Drawing Rooms’ newly expanded space at Topps presents our first major exhibition since the pandemic shut our gallery in March 2020, with a sprawling revue of paintings, assemblages, drawings and prints by one of New Jersey’s hardest working art-couples.
Ani Rosskam and Bill Leech: A Wonderful World, 9/29/22-1/13/23, presents selections from several recent series of works by each artist. In side-by-side studios in their Roosevelt, NJ house which overflows with artwork and artifacts, Ani Rosskam and Bill Leech have been creating their own realities for decades. Although their work is very different from one another’s, their ideas and styles are sometimes influenced by each other due to proximity and shared sensibilities. The exhibit also brings aspects of Ani and Bill’s home/studio right into Drawing Rooms, including some of the popular cultural and uniquely personal things they keep beside them.
Ani Rosskam, “Plop” 2001, Mixed media, 90” x 60” x 2”
Left: Bill Leech, “Man in Blue Suit”, 1995, Acrylic on canvas 76” x 54”
This page: Gallery installation view
Bill Leech, detail from ”Red Forms Across”, 2015, Acrylic on canvas, 46” x 75”
According to Bill Leech, growing up in the wide open spaces of the Midwest played a part in developing his overall sense of composition, color and light.
In these recent abstract works, Bill’s images are characterized by misty areas of colors and superimposed with floating graphic forms that are often repeated and sometimes ‘borrowed’ from other sources. Richly colored orbs, black linear forms and curving shapes made from cut-out stencils are lined up across the canvas, hanging in the atmosphere–a lexicon of often fragmentary pictographs that must be deciphered for themselves.
These paintings and image making systems began their development years before in Bill Leech’s Imaginary Landscape paintings and the same concepts and methods continue to transform in his newest digital print works, examples of which are represented in this exhibit.
Bill Leech, detail from ”Black Forms Across”, 2015, Acrylic on canvas, 43” x 73”
“I grew up in a small town in Kansas, where big skies open up and there is a wonderful sense of vast space around you. I think that influenced my paintings and music early on and still does. I started out painting landscapes and that has evolved into my abstractions today.”- Bill Leech
Bill Leech, “Circles”, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 72” x 102”
Bill Leech, ”Yellow Yelling”, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 24” x 74”
”Pinky Lines”, 2018, Acrylic on canvas, 20” x 32”
“Black In August”, 2021, Acrylic on canvas, 16” x 24”
“Orange One Spot Blue Ball Plus Pink”, 2018, Acrylic on canvas, 16” x 26”
Bill Leech, ”Black Painting Little Pieces,” 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 59” x 37”
Bill Leech, “Man in Blue Suit”, 1995, Acrylic on canvas, 76” x 54”
In Bill Leech’s Imaginary Landscape works, the objects, people, pets and plants are pasted into their world in a perspective that seems to recall Early American naive painting and also makes reference to the ‘floating perspective’ of ancient Chinese landscapes or Indian Miniatures. The figures and objects are often surrounded or isolated by a paint-aura, and exist like symbols, which are on the same plane, but not interacting. Collected images from magazines and popular culture, Shaker Paintings, folk art decorations seen while passing old houses, and many other sources of input inform the works and enhance their uniquely American cultural perspective.
Right: Ani Roskam, Detail from “Bad Posture”, 2021, Mixed media on panel, 48” x 24.5” x 2”
The convergence of objects and ideas intrinsic to the art of collage underlie all of Ani Rosskam’s works. Ani says she strives for a “balance between the familiar and the unexplored by combining elements together in some harmonious way.” Her active and tightly structured compositions, with their deep glowing hues of reds, blues, tans and gold, are places where anything can happen.
In this exhibit, several large and medium scale constructions are presented, along with a series of circle-in-a-square works built from thickly layered cardboard that recall ancient Greek or Roman plates. Pages from Ani’s “Hecky Book”, a visual diary the artist started after her mother’s death, are also included in a portfolio for visitors to page through. In these arresting, vivid, stream-of-consciousness visions, Ani has found a way of piecing together life experiences and creating a visual poem dedicated to her mother’s memory.
Left to right:
“Blueboy and Bush”, 2020, Mixed media on panel 18” x 11.5” x 1”
“Disjointed Off Kilter”, 2020, Mixed media on cardboard, 18” x 18” x 1”
“Life Interrupted”, 2020, Mixed media on panel, 20” x 18.5” x 2” “Two Thorns”, 2021, Mixed media on panel, 22” x 22” x 1”
Ani Rosskam wall installation::
Left to right:
“Water Reflections From Moving Train Wreck”, 2020, Mixed media, 18” x 18” x 1”
“Eye Of The Storm”, 2020, Mixed media, 13” x 13” x 3”
“Hydra Awakened” 2020, Mixed media, 13” x13” x 3”
“Black Bloom At Sunset”, 2020, Mixed media, 13” x 13” x 3”
Top to bottom:
“Yellow Stem”, 2020, Mixed media, 13” x 13” x 3”
“Hotter Than Hades”, 2020, Mixed media, 13” x 13” x3”
“Freefall”, 2020, Mixed media, 13” x 13” x 3”
“Day Reflects Nights Shadow” 2020, Mixed media, 13” x 13” x 3”
Left: “Shadow People”, 2021, Mixed media on canvas, 44” x 34” x 1.5”
Above left to right:
“Teardrop”, 2018, Mixed media on panel, 14” x 12” x 1”
“Bad Posture”, 2021, Mixed media on panel, 48” x 24.5” x 2”
Left to right, “Faces in Landscape”, 2020, Mixed media on panel, 34” x 24” x 2” “Out of Range”, 2022, Mixed media on panel, 32” x 20” x 2”
This exhibit gives us the opportunity to present several large of Ani’s large-scale painting constructions. These multi-panel works often combine both trompe l’oeil painting and abstraction layered with commercial objects such as models of the human body, advertising imagery, antique printed diagrams or old needlepoint work. By adding sometimes real and sometimes printed illustrations of ropes, knots, planks of wood or nets, she not only applies textures to the surfaces, but deepens the mystique and mystery of these tableaus. Each panel, and the collective narrative are dreamworlds to be pondered, that once we are drawn into, we are not certain we will escape from.
Ani Rosskam, “A Walk in the Park”, 2022, Mixed media, on panels 60” x 60” x 2”
Left: “Plop”, 2001, Mixed media on panels, 90” x 60” x 2”
Above: “Hairnet”, 60” x 90”, Mixed media on panels, 60” x 90” x 2”
Above: “Zaped”, 2000, Mixed Media on panels, 48” x 72”
Right: Going Going Gone”, Mixed media on panels, 33” x 29” x 2”
Above Left to right:
“Gentle Breeze, Rough Sea”, 2012, Mixed media on panel, 24” x 24” x 2” (also on opposite page)
“Visit”, 2018, Mixed media on panel, 48” x 48” x 2” “Rewind”, 2021, Mixed media on panel, 27” x 39” x 2”
“I am always coming across unexpected combinations of unusual and ordinary things. Making order and sense out of them becomes an internal challenge that drives my work. I hope to create some balance between the familiar and the unexplored by combining elements together in some harmonious way. My images and materials do have personal meaning, yet the work itself becomes more about the process and the abstraction of elements in hopes of creating a more universal experience.”- Ani Rosskam
Ani Rosskam, “One More Thing On The List”, 2022, Mixed media, 36” x 48” x 2”
Ani Rosskam, “Long Reach” 2021, Mixed media, 26.5” x 78” x 2”
Top to bottom, left to right, “Owl In The Middle”, 2022, Digital print, 8.5” x 11”
“Helmet Head”, 2022, Digital print, 8.5” x 11”
“Mop Tops”, 2022, Digital print, 8.5” x 11”
The Hecky Book
“These small collages are from a personal visual diary I started after my mother’s death. I put together various materials and images, often from my mother’s collections, as a way of piecing together life experiences and creating visual poems. Soon the collages took on a life of their own and the source of inspiration expanded. The Hecky Book became a long memory poem dedicated to her.”- Ani Rossakam
Ani Rosskam, Peaches, Mixed media on paper, 11.75” x 8.75”
Ani Rosskam was born in Puerto Rico, and came to Roosevelt NJ, with her parents, both pioneer documentary photographers, at the urging of their friend, artist Ben Shahn. The town was built for a community of friends and neighbors– artists, writers, musicians and photographers, who moved there to be part of the agro-industrial project. Ani received her BA from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. She also attended the Tanglewood Program in Massachusetts and Skowhegan School in Maine. Ani has had one person shows, been included in museum exhibitions, and has shown her work across the US, including the NJ State Museum, William Paterson University, and Bridgette Mayer Gallery.
Bill Leech grew up in a small town in rural Kansas and attended the Kansas City Art Institute and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Since around 2008, he’s become more focused on abstraction. Bill has been in group shows, as well as solo and two-person shows, across the country. Galleries and museum exhibitions include Accola Griefen Gallery, Ben Shahn Galleries, William Paterson University, Becker Gallery, New Jersey State Museum, Hunterdon Museum of Art and The Painting Center.
About Drawing Rooms
Drawing Rooms is a nonprofit art space and gallery in the Topps Building on the Mana Campus in the Journal Square neighborhood in Jersey City. We show two and threedimensional works by emerging and mid-career artists in NJ and the NY metropolitan area. Our innovative and exciting exhibitions, public programs and publications enrich the lives of our community through an appreciation of and involvement with contemporary art.
Drawing Rooms is operated by Victory Hall Inc. a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization producing exhibitions, programs and public art projects in the NJ/NY area since 2001.
Victory Hall Press
926 Newark Ave Jersey City, NJ 07306
Editing and Design: James Pustorino Anne Trauben
ISBN: 9798370435904 December 2022
Made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts,a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Supported by public funds from the Jersey City Arts and Culture Trust Fund.
This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts /Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, administered by the Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, Thomas A. DeGise, County Executive, and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.