April 2013.

Purcell, Janet. “Princeton Day School”, The Times of Trenton, January 2013.

2012 Jenkins, Mark. “All About Etching”, Neptune Fine Art, Washington Post, October 2012.

n/Susan Van Dogen. “Close to Home: Michener Museum”, centraljersey.com, October 2011.

2011 Edith Newhall, “Scripted”, Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia Inquirer, August 2011.

Goodrich, John. Review, City Arts Magazine, NY, April 2011.

Kehoe, Catherine. Interview, powersofobservation.com, April 2011.

Groff, Larry. Interview, paintingperceptions.com, June 2011.

2010 Feinstein, Lea. Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco, ArtNews, May 2010.

Hanson, Alex. Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, Valley News, August 2010.

Sozanski, Edward. Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia Inquirer, January 2010.

Peterson, Brian. “The Smile at the Heart of Things; Essays”.

2009 Donohoe, Victoria. Wallingford Art Gallery, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 2009.

Rahn, Amy. “A Feminine Eye”, Big Town Gallery, VT, October 2009.

2008 Scott, Bill. Gross McCleaf Gallery, Art in America, September 2008.

2007 Newhall, Edith. Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 2007.

2004 Gross McCleaf Gallery, Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof Artblog December 2004.


Fallon, Roberta. Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia Weekly, December 2004.

Sozanski, Edward. Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia Inquirer, December 2004.

2002 Latter, Ruth. “Contemporary Realism”, The Daily Progress, September 2002.

Biberman, Jane. “Private Worlds”, Montgomery Town and Country, December 2002.

Salvadove, Larry. “Landscapes/Mindscapes”, The Breakers, August 2002.



Biberman, Jane. Gross McCleaf Gallery, Art Matters, January 2001.

Sozanski, Edward. Michener Museum, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 2000.

Francis, Naila. Michener Museum, Intelligent Record, September 2000.

Selected Public Collections

Arcadia College

Bell Atlantic

Camden County Cultural Association

Federal Home Mortgage Association

First National Bank of Maryland

General Electric

James A. Michener Art Museum

Linda Lee Alter Collection

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Philadelphia Community College

Springfield Museum of Art

State Museum of Pennsylvania

University City Science Center

US State Department

Cover: Front Lupines (detail), 2023

Rear Cover: Burren Cluster (detail), 2023

Copyright 2024 Paul Thiebaud Gallery. All Rights Reserved. Images copyright 2024 Celia Reisman.

Design: Greg Flood and Matthew Miller

All images, photo: Matthew Miller

No portion of this document may be reproduced or stored without the express written permission of the copyright holder(s).

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