OPENING RECEPTION with the Artist – December 8th, 6-8pm
ON VIEW through January 21st
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present Face it!, an exhibitionfilling the gallery with thousands of sketches by the celebrated Italian architect Andrea Ponsi. A world-renowned urban planner, designer, draftsman, painter, writer, and professor of architectural design, Ponsi articulates his multifaceted ideas on paper and in practice.
When not working on architectural drafts, Ponsi habitually sketches faces. Even in his youth, his “school diaries were full of faces.” Decades ago Ponsi found, as he sat in his office on the phone throughout the day, that his restless hands would begin sketching faces on the nearest surface, the ubiquitous post-it note. Utilizing his extensive art historical knowledge, these faces are manifested in a dizzying array of styles, from meticulous studies reminiscent of Daumier or Goya to quick caricatures evocative of Hirschfeld and Steadman. Ponsi is quick to clarify that “none of [the faces] belong to a specific real person,” rather, they are all drawn from his lively imagination. These post-it note sketches, now numbering well over 20,000 in total, have been compiled in the monograph Face it! and exhibited at galleries throughout the country.
For Ponsi, drawing, or “line work” as he terms it, is a foundational element in his life. Architectural drafts, furniture designs, reflective sketches, it is through his sketchbook that he articulates his ideas and visions of the surrounding world. Growing up in Tuscany and spending his university years in Florence provided Ponsi with a rich artistic history to draw from; but it was his subsequent travels throughout Europe, South America, Asia, and more than a decade living in the United States, that helped him craft his personal expression. While his perceptual architectural watercolors espouse a prosaic elegance of form and function, it is the post-it note sketches that offer a decidedly unedited portal into Ponsi’s buzzing mind, melding years of observation and study onto a little yellow square.
Ponsi, whose architectural firm is based in Florence, splits his time between the US and Italy as a visiting professor at numerous universities, currently lecturing at the University of Maryland.
Read the review from the internationally renowned design and architecture magazine, Abitare here.
Read The Washington Post's review of the show here.
Following last year’s successful retrospective at America University’s Museum at the Katzen, Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present "Southern (ir)Reverence," an exhibition of new paintings by William Dunlap in honor of his recent publication of collected short stories, Short Mean Fiction (Nautilus Press). For over four decades, Dunlap has made his career as an artist and writer, as well as an arts commentator for PBS known for his lively critiques featured on WETA’s ‘Around Town’ program. “Hypothetical realism” is the self-coined term Dunlap uses to characterize his creative style; put plainly, "the places and things [he] paint[s] and describe[s] are not real, but they could be." Dunlap’s grand southern landscapes are cinematic in scope, with lushly saturated colors and expansive vistas, nearly overwhelming the viewer with the scale of their environments. Beguiling and seemingly idyllic, his scenes are often underscored by a touch of the southern gothic, from tombstones to decapitated deer to hunting dogs. Dunlap’s work is redolent of his vast knowledge of art history, while at the same time imbued with the puckish wit that has become something of a signature in his art.
Short Mean Fiction provides a counter-point to his paintings, highlighting the wilder side of Dunlap’s imagination with roughly drawn sketches and rowdy flash fiction stories. The new, beautifully bound boxed-set is published in an edition of 20 and includes 12 numbered prints of the sketches contained in the book, as well as an original inscribed sketch by the artist himself.
Dunlap’s paintings, sculpture and constructions are included in numerous prestigious collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, Lauren Rogers Museum, Mobil Corporation, Riggs Bank, IBM Corporation, Federal Express, The Equitable Collection, Rogers Ogden Collection, Arkansas Art Center, the United States State Department, and United States Embassies throughout the world; in addition to his many articles and reviews, which have been featured in countless magazines and newspapers throughout his career. He currently lives the migratory life, splitting his time amongst studios in Mississippi, Florida, and Northern Virginia.
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present Termini, a conversation on death, both symbolic and physical, featuring cinerary jars by Julian Stair, white ceramics by Rob Barnard, and works on paper by Rebecca Cross. The tactile minimalism of Stair and Barnard’s ceramics provoke a reverential contemplation on the solitude of death, while the graphic minimalism of Cross’s renderings of primeval weaponry display an objective curiosity about the harbingers of death. Historically, covered jars and weapons are emblematic of the passage into the hereafter, carrying remains and slaying adversaries; however, they are at the same time merely tools, utilized by disparate cultures around the globe is strikingly similar ways. Termini strips away the pomp and ceremony of death to lay bare the utilitarian tools that carry one into the afterlife.
Stair, the eminent British potter and historian of ceramics, has built a reputation around the world for his powerfully evocative vessels. A former studiomate of Edmund de Waal, the renowned potter and author of The Hare with the Amber Eyes, Stair’s work is similarly minimalist, using simple forms to great emotional effect, as in the full-size sarcophagi crafted for his Quietus exhibitions of 2012 and 2016. Stair’s reverence towards death is exceedingly evident through his work in Quietus, from which the cinerary jars on display in Termini were taken; using a variety of clays, from basalt to porcelain, Stair’s hand-thrown jars bask in the tactile immediacy of their materials, stripping away the garish adornments of modern urns to focus, instead, on the earth from which the clay came, and to which we all return. As a scholar, Stair’s essays have been featured in numerous publications, including Art in America and Ceramic Review, and will be part of the catalogue for the upcoming exhibition, Things of Beauty Growing, at the Yale Center for British Art, where his ceramics will also be showcased alongside those of Edmund de Waal and Felicity Ayelieff.
Barnard likewise emphasizes the physicality of the materials in his whiteware, allowing the white slip to form idiosyncratic cracks and drips instead of uniformly smooth surfaces. Another scholar of ceramics, Barnard has spent much of his career studying the traditional techniques of Japan. The choice of the color white for the slips is noteworthy, as white has historically connoted ideas of divinity and tranquility in eastern cultures, obliquely referencing the purity of death. Heavily influenced by his time working under the illustrious Yagi Kazuo, founder of the Sōdeisha movement in Japanese ceramics, Barnard’s work favors biomorphic sculptural characteristics in place of polished functionality. Currently based in western Virginia, this is Barnard’s first show with Cross MacKenzie Gallery.
Cross provides a stark contrast to the meditative ceramics of Stair and Barnard, with monochromatic drawings of ancient weaponry, from Indian war clubs to Fijian cannibal forks. Whether by illness, accident, or wittingly, the moment when a living organism suddenly transforms into cold matter is inherently violent. Cross’s works are unabashed contemplations of that transition, recalling one to the primal nature of death. The graphic abstraction of the weapons also recalls to the viewer that at the basest level, these are tools given purpose by individuals. Like the vessels of Stair and Barnard, Cross’s weapons are merely tools intended for use by a solitary person as part of the passage into the next world. Whether the objects are used upon the living or dead is irrelevant, as they are presented here as abstractions connoting the movement across planes of existence, not merely an act.
Macho - The Mask of Masculinity
Curated by Rebecca Cross Apprentice Curator: Sarah Burford
On view at the DC Arts Center (2438 18th St, NW) April 28 - May 28
Opening Reception: Friday, April 28, 7-9 pm Artist Talk and Closing Reception: Sunday, May 21, 5 pm
Opening Reception at Cross MacKenzie Gallery: Friday, June 9, 6-8 pm
Works by: Damon Arhos, Michael Corigliano, Hector Emanuel, Timothy Johnson, Mark Newport, Joseph Daniel Robert OLeary, Kate Warren, Dawn Whitmore
Definition from the Oxford English Dictionary:
noun 1. a man who is aggressively proud of his masculinity.
“Macho” takes as its point of departure recent debates about the role of men in contemporary society. As we began exploring ideas for this exhibition, we continuously came across examples of work showcasing people who were “projecting” an air of strength and masculinity rather than openly revealing their authentic male selves. These remarkable artists all react, in their own ways, to the promulgated notion that “masculinity” itself is not a trait that simply exists, but rather one that needs to be worn like a mask. Masks of real and imaginary uniforms, physical poses and symbolic props, aid the figures in projecting this shroud of self-aggrandizement. The concept reaches far beyond the limits of a single exhibition, but we present this provocative group of artists making engaging, surprising and challenging art around this subject as a means of furthering the existing dialogue, exposing both the disturbing and comical evocations of our title to engage with the conflicting realities of post-modern manhood.
Three thematic elements run through this exhibition of proudly projected masculinity; elements that can be externally adopted, worn or expressed - literally or figuratively – to inhabit a macho identity.
The POSES The PROPS The COSTUMES
Body language itself cues the viewer to see a figure as “aggressively and proudly masculine.” The body here is tantamount: physical superiority is central to so many stereotypically “male” traits, such as strength, bravery, physical prowess, and power. A universal pose expressing such power is with the head up, chest out and biceps lifted and flexed. This stance projecting strength and dominance, may intimidate or threaten others with implied violence; muscles are flexed in a show of warning that commands respect or fear. Conversely, the swagger of cool that demonstrates a quiet confidence, unaffected by all external forces, is an equally macho pose. Relaxed, hands in pockets or belt loops, with a preternatural calm, is a restrained act of projected masculinity in the language of the body.
Dawn Whitmore’s photograph of a female body builder demonstrates that even women can inhabit the “macho” of masculinity in her visual explorations of women’s competitive weight lifting. By empowering the body with physical strength and adopting the physicality of men, Whitmore’s subjects expose the reality that masculinity does not belong to men alone. With her proud act of display and flexed biceps, her subject’s body becomes its own macho prop.
Damon Arhos’ oversized canvas ”Pomp” parodies the spectacle of the macho power pose. Arhos shows an un-athletic, regular guy flexing his biceps - and in so doing, comically deconstructs the stance when there are no muscles to back up such a display of dominance. The masked figure, weak in a rumpled T-shirt, bald and beardless standing in front of an unspecified continent and presiding over a networked, connected landscape, may be making the point that to dominate the world in the current technological sphere, the nerd needs brain, not brawn. Leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs project power through their convention-shattering collarless shirts and hoodies, eschewing the rugged outdoorsman image, and like the man in “Pomp,” sporting pasty indoor physiques.
In photographs from her “All Dudes all Nudes” series, Kate Warren’s men adopt that macho pose with bulging biceps, while wearing costumes that complicate this performance of gender. In one image, a man incorporates some cross dressing mixed with a seductive Marilyn Monroe-like pose revealing a man’s chest, women’s make-up and a sailor’s hat. Warren’s subjects play with these signifiers in a dynamic mash-up of projected sexual identity drawing from all columns. On and off stage, the poses are an act, but they truly express the underlying undeniable carnal macho male.
Hector Emmanuel’s beautiful black and white portrait of a musician embodies the three areas of “Macho – The Mask of Masculinity” in a single poignant photograph. Relaxed into a power stance of “cool,” bedecked with tattoos on his hefty forearms, these insignias serve as permanent props, decorating the body with a full-time “masculine” costume. Donning status symbols of a branded Polo shirt and Gucci belt, his subject’s selections signify the financial success of the wearer, with a nod to the wealthy elite and the fashion line inspired by the game exclusive to the rich and royal. The dangling decked-out rosary and cross represent - beyond the jewelry ”bling” factor for the costume, perhaps the message of being a member of the dominant Christian culture in spite of his minority race. Or is it a display of defiance? Or humility to the all-powerful spiritual “Macho” in the sky? The effect of the costume is alluring and unmistakably masculine.
Throughout the history of art, props associated with projecting manly power included military regalia, imposing stallions, vanquished beasts, extravagant riches and deadly weapons. Michael Corigliano creates ceramic headdresses worn by his subjects that dictate the behavior of the men in his performance pieces. Who you are is represented by the symbolism in the style of hair on your head. His photographic triptych, “Stumbling” defies the typical male props and suggests that a more domestic “macho” character is emerging in this stay-at-home-dad era, in images of men with a mop in one hand, protective rubber gloves in the other--but also with a cigar and a beer. With unapologetic humor, the artist suggests a wider range of activities can be included within the extended map of self-expression and labor available to the modern man. If a counterpoint to women’s increased role in the workplace is men’s increased labor at home, Corigliano’s subjects seem to be “stumbling” with ambivalence and apprehension, towards expanded notions of gender roles.
Joseph Daniel Robert O’Leary’s bold photographs of men cover a range of male props including paraphernalia from academia, business, hunting and the military, but his series “Of Beards and Men” examines the beard as a commanding marker of masculine authority. The series presents images of 150 bearded men pushing the limits of their own male identity through various shapes and styles of facial hair. While this signifier of virility is an authentic feature of male biology, in our contemporary culture, fashionable men may also wax or shave their body hair, removing it to resemble pre-pubescent boys or females. Wearing a beard therefore registers like a costume, an intentional projection of the masculine.
Timothy Johnson’s painting of a man holding a pretty pink floral plate goes beyond the women’s-work props appropriated by Michael Corigliano’s men. The title, “Breast Plate,” serves as a play-on-words, replacing the armor historically worn by men in battle with a very different kind of plate – a family heirloom. In this self-portrait, Johnson instead lovingly holds his grandmother’s dinner plate, embracing its beauty and all the references the pretty prop implies - home, food, nurturing family, decoration – all traditionally feminine nesting territory.
Michael Corigliano dresses himself in three different costumes to play three different roles using everyday clothes along with his handmade headpieces to inhabit each distinct persona. Mark Newport’s cable-knit suits, on the other hand, are masks from head to toe, completely enshrouding the wearer in a costume of projected masculine power. Inspired by childhood superheroes, the artist parodies the ubiquitous comic book characters invading our adult culture, most inescapably in Hollywood. The costumes combine their heroic, protective, ultra-masculine references with soft, vulnerable personas created by the comforting gestures of a knitting mother figure. The artist embraces this historically feminine art form, and knits these figures himself. Life sized, these suits offer the promise to transform oneself by dressing up, to live a fantasy so popular it speaks to how powerless men feel in their real skin and their boardroom power-suits, unable to fight the battles of contemporary life. Conversely, the real, quotidian costumes worn by O’Leary’s bearded men and Corigliani’s slipper-clad domestic power-brokers do not always mask men’s vulnerability.
In our culture of masculinity, some men feel they have to sublimate tender and “needy” feelings into sexual desire. Boys and young men struggle to stay true to their authentic selves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity. If men and boys were permitted to own the full range of their emotions, they could take off their masks.
As the new masculinity evolves alongside, and parallel to, the growing women’s movement, it is changing in this next generation to include a wider definition that embraces fatherhood and domesticity, revealing a picture of what “Macho” might look like beyond the confines of existing masculine stereotypes. These extraordinary artists depict a continued negotiation of the conflicts in post-modern manhood and point towards a deeper expression of man’s full range of proud masculinity.
Leslie Parke & Beth Kaminstein - May 2017
OPENING RECEPTION May 5th, 6-8pm
On view through June 3rd, 2017
Photographs by Leslie Parke and Ceramics by Beth Kaminstein
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to announce our upcoming exhibition of new photographs and ceramics by two extraordinary artists who are showing their work together for the first time. Leslie Parke’s photographs and Beth Kaminstein’s ceramics explore reflective and seductive surfaces in widely different medium but with the same passion and visual complexity.
Beth Kaminstein, whose work we last paired with her mentor Helen Frankenthaler, deftly wields layers of glaze on her oversized clay vessels as the painter stained and poured paint on her canvases. The colors are fluid and watery – her intuitive gestures and painterly surprises dash across the stoneware surface. Her glazes are smooth and reflective and pool in glassy deep pockets then push up against raw rough and matte clay. The tactile quality does not need to be resisted – these functional works of art can elegantly serve up your favorite poached salmon.
Leslie Parke is first and foremost an accomplished painter whose “Beach China” show was celebrated by the Washington Community at Cross MacKenzie in 2013 and described in The Post as “emphatic and enveloping”. Parke has long used photography as a tool to capture images in the world she likes to study and use as source material for her complex and detailed paintings. She would then translate these ambiguous subjects of reflected insulation foil, saran wrapped recycling blocks or tire-tread puddles into a language of abstraction, using gesture and paint to create luscious bold canvases. Recently, a museum director asked why she didn’t print the beautiful photographs themselves and recognize the prints as ends in themselves, stand alone works of art. She did just that and after honing these images using her digital paint brush she created a body of work of photographs She still grapples with the Modernist concern with abstraction and surface, but now in a 21st-century digital language.
Parke says, “They incorporate contemporary concerns about the nature of reality, the trustworthiness of our perceptions and the sustainability of our civilization, while offering visual and intellectual delight.”
“My approach remains largely that of a painter. I want the photograph to look like a painting and be responded to as a painting. I looked at archival inkjet printers as a new painting medium. Basically I was painting with a camera. I undo what it is that we understand about something. Is it a painting or a photograph? Is it something real or something abstract? Are we looking through something, at something, or at something reflected? I think that the more times I am able to multiply these questions, the more interesting things become.”
Leslie Parke, an artist from upstate New York, is a recipient of the Esther and Adolph Gottlieb Grant for Individual Support, the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest grant as artist- in-residence at the Claude Monet Foundation in Giverny, France, and the George Sugarman Foundation Grant, among others. Her exhibits include the Williams College Museum of Art; The Bennington Museum, Bennington, Vermont; the Museum of the Southwest, Midland, Texas; the Fernbank Museum, Atlanta, Georgia; the Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin; and the Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Parke has a BA and MA from Bennington College. Her work is in numerous corporate and private collections.
A New York City native, Beth Kaminstein has been a practicing ceramist since her student days at Bennington College, after which she worked and taught at the Greenwich House Pottery, Parsons School of Art and Montclair State College. Her foray into female weigh lifting after college won her second prize in the Untied States. This demonstration of her dedication and willpower is evidenced more recently in her community activism. She lives and works in an idyllic setting in the Florida Keys where in addition to making her own art, she is a leader in the arts community, serving on the county public arts board, building schools, aquatic centers and teaching ceramics. She recently organized and curated a seminal exhibition in the Keys of paintings by renowned artists Larry Poons and Jules Olitski who both worked on Islamorada.
"Wells" by Esther Ruiz - April 2017
OPENING RECEPTION April 8th, 5-7pm
On view through May 3rd
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present “Wells,” by Esther Ruiz. Ruiz’s “Wells,” cut plexiglass shapes rimmed by neon tubing, entice the viewer into the abyss while distorting that which stares out. Drawing from the sculptural language of Dan Flavin, and the incandescent imagery of science fiction literature, Ruiz’s sculptures are at once both sentimental of the past and evocatively futuristic.
Ruiz, in her own words, began the “Wells” series in 2014 “as wormholes or portals to…other worlds.” Fittingly, these amorphous plexiglass shapes, rimmed in otherworldly light, warp any reflections and project alternative vantages of the surrounding environment. The viewer is guided in to the alien vistas through the welcoming allure of colors and materials, materials so redolent of the popular culture of the last three decades that they appear harmless and almost insubstantial. Ruiz crafts her “Wells” with a disarming playfulness reminiscent of that childish sense of wonder, which sees the world as it is and at the same time the grand possibilities of what could be.
Esther Ruiz received a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art from Rhodes College in 2011. She has since shown nationally and internationally at various galleries, including New Release Gallery, Planthouse Gallery, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Platform Baltimore, Vox Populi, Field Projects, Fridman Gallery, Regina Rex, and The American Center for Physics, as well as being awarded the Artist Grant and Williamsburg Studio Lottery by Spaceworks. Born in Houston, Texas, Ruiz currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Dreamscapes - March 2017
Landscapes by Mary Armstrong and Phillip Adams
OPENING RECEPTION - March 10th, 6-8pm
On view through April 6th
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present “Dreamscapes,” a two-person exhibition of landscapes by Mary Armstrong and Phillip Adams. Her third show with Cross MacKenzie, Armstrong’s ethereal landscapes explore the symbiotic relationship between the earth and its atmosphere, evoking both a sense of serenity and turmoil in nature. Adams, too, builds a dialectic within his landscapes, but his is a playful imagining of constructions projected onto the stark quietude of the powerful mountains.
Armstrong’s abstract interpretations of a landscape and views of a distant horizon are informed by 19th century painting approaches. Yet the artist’s method of scraping through luscious wax and oils on panel in order to reveal hyped-up colors from underneath, lend her work a decidedly contemporary vibe. Armstrong’s fascination and deep appreciation for the world outside her studio has led her to translate both the physical and metaphysical elements of nature with a certain type of reverence, hovering in between the earthly and the airy worlds. Her veneration of the beauty and power of the natural landscape is evident in the noticeable lack of man’s encroachment onto the vistas, save for the technology implicit in the aerial vantage points. Mary Armstrong, an established artist and professor at Boston College, has been teaching painting since 1989, and has since been featured in dozens of exhibitions and lauded with multiple awards.
Adams’s sublime charcoal landscapes of the Matterhorn conjure up the bleak rock and snow topography of the mountain, onto which he places a touch of colorful humor using oils. The juxtaposition of medium heightens the imaginative absurdity of the scene, with intoxicatingly bright fantasies constructed upon the monotone of rock outcroppings. His works straddle the line between landscape and dreamscape, drawing the viewer into the realm of what could be, rather than what must be. These surrealist visions prompt discussions into the arrogance of controlling one’s environment, questioning whether it is truly necessary to impose on the timeless beauty of nature to accommodate our temporary whims. New to Cross MacKenzie Gallery, Phillip Adams received his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, and has worked for over a decade as a muralist, both nationally and internationally.
Michele Mattei: "First Ladies" - January 2017
OPENING RECEPTION January 13th 6-8pm
On view through February 28th
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present “First Ladies,” an exhibition of portraits by Michele Mattei. This exhibition pulls together Mattei’s arresting portraits, new and old, of eminent ladies who tore down barriers and brooked no obstacles in their paths to the top of their respective fields. From Muriel Siebert, the first woman to hold a seat on the NYSE, to Betty Friedan, the first president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), to DC’s own Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, who created the first museum dedicated to women in the arts, these ladies, to name but a few, established an enduring legacy for women the world over. These activists, writers, politicians, teachers, doctors, and artists fought against the entrenched patriarchal systems to be recognized for their individual achievements and in so doing opened doors for all the women who followed. This power and nobility of purpose shines out of the portraits, enveloping the viewer in the mythos of these ladies.
The ‘First Ladies’ captured in these photographs are all noteworthy in their own rights, but together they tell a powerful story of women in the 20th century. The last century saw immense strides in gender equality, from women gaining suffrage in most of the world, to winning the Nobel Prize, to being elected heads of state, to establishing globally recognized brands, to leading civil rights movements, these are but a handful of the myriad of recent achievements. That these accomplishments have only taken place since 1900 goes to show just how significant the obstacles they surmounted were. Following Hillary Clinton’s historic candidacy for president it is important, now more than ever, that we celebrate these women and recognize that their accolades are stepping stones on which we must continue to build and build, never sliding backwards, so that our sisters and daughters and granddaughters can follow in their footsteps.
ARTIST PORTRAIT SESSIONS
January 14th and 15th, by appointment 1-4pm
On January 14th and 15th, we will be holding an exclusive portrait session with the artist. Call the gallery to schedule your appointment to have your visage captured by the incomparable Michele Mattei. All portraits taken will be hung alongside the exhibition from February 4th through the 11th. This is a singular opportunity to join the ranks of ‘First Ladies’ recognized for their lasting achievements throughout the 20th century, and into the 21st. The portrait sessions are not limited to ladies, extending also to gentlemen who support the equality of gender throughout the world.
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present “Porcelainia,” in collaboration Leslie Ferrin of Ferrin Contemporary, featuring works by Steven young Lee, Sin-ying Ho, Paul Scott and Walter McConnell. This exhibition considers tradition and identity in contemporary porcelain by four western artists who have worked in China. Inspired by the “Chinamania” show at the Freer Sackler Museum currently on view, featuring Walter McConnell’s iconic stupa-like sculptures, this show explores Eastern ceramic traditions while reflecting on consumerism, mass production, globalism and the changing landscape of exchange.
During the 1870s, interest in porcelain grew from being an exclusive collectors’ hobby pursued by connoisseurs to becoming a truly mass-cultural phenomenon. The initial, perceived ‘artistic refinement’ of what the aesthetes called Old Blue China gave rise to a widespread enthusiasm for blue and white décor that transcended social class distinctions and the porcelain itself. A series of caricatures in the satirical magazine Punch coined the concept of Chinamania, however, it was no longer restricted to antique Chinese wares: English porcelain, Delftware and blue and white transferware also became objects for Chinamania. The Willow pattern, with its explicit pictorial language, became a key symbol of the ‘porcelain cult’, effectively becoming the popular variety of the aesthetes’ Old Blue.
-Peder Vale (Horizon, Transferware and Contemporary Ceramics
Richard Schur "Meadows" - October 2016
“MEADOWS” New Geometric Paintings by Richard Schur
OPENING RECEPTION October 7th 6-8pm
We are pleased to present the first solo show in the United States by German artist, Richard Schur. His sophisticated and complex, geometric, hard-edged canvases are composed with a mastery of color relationships that he wields with perfect pitch. The symphony of these paintings is made up of the instruments of squares and rectangles playing their part to create this powerful visual sound of music. Grids are crammed densely together or lavishly spread out over huge spaces that span the breadth of interior walls – some are tiny jewels of dynamic color play. Schur’s focus on color resonates with the Washington Color School’s legacy in our city.
“Munich-based Richard Schur has painted his way around the world in a series of residencies: one touch on the tiller of art history, one nod to the grid-based code of his personal sea, and an ever-mutating sequence of abstracts sails free. Schur discovers newly surprising harmonies in the interplay of colours – from natural to chemical, from subtle to raw – in what prove up close to be creamily painterly surfaces. Thus are his passengers transported, whether by skiff, schooner or galleon, to actively serene visual spaces suffused with the light of those various places.”
Paul Carey-Kent Critic, Artlyst.com, London
Richard Schur lives and works in Munich, Germany and teaches at the Academy of Fine Arts there. He has shown widely in Germany and exhibited his work throughout Europe; Austria, Portugal, France, Spain, Holland, London, San Francisco, Brooklyn, L.A. as well as in China and Japan. We are delighted that Richard will travel from Europe to attend the opening reception of his exhibition in Washington, DC, presenting eight new canvases of extraordinary abstract beauty and gravity.
The artist says of his painting; “For me, Abstraction is a place of collective and personal memories, experiences and emotions. I'm a poet, a composer and an Old Master's son. As a contemporary artist, tradition is my ally and my enemy. I'm interested in the directness of Expressionism, the clarity of Hard Edge and the precision of the Renaissance painters. Through a long, systematic and intuitive process, then, I aim to reflect the meaning of every brushstroke within the whole: anything can matter here.”
Cindy Kane "Wing to Wing" - September 2016
“WING TO WING” New Paintings by Cindy Kane
OPENING RECEPTION September 9th 6-8pm On view through October 5th
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by American artist Cindy Kane. “Wing to Wing,” Kane’s second solo show with Cross MacKenzie, showcases her recent work on birds and butterflies, which was born of her increasing concern for our deteriorating environment and the danger posed to the avian creatures that inhabit it. She illustrates these animals with an almost scientific naturalism that not only reveals spectacular detail, but also celebrates diversity of species. Hundreds of birds don’t lie flat on the canvas, but seem to move in every direction at once. Through her complex arrangements and patterns, Kane breathes real vivacity into these representations of life. As is typical of Kane’s work, each painting in the group is tied to the rest by continuity of motif, message and bold color.
Also characteristic of Kane’s work, the innocent and familiar theme, the bird, is complicated by an unnerving undertone of conflict. Kane describes cheery, lifelike birds, vibrant in color and movement as they flit, fly and perch across the canvases. And yet, one is provoked into the realization that these animals are threatened. Presented in the hundreds, the horde forces viewers to reflect on the dwindling numbers of the world’s birds as ecosystems deteriorate. Kane juxtaposes these creatures against man-made backgrounds to speak out against the role that human interaction has played in their environments. Her earlier series collaged the birds over the actual written works by journalists reporting on the news of the day.
Kane’s work is informed by her deep interest in politics, current affairs and issues of the environment—a product of her upbringing in Vietnam-era Washington, D.C. This interest in nature has been further inspired by her experiences working at Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon, and living in the lush nature of Martha’s Vineyard. There, she has become an avid bird watcher and documenter of bird behavior particularly the recent island visits of the snowy owl.
Kane has been exhibited widely in the United States and has works in multiple private and public collections. She is also shown abroad in the U.S. Embassies in Tijuana, Mexico and Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In July 2016, Kane put on a one-day exhibition at Martha’s Vineyard Museum’s Marine Hospital entitled, “Empty Skies,” in which she reflected on the extinction of various songbird species.
We are pleased to announce an exciting exhibition to celebrate the venerated art of the architect’s drawing. The show is co-curated by renowned architect, Mark McInturff, FAIA, winner of over 300 AIA awards, and architect and urbanist, Dhiru Thadani, winner of the Seaside Prize and author of The Language of Towns and Cities; A Visual Dictionary and Visions of Seaside: Foundations/Evolution/ Imagination/Built and Un-built.
Michael Graves wrote in an article for the New York Times in 2012;
“Architecture cannot divorce itself from drawing, no matter how impressive the technology gets. Drawings are not just end products: they are part of the thought process of architectural design. Drawings express the interaction of our minds, eyes and hands. This last statement is absolutely crucial to the difference between those who draw to conceptualize architecture and those who use the computer.”
Our goal for this exhibition is to celebrate drawings and sketches made by hand rather than digital representation and manipulation. We strive to curate a collection of the finest drawings and prints created by some of the most exceptional international, national and local architects. Noted architects include; Anthony Ames, Deborah Berke, Merill Elam, Rand Elliott, Ray Gindroz, Frank Gehry, Michael Graves, Stephen Holl, Rob Krier, Rodolfo Machado, Thom Mayne, Richard Meier, Andrea Ponsi, Antoine Predock, Michael Rotondi, Todd Williams
Local architects also represented include, Anthony Barnes, Janet Bloomberg, Robert Cole, Eason Cross, Olvia Demetriou, Jacobsen Architecture, David Jameson, Salo Levinas, Roger Lewis, Richard Loosle-Ortega, Travis Price, Milton Shinberg, James Smither, Ben Van Dusen, Richard Williams, Christan Zapatka
Some of the proceeds from sales will be donated to the National Building Museum for the care and maintenance of its collection (which includes a very large number of architectural drawings).
In partnership with the National Building Museum
Contact Rebecca Cross for more information and digital images.
Ben Van Dusen
Rafael Torres Correa "Paysage Exposé, Paysage Figurant" - May 2016
May 5 – June 1
“Paysage Exposé, Paysage Figurant”
Paintings by Rafael Torres Correa
In partnership with the Cultural Service of the Embassy of France, Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition of paintings by the Cuban-born French-national, Rafael Torres Correa. Originally from Havana, this international artist has widely exhibited his work in Mexico, Spain and France and with Cross MacKenzie in 2014.
Rafael Torres Correa creates lyrical universes in his large abstract canvases. His paintings evoke memories – symbolic and emotional – and conjure imagined experiences of water and floating islands with their shifting imagery and fluid execution using washes, drips, dabs and splashes of paint. These landscapes are transitory territories and shifting metaphors – a state that parallels the artist’s own migrations and cultural identity.
“When Rafael Torres-Correa leaves Cuba, his home country, he brings along his own landscape. The uncertain ways of memory have shaped his artistic approach, somewhere in between what is to come and what is to disappear, in between celebration and dissipation. Wherever he settles, in France, Mexico, Spain, Amazonia and the United States, the artist confronts his inner images with the places that host him. He encapsulates the traces, the footprints, the connections, the ways that bring him back to the light and the transparency of the texture, as an anticipation of oblivion. The artist infinitely sculpts his changing identity and yet remains determined to act. With the shades of blue depicting his oceans that push us away and yet bring us back, with the shades of red of his vital spark that reshape a cosmogony of harmony, he immerses us into his silent memories scattered in time and space”.
Cultural Attaché Embassy of France to USA
Torres Correa’s mixed media technique is as liquid as the subject – the canvases appear practically wet. The artist’s palette is often that of the sea, deep turquoises and blues punctuated by flashes of hot color like reflective sunlight. Torres Correa ventures into ceramics for this exhibition, painting tiles with the same bold gestures and spontaneity expressed in his canvases.
Rafael Torres Correa creates these compelling works of art in a universal visual language, what one could truly call the “international style”.
Wendy Garner - April 2016
We are pleased to announce the exhibition of new paintings by Washington artist and muralist Wendy Garner. This is Garner’s second solo show at Cross MacKenzie Gallery. A native of California and a longtime resident of Italy and France, she is now based in Washington. She has exhibited her work often in Europe and collaborated on large-scale mural projects in Tuscany and locally. She is a passionate observer of nature and the radiant effects of sunlight.
Her previous investigation of the ocean’s powerful, roiling, surface resulted in her show titled, “New Wave Paintings” where she swirled her oils into translucent, watery expressions of the famous surfer’s challengers, “The Mavericks” and “Nouvalu”. That series led her to an even more elusive subject now, as she looks aloft and studies the shifting, reflective clouds in the sky. In this show titled, “Aloft” her paintings focus on that fleeting and fluid glimpse of a shape dancing across the canvas of the sky. In Garner’s lushly painted canvases, the colors and shapes defining the clouds, alternate between having weight themselves and becoming only visible through the shadows they cast on water or land below. A great variety of the atmosphere’s weather is represented in these 15 paintings; there are storm clouds gathering, cirrus clouds acting like paint brushes swiping across a deep blue void, and cumulus bubbling puffy white against a cerulean sky among others. Consult your meteorologist to label the complete array of formations. For this viewer, suffice that the artist has unleashed her imagination and offers a beautiful tableaux for a day-dreamer’s delight where one can search to discover knowable elements in her shifting, weightless, contours.
When Maxwell MacKenzie returned to the western Minnesota farm country where he was born, he found approximately a third of its old buildings deserted. Moved by their melancholy beauty, MacKenzie began photographing the sagging barns and empty houses set in expansive stretches of prairie that were once home to thousands of settlers from Sweden and Norway. The result of these efforts was the seminal exhibition and book titled, “Abandonings.” Now, after multiple museum & gallery shows and 2 more books, the Gallery is proud to present this exhibition of a selection of MacKenzie’s photographs. American artist Andrew Wyeth said,“Pick a subject and go deep.” MacKenzie took this to heart as he documented the vernacular architecture of his beloved native plains over the last 35 years..
This collection of color and black & white photographs, features dozens of the humble dwellings that have haunted MacKenzie and summoned him back yearly to capture their ruins. Again and again, in every season, Mackenzie revisited his subject and documented the ravages of time.
In the “Everts Township Homestead”, series, we see the isolated abandoned “little house on the prairie” photographed in the 1980’s with bright, barn-red, fresh paint, surrounded by a field of golden wheat – in another year, the paint has faded and the farmer has planted corn – another year, no paint remains and the ground is fallow – later, the window is gone, and the sky is gray – and finally, most recently, a lonely pigeon sits framed by the black hole of the missing window in a field of soybeans against a bright blue sky. MacKenzie has photographed hundreds of these Mid-western barns, schoolhouses and homesteads of the last century and delights in all their subtle variety. He compares the window placement, the pitch of the roof, the shape of the dormers and the width of the trim. Applying his formalist architectural photography skills with the utmost exacting care, he captures the elegance in the simple but noble architecture, falling into decline. One shares the artist’s deep sense of loss and can’t help but wonder if this body of work is a metaphor for his own personal Shangri-La as well as a metaphor in the larger context, for our country’s lost Jeffersonian ideals.
MacKenzie quotes Joan Didion’s passage from “The White Album” in his book “American Ruins – Ghosts on the landscape”, “Certain places seem to exist mainly because someone has written about them… A Place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.”
Max MacKenzie’s image is deeply imbedded in these photographs.
Nicole Gunning - John Blee - DECEMBER 2015
Nicole Gunning- “The Nickie Warriors” Sculpture
John Blee - “The Orchard Suite” Paintings
… & “In the kitchen”: Catherine White - Ceramics
On view through the end of January 2016.
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present Nicole Gunning’s new suite of life-sized ceramic figures, “The Nickie Warriors”. Gunning has created her own powerful terra cotta army of “Nickies” that evoke the Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors buried with the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. These voluptuous full-scale standing figures are self-portraits of the artist, proudly confronting the world with an unflinching attitude. Even without heads, these “Nickies” face their audience assertively with an unspoken reproach for the expectation of the typical ideal female form. Gunning, whose work we introduced to the DC community after her graduation from the Corcoran last May, is back in our gallery for her first one-person show. She fills the front gallery space with variations on her theme, experimenting with colored glazes and new surfaces while producing new “Nickies” made with a high-fire clay body that can withstand the elements outdoors. These “Nickies” will be lasting warriors or sentinels in a garden setting protecting their modern day urban emperors.
As a counterpoint to our youngest artist, we also present the exceptional paintings of long-time Washington artist, John Blee. Blee, whose widely collected works are included in august institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art and LACMA. He is a fixture as an artist and art critic in the DC art community and his paintings have been well known to all of the city’s art connoisseurs since the 70’s. He studied with Frankenthatler and has taken the lessons of her fluid color field paintings to heart – but Blee isn’t content with shallow stains, instead he gives us the raw power of his saturated, layered, thick, luscious, polychrome paint. His early formative days as a child in India, opened his eyes to the dazzling quality of light, and he imports that energetic aesthetic in every canvas. These “Orchard Suite” paintings make a beautiful backdrop to the youthful exuberance of Nicole Gunning’s warrior women.
Catherine White graces us this season with her exquisite collection of functional ceramics. We inaugurate our “In the kitchen” back room gallery program with one of the area’s most accomplished artists working in clay today. For over 30 years this ceramicist has been unloading her kilns to the delight of audiences who appreciate her sophisticated art of the hand-made.
Rob Hitzig - November 2015
Anna Beeke and Léa Eouzan - October 2015
As part of the 8th edition of the FotoWEEK DC festival, Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present the work of two talented photographers: Anna Beeke and Léa Eouzan, in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. These two artists explore the confrontation between man and nature in the contemporary world.
Anna Beeke’s interest is focused on the mysterious forest. There are countless stories that involve humankind venturing beyond the structured limits of civilization into the chaotic labyrinth of the woods and Beeke’s project owes much to literature. Without the myth, folklore, and the fairy tale, there would be no “Sylvania”.
“Across cultures and centuries, the forest has occupied a unique place in our collective imagination. Good and evil, chaos and peace, beauty and terror: these oppositions are as fundamental to the forest’s liminal landscape as they are to the human experience. Sylvania is a composite “forest-land” of photographs that explores the intersection of nature, imagination, and myth in the American woodlands. Through images of both real and depicted nature, Sylvania examines the differing characteristics of these woods—from Washington to Vermont to Louisiana— while also seeking the Forest Universal rooted in them all; it explores the physical presence of the forest in the contemporary world as well as its metaphoric presence in our collective imagination.” Anna Beeke
Beeke was born in Washington, DC, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY. Most recently, she was included in PDN’s 30 2015, and was one of four finalists for the Wallis Annenberg Prize. Her project Sylvania has won several awards and grants, including the WIP/LTI Lightside Materials Grant (2012), the Magenta Flash Forward Competition (2013), and the Syngenta Photography Award’s Judge’s Choice (2013). It was also a finalist in the 2014 Daylight Photo Awards, receiving a Juror pick from Julian Cox, chief curator of the De Young Museum. For her project Amsterdam, NY, Anna was a recipient of the 2010 too much chocolate + Kodak Film Grant and included in reGeneration2, a book and travelling exhibition curated by Switzerland’s Musee de L’Elysee. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally across five continents since 2009. She holds an MFA from the School of Visual Arts (2013), a certificate in photojournalism and documentary photography from the International Center of Photography (2009), and a BA from Oberlin College (2007).
Léa Eouzan’s body of work titled, “Intersections” explores similar themes, but expands her focus to include images of more urban environments as well. Her photographs poignantly display man’s careless interventions into the landscape and express a visceral sadness in response to man’s neglect of his own creations. In “Crying House”, the artist projects the small dwelling’s “feelings” for being abandoned and left to decay.
Eouzan graduated in 2006 from the National Superior School of Photography in Arles (with distinctions). The same year, The Fotografia Festival di Roma offers her her first group exhibition. The release of a part of her work around memory’s places was published in the 4th edition of the "Storia della Shoah" in Utet editions and recently in "Future Images" (Motta 24 Ore Cultura) and "Afterwards" (Thames & Hudson).
Her first solo exhibition was presented at the gallery Le Bleu Du Ciel (Lyon) in May 2009. This work led her to create a book, the "Guide Historique d’Auschwitz", published in January 2011, to Autrement editions.
In 2012, in Bastia (Corsica), the gallery Gour & Beneforti exposed Histoire (s) Contemporaine(s). A year later, she was the photographer for the event KM 1, a residence orchestrated by the French Alliance in Manila in collaboration with the Nicephore Niepce Museum of Chalon-sur-Saône. The exhibition, “What remains, what disappears” resulted from this work of capturing memories for the museum.
Léa will travel from France to join us for the celebration during FotoWEEK DC, November 10th.
For more information and to request digital images contact: Rebecca Cross firstname.lastname@example.org
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of new ceramic sculpture and photographs by acclaimed sculptor Walter McConnell, concurrent with his monumental wet clay installation on view at the Katzen Arts Center. His "wet works" are unfired environments created on site, encased in plastic sheathing forming terrarium-like worlds that remain moist and alive through the constant process of condensation within, mimicking in miniature the natural cycle of growth and decay. These site-specific pieces employ many tons of raw clay, and require teams of assistants to install - the process fascinating performance art in itself that includes the dismantling of these ephemeral creations.
The Katzen Arts Center installation features several encapsulated unfired clay figures created from a high-tech, three-dimensional body-scanner and rapid prototyping of the artist himself and other family members, which will emerge from the heaps of clay earth beneath. The nudes, made of the same raw material - references the beginnings of life itself. McConnell's earlier installations with titles like "Itinerant Edens" and "Effluvial Bloom" acknowledged that subject directly. His Adam appears alienated and alone, walled off in the hazy plastic environment, made unclear whether this Eden is the dream of earthly paradise or the remains of a once fertile garden. The viewer is left to wonder whether the shifting world McConnell creates is out of reach because that perfect world is only in our imaginations - remove the protective thin layer of plastic sheet and the whole sculpture turns to dry dust.
In June 2016, the Freer and Sackler Galleries will present two of McConnell's monumental assemblages of cast porcelain pyramidal sculptures as the centerpiece of their "Chinamania" exhibit. Hundreds of individual pieces of slip cast and glazed porcelain; faux-Ming vases, kitschy figurines, Disney dwarves and grandma's collectibles - form his now iconic stupa-like forms. McConnell's signature crystalline glazes burst across the surfaces, creating a rich patina of contrasts and baroque excesses. The clash of cultures is intentional as the artist presents the viewer with multiple hidden messages embedded in the juxtapositions. McConnell's extravagant floor-to-ceiling ceramic creations become greater than the sum of their parts and celebrate the continuing fascination with "China" collecting.
"The ceramic archive recycled and compounded to excess in McConnell's resplendent porcelain towers, is evidence of a collective unconscious - vastly weird and wonderful - at the core of our acquisitional urges and desires." - Walter McConnell
Artist Talk at the Katzen Arts Center September 28th 5:30-6:30pm (4400 Massachusetts Ave, Washington, DC)
Professor McConnell teaches at the New York State College of Ceramics, Alfred University. His impressive list of awards and prizes include sThe Joan Mitchell Foundation, Individual Artist Grant, The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Individual Artist Grant, multiple year Grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He has installed his monumental works in many museums such as the Denver Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Museum Het Kruithuis, Den Bosch, Netherlands, MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts, the Ceramic Museum, Taipei, Taiwan and the Daum Museum in Missouri.
All images, Walter McConnell
New Talent - June 2015
OPENING RECEPTION: June 5th, 2015. 6:30-8:30 pm
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to introduce four talented young artists as they launch their careers in the visual arts. Each artist in their early 20’s has already demonstrated their dedicated commitment and outstanding facility in their chosen areas of artistic practice.
Louise Smith covers her large canvases with paper collage - then paints over the lively surface with a highly developed harmony of color. The artist says she is "more interested in instability than of making sense of the world” but through her multiple layers of painting and paper, order emerges. After receiving her BA from Bard, she assisted the renowned mixed media sculptor, Petah Coyne in NYC.
The relationship between seemingly random objects is the focus of Maida Monaghan’s carefully rendered still life paintings. Textures and contours overlap into a puzzle of seemingly abstract shapes that reveal their actual subject matter only after close study. Monaghan creates interlocking spaces similar to the unreal spaces of M. C. Escher where dead birds evolve into winged patterns. Monaghan studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and lives and works in NYC.
Nicole Gunning has created her own terra cotta army of “Nickies” invoking the Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors. These voluptuous full-scale standing figures are self-portraits of the artist, proudly confronting the world. Even without heads, these “Nickies” face their audience assertively with an unspoken reproach for the expectation of the typical ideal female form. The artist is in the process of amassing her terra cotta armies for a solo show at Cross MacKenzie Gallery in December 2015. Nickie’s senior show at the Corcoran placed her “Nickies” up the grand staircase replacing the classical marble statues with her dynamic women of the new millennium.
“Immaterials”, Cooper MacKenzie’s book of ink drawings and poetry, was published in 2013, by Inpatient Press–NYC, under his pen name August Cross. The dark themes in these drawings of disasters – both urban and natural – continue in his series of paintings of menacing super storm cells and bus-eating sinkholes. Even darker and deeper are the new outer space paintings. Though the views of the starlight twinkling night skies themselves are beautifully painted, with flecks of dry iridescent pigment of Yves Klein blue floating over black washes soaked into the canvas, this infinity is still very ominous. Living in NYC since graduating from Bard, MacKenzie has been assisting the prominent painter Garth Weiser.
Louise Smith - Elian
61 x 62
Louise Smith - Yellow
48 x 66
Louise Smith - U
Louise Smith - Sally of the Sawdust
70 x 84
Louise Smith - Untitled
67 x 72
Carole Bolsey - May 2015
Thru June 3, 2015.
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to announce this solo exhibition of new large paintings by Carole Bolsey. This will be the third time the artist has shown at our gallery.
Critic and art historian, Donald Kuspit writes eloquently about Carole Bolsey’s paintings in the book about the artist, The Shape with No Name, “Bolsey brings out the elusive transcendence of nature" and, “she has a particular gift in rendering the movement of water” and, “Her Waterfields are tours de force of vitalistic painting, and she uses blackness as the vital color Matisse thought it was, without denying the negative symbolic import it proverbially has.”
Bolsey is a magnificent colorist and each canvas is alive with vibrating colors, complicated harmonies, and daring brush strokes. Her subject ranges from basic barn-like structures she calls, “the shape with no name,” to simple rowboats floating in reflective water. Her skilled painting transforms these modest subjects into powerful vehicles for deep, solitary contemplation on nature and our humble place in the environment.
Cross Mackenzie Gallery is pleased to announce this group exhibition celebrating man’s passionate quest for flight. “Blast Off!” presents seven accomplished contemporary artists, including 5 whose work has flown in from Switzerland, New York, Pennsylvania, Montana, and represents multiple mediums: painting, photography, and ceramic sculpture.
The dream of flight, and art inspired by that desire, is as ancient as the Greek myth of Icarus from 1700 BC. In 500 BC, Chinese inventor Lu Ban and the Greek mathematician Archytas, as well as others, invented flying machines. In the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of his “aerial screws” or helicopters and hang gliders were extraordinary works of art in themselves as were the fanciful flying ships in the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. Art inspired by actual mechanized aviation, has followed its development – from colorful French prints of ballooning in the 18th century – to the present day artists exploring the most advanced technology of drones.
(Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) or, DARPA’s seemingly futuristic, miniature hummingbird “nano-drones” are the inspiration for Montana painter, Philip Slagter’s fantasy paintings of insects in the garden. Scary as this actual big-brother scenario is, Slagter’s paintings of drones are the picture of happiness with brightly colored winged insects buzzing across the canvas. This Eden-like portrayal disguises their true ominous nature – a most relevant topic in today’s news.
On the opposite spectrum, Switzerland-based, Japanese photographer David Favrod, makes a powerful statement with a portrait of a Japanese soldier wearing make-shift, strap-on wings, as part of his “Hikari” series, where he explores his own interpretation of his Japanese grandparents’ memories of WWII. This photograph titled “Vent Divin” or “spirit wind” the meaning of the Japanese word “Kamikaze” symbolizing the victory of the spirit of Japan, is depicted poignantly – not soaring – and clearly not triumphant.
Two of our artists focus on the infrastructure behind the romantic images of man pursuing the wild blue yonder. Renowned painter Trevor Young is represented in the show with one of his eerie, dark, night paintings of a jumbo jet docked on the empty runway. Young’s exquisitely painted oils fly no matter the subject. DC photographer, Maxwell MacKenzie was piloting his own ultra-light while photographing the Burning Man Arts Festival in Nevada. The aerial view of the harsh, desert landing strip at dawn, reveals a magical field of sparkling aircraft in silhouette and hints at the ordered chaos beyond the fence.
Biddle/Frankel is the collaborative effort of husband and wife duo from Brooklyn, Eve Biddle and Joshua Frankel. Their printed aluminum and silkscreen rocket ships playfully reference flight with their birds and upward-pointing arrows. They like to mix the image of the most sophisticated man made gravity-defying space ship decorated with the naturally aerodynamic common sparrow.
Philadelphian, Matthew Courtney also creates rocket ships. His missiles are 5foot tall, human scaled, freestanding clay expressions whose weight, texture and materials are decidedly, heroically, comically, earthbound.
“We believe in the possibility of an incalculable number of human transformations, and we say without smiling that wings sleep in the flesh of man.” - F.T. Marinetti, 1911.
Read the Washington City Paper's review of the show here.
Inclined Airplane, 2015
Vent Divin, 2013
Stoneware Rocket Ships
Aluminum Rockets, 2013
Desert Airport at Dawn, 2012
DARPA Nano Hummingbirds and Poppies
Zimra Beiner - "Tools For No Purpose" - March 2015
March 6-31, 2015
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present this solo exhibition by artist Zimra Beiner. The artist’s work is inspired by the everyday tools and objects ubiquitous in our domestic lives. In the artist’s own words,
“The everyday is interpreted, re-contextualized and abstracted as a reflection of life passing through me.”
Beiner creates forms that seem vaguely familiar, a sink knob, a baseball bat, a rolling pin but his sculptures diverge from those functional tools into soft cartoonish shapes of his imagination. A banquette-like table is set with his own personal, everyday objects, stretching 15 feet like a 3 dimensional time line of the artist’s life. It feels rather like the results of an archeologist’s excavation, utensils unearthed for us to study and discover their presumed function. His earthy tones underscore the feeling that these implements could have been found at the bottom of the sea or dug up from the earth, caked in rust or dirt over time. But the arrangement on the platform is far from haphazard, there is a lovely rhythm in the carefully arranged elements and their relationships to one another on the table.
Beiner deftly makes these objects in clay and forms them with a purposefully naïve hand, the pieces remind one of the Play-Doh forms of a toddler. But this highly trained artist is in full control of this pseudo-elementary approach and balances it perfectly with his refined presentation. Zimra Beiner has a Master’s degree from the renowned ceramics art school of Alfred University and he has studied with the best. His shapes evoke those of Philip Guston and share their raw sense of humor.
A parallel focus of the sculptor is his giant amorphous, glazed, ceramic blobs that defy their material by standing upright with their polished gloss surface at odds with their unlikely bulbous, organic shapes.
The gallery will also be presenting some of Beiner’s lively pen and gouaches works on paper, of layered shapes and shadows of his tools and household utensils with no particular function.
Read the Washington Post's review of the show here.
Chilly February Sunday Evening Art Talks, Warmed with Hot Chili and Wine
February 1st 5-6PM: "Looking at the Overlooked in Modern and Contemporary Art" with Aneta Georgievska-Shine, Ph.D. Professor of Art History
The survival of still-life and its meanings in the art of the present - painting, sculpture, photography, and installation art.
Aneta Georgievska-Shine is a scholar of Renaissance and Baroque art, whose interests range from the classical to contemporary art. Her academic publications include numerous journal articles and two books, Rubens and the Archaeology of Myth: Visual and Poetic Memory (2009) and Rubens, Velázquez and the King of Spain (2014), which she co-wrote with Larry Silver. She has also written essays on modern and contemporary art, most recently for the monograph of Emilie Brzezinski, The Lure of the Forest (2014). In addition to her lecturing appointment at the University of Maryland, she frequently presents at museum institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. She is also a co-founder of Insight Institute, a non-profit organization that promotes innovation and critical thinking through art-based initiatives and programs.
February 8th 5-6PM: "The Abstract Expressionists: an American Idea" with Claudia Rousseau, Ph.D. Professor of Art History
A consideration of the origins and early development of abstract Expressionism, in its New York and specifically American context, including the importance of the critical response and the variations in approach among the artists in the group.
Born and raised in New York City, Dr. Rousseau completed a B.A. at Hunter College (C.U.N.Y.), and the M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History at Columbia University in New York. Dr. Rousseau is Professor of Art History at the School of Art and Design at Montgomery College in Silver Spring, MD where she has been teaching since fall 2001.
Dr. Rousseau is an internationally published scholar, a recognized critic and a curator of art exhibits in the region, including an ongoing exhibition of sculpture at the Katzen Center of American University. She was art critic for the Gazette Newspapers in Montgomery, Prince Georges and Frederick Counties for eleven years, publishing extended monthly reviews of exhibitions of contemporary art. In 2010 she received the honor of juried membership in the prestigious International Association of Art Critics (AICA) for her writing on art.
Dr. Rousseau has served on many important art juries in the area, including the Bethesda Painting Competition (the Trawick Prize), the fellowship committee for the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities, and the Awards Review Panel for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. She also serves as an active member of the Public Arts Trust Steering Committee of the AHCMC, as well as the Art Review Panel at Maryland Park and Planning for public art.
February 15th 4-6PM: "Hot Issues in Art Law with a NYC Art World Insider" with Barbara Luse, Esq.
Her talk will identify key areas of interest in art law, with a focus on stolen art as well as the primary differences between Continental Europe and the United States regarding restitution cases and cultural heritage laws.
Barbara Luse, Esq. is a graduate of Princeton University and Fordham University School of Law. She is a member of the New York Bar and speaks four languages including bilingual French, Italian, and Spanish. During the past year, she has worked as an associate at Cahill Partners, LLP, a boutique New York law firm with a thriving Art Law and Litigation practice. While at Fordham Law School, she was also an active member of the Art Law program and the Fashion Law Institute. She has worked in law firms in both the United States and Europe in a range of areas including Intellectual Property, Corporate Law, and Litigation.
February 22nd 5-6PM "Fakes, Forgeries, and the Art of Deception" with Colette Loll, M.A., Curator/Art Forgery Research/Forensics
Colette Loll is the Founder of Art Fraud Insights, LLC a consultancy specializing in art fraud related lectures, training and customized investigation of artworks. Ms. Loll was the CEO of a marketing company before earning an MA in Art History and completing post-graduate studies in International Art Crime. She has participated in numerous projects relating to art forgery including documentary ﬁlms, authentication investigations for private collectors and foundations, and curating exhibitions. Her current exhibit, Intent to Deceive, is touring museums nationally and she is also leading an anti-fraud initiative for a major online auction site. Ms. Loll lectures at universities, museums, and forensic institutes and trains Federal law enforcement agents in forgery investigations. Her work integrates the ideals she is passionate about: truth, authenticity and stewardship; and she is committed to educational outreach on the topics of art forgery, cultural heritage crimes, and the emerging role of forensic science in the attribution process.
Event is free, but space is limited.
Hyun Kyung Yoon - Why, Ai Weiwei? - January 2015
January 9th - February 28th, 2015
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new ceramic work by Hyun Kyung Yoon. Her third solo show with Cross MacKenzie, Yoon’s recent work appropriates the ceramic work of the powerful and provocative Chinese artist Ai Wewei, turning his practice of appropriation on its head. Weiwei, internationally known for the controversial use of significant historical Han and Qing Dynasty vessels in his artwork, employed ancient “ready-mades” dipped in garish industrial paint to comment on the mythology of civilization, connoisseurship, and monetary value. Obscuring the original, historic, museum-quality artifacts’ surfaces resulted in vessels of surprising beauty.
Inspired, Yoon, a skilled ceramic artist, recreated these vessels by throwing clay pots and mixing glazes of extraordinary and unusual brilliance to mimic Weiwei’s dripping paint surface, thereby looping the appropriation full circle back to a functional pot. Further questioning the value of a utilitarian vessel, Yoon’s pots are individually for sale in the gallery context – now commodities - having not yet reached the status or price of a museum exhibition. A native of Korea, Yoon’s interest in Chinese ceramics continues the centuries-old strong influence of China over its neighbors.
Yoon’s other focus of interest is her ongoing series “Indeterminate Lines” – ceramic wall installations that dance like three-dimensional calligraphy. Multiple monochromatic elements become lyrical drawings in space, writing elegant messages of linear movement. These floor-to-ceiling installations incorporate the wall’s surface by casting dynamic shadows.
Hyun Kyung Yoon divides her time between her studios in Korea and Richmond where she is an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. She received her B.S. in Applied Design from the University of Minnesota and her MFA in Ceramics from V.C.U., Richmond. Yoon has shown widely in the United States and Korea. Recently her work was included in “The Flower, 2014” the third Korea-Germany Cultural Exchange Exhibition, “CLAY 2011- Today and Tomorrow”, an exchange exhibition of Chinese and South Korean artists at the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute, Jingdezhen China and “Change Exchange” at the Verein Berliner Kunstler in Germany. In 2008 she was a visiting artist at New York State College for Ceramics at Alfred University in NY. She has had solo shows at the Tong-In Gallery in Seoul and at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts, USA. In 2007 she had the privilege to be invited to the 5th Cheongju International Craft Biennial in Korea.
Indeterminate Lines/Black Series
Indeterminate Lines/Green Series
Indeterminate Lines/Green Series
Full Moon Jars
Indeterminate Lines/White Series Detail
Indeterminate Lines/Light Green Series Detail
Indeterminate Lines/Sienna Series
Indeterminate Lines/Sienna Series
Indeterminate Lines/Sienna Series
Rafael Torres Correa "A Dialogue with Landscape" - December 2014
Tuesday December 2nd, 2014 - January 3rd, 2015
In partnership with the Cultural Service of the Embassy of France, Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition of paintings by the Cuban-born French-national, Rafael Torres Correa. Originally from Havana, this international artist has widely exhibited his work in Mexico, Spain and France. This will be his first solo exhibition in Washington, D.C. and we are proud to introduce his powerful work to the DC community.
Rafael Torres Correa creates lyrical universes in his large abstract canvases. His paintings evoke memories – symbolic and emotional – and conjure imagined experiences of water and floating islands with their shifting imagery and fluid focus. Like Proust, Torres Correa’s scenes are sensuous and dream like, but his vehicle of mental transport is visual rather than aromatic. As uncertain shapes emerge, the viewer can almost perceive the contour of a distant land reminding us of the artist’s Cuban roots in every watery surface. These landscapes are transitory territories and shifting metaphors – a state that parallels the artist’s own migrations and cultural identity.
His mixed media technique is as liquid as the subject – the canvases appear practically wet. The artist’s palette is often that of the sea, deep turquoises and blues punctuated by flashes of hot color like reflective sunlight. This mesmerizing sense of depth in the work is achieved through overlaying washes, drips, dabs and splashes of paint. Torres Correa’s emotionally moving forms can venture into dark and haunting terrain. One senses exploding stars in outer space or shadows on the distant surface from the bottom of the ocean. These paintings capture and displace us.
Ultimately, the paintings are grounded in the immediate time and space of Rafael Torres Correa’s studio by revealing the outlines of the ceramic floor tiles embedded into the first layer of the canvases. The visible imprint of the decorative interlocking patterns in the paintings, reassures us and bring us back to the intimate space where Rafael Torres Correa creates these compelling works of art.
Mémoire de l'eau
59" x 118"
59" x 59"
Fragmentos de Silencio
65" x 59"
Ile de Forêt
21.3" x 23.6"
49.2" x 53"
Texture d'une expérience
59" x 59"
Transparence des Imgaes
47" x 51"
Argument de Silence
21.3" x 23.6"
Matt Vis & Tony Campbell - Generic Art Solutions - November 2014
Thursday October 30th – November 29th, 2014
Cross MacKenzie Gallery, in collaboration with Mindy Solomon Gallery in Miami, and Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans, presents this exhibition of photographs by the collaborating partners Matt Vis and Tony Campbell who practice as “Generic Art Solutions” on view during FOTOWEEK DC.
This New Orleans-based art duo use nearly every art medium as they examine the recurring themes of human drama and the (dis)functions of contemporary society. Always rooted in performance, they play every character in their work. In their more distilled “duets” we see something of a yin and yang (a balance between individuals that aren’t quite interchangeable), but in their more elaborate “stageings” the result is as epic as the subject matter itself. By combining Classical, Romantic, and Baroque compositional elements with contemporary pictorial techniques, they manage to illuminate the common thread that connects past histories with current events. This strategy creates something of a “Déjà Vu effect” that is often driven by the well-known works of art they reference.
In this dialogue between the past and present the viewer realizes several things: 1) that the history of art is inextricably political, 2) that human behavior repeats itself no matter how tragic or brutal, and 3) that this cycle of repetition must be broken so personal and societal progress can be made. Despite all this, their work contains a glimmer of hope and an element of levity.
Their public performances certainly contain their most humorous and irreverent commentary on the function of art and contemporary life itself. More absurd than comical, their performances engage the audience by playing carefully developed roles with a specific task at hand. Their best-known and longest-running performance is the “International Art Police”, or the “Art Cops”. They outfit themselves in authentic police uniforms (complete with badges, police cruiser, and special ticket books) and take to the streets with the mission of “Safeguarding Art Communities Worldwide”. They patrol art galleries, and museums looking for suspicious art activities and issue “Notice of Violation” fines for work deemed “Too Art School”, “Formulaic”, “Too Trendy”, or “Even I Could Do That” infractions. Washington DC’s extensive museum culture could very well be fertile ground for Generic Art Solutions’ passionate engagement with art history.
The Raft, 2010
Border Patrol, 2010
The Capture of Christ (Judas Kiss), 2009
The Head of St. John the Baptist, 2007
Sheryl Zacharia, Stacy Snyder, & Angela To - October 2014
Wednesday October 8th - October 25th, 2014
Sheryl Zacharia and Stacy Snyder Ceramics – New Paintings by Angela To
“Rapture”, “Girl with Checkered Past”, Uptown Girl”, “Grid Girl, “Sophisticated Lady”, “Woman through the Window”, are but a few of Zacharia’s evocative titles for her highly intricate and accomplished body of ceramic sculptures. Hinting at the artist’s busy life on the big grid of Manhattan – and perhaps, her previous 10-year professional identity as a performing singer-songwriter – this musical and visual artist marries her artistic passions in her lyrical artwork full of jazzy patterns, contrapuntal rhythms and layered colors. Zacharia’s 2012 exhibition at the Patina Gallery in Santa Fe, unabashedly referenced her affinity with the early 20th century painter Paul Klee, with the title “Speaking of Klee” acknowledging their mutual playfulness and overlapping imagery; game boards, checked grids and stylized faces. Like the Ginger Rogers comparison with Fred Astaire (dancing backwards and in heels), Sheryl Zacharia does it in clay: in three dimensions and at high temperatures. Her love of ancient relics manifests in her work, in the complex surface textures and the seemingly-decipherable scriptures in her surface squiggles – the messages are embedded, stamped, and scratched into the clay body.
The work of local DC-area artist, Stacy Snyder, pairs nicely with that of Zacharia. Her terra cotta architectural vessels also use the technique of decorating the surface with images and patterns that play off the form rather than underlining it. She uses stencils and glaze colors that jump off the vessel’s surface, creating her own lively language of hieroglyphics on a textured, earthy, canvas of clay.
In concert with these two fine ceramic artists, painter Angie To, a Chinese-Canadian artist working in the US, paints oversized, abstracted patterns from nature into an overall dizzying surface that she covers with multiple layers of glaze-like resin. Her reflective works on panel, thus feel very contemporary, and contrast with the earthy sensuous quality of the ceramics. The slick surfaces create a visual tension with the soft gentle leaf shapes.
Cross Mackenzie Gallery is proud to present these artists together in an exhibition that showcases their individual talents and shared sensibilities.
Lyn Horton & Maren Kloppmann - September 2014
Friday September 12th - October 4th, 2014
Cross Mackenzie Gallery is pleased to present a show of graphite wall drawings and pen and ink works on paper by Massachusetts based artist, Lyn Horton, together with elegant black and white porcelain work by Minnesota-resident, Maren Kloppmann. Horton and Kloppmann have each shown previously at our gallery, but this is the first time their work has been paired. Both artists work chiefly in black and white, and the juxtaposition of the seemingly chaotic and energetic lines of Lyn Horton’s drawings with Kloppmann’s quiet, grounded forms creates a harmonious dialogue of form.
Horton’s work brings to visual life the layered, rhythmic, sensuous ease of music. Her works are composed of obsessive, painstaking, repetitious mark making. Each twist and turn, each loop, intertwining, overlapping, and at times just barely touching, evokes the controlled chaos of jazz and the elemental call and response pattern. Horton asks you to see the jazz music she loves. A well regarded music critic in her own right, Horton is published in The New York Jazz Messenger and Jazz Times. A Cal Arts MFA, her experience executing wall drawings for Sol Lewitt informs her practice.
With Lyn Horton’s lyrical lines as a two-dimensional back-drop, Maren Kloppmann’s ceramics command a still strength and quiet elegance. She sculpts perfectly smooth white forms and uses contrasting black glaze to create shapes to echo the dark openings of her vessels. Her vocabulary is subtle, soft and sensuous, flawless and balanced – there are no sharp edges, no jagged lines in her compositions. The work is soothing, the artist literally makes small pillow forms, underlining her gentle, comforting intent.
The German-born Maren Kloppmann says of her work, “Two premises inform my work; archetypes that exist as patterns and shapes in nature, and architecture, which identifies our spaces of existence and interaction. My aim is to balance a visual dialog between both aspects by combining traditional ceramic techniques with concepts found in Modernism and Minimalism”.
Horton begins with the pure white page, activating the blank field of space with dynamic lines and movement. Kloppmann tames the messy, unruly clay medium, by coaxing it into stable, contained shapes. Their opposites attract and the viewer is rewarded.
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present a solo show of paintings by distinguished artist Mary Armstrong. Her ethereal landscapes—which shift between the ground, water, and air—explore the symbiotic relationship between the earth and it’s atmosphere, evoking both a sense of serenity and turmoil.
Armstrong’s abstract interpretations of a landscape and views of a distant horizon are informed by 19th century painting approaches. Yet the artist’s method of scraping through luscious wax and oils on panel in order to reveal hyped-up colours from underneath, lend her work a decidedly contemporary vibe. A self-proclaimed “student of light and collector of air”, Armstrong’s fascination and deep appreciation for the world outside her studio has led her to translate both the physical and metaphysical elements of nature with a certain type of reverence; her palette delicate and harmonious, her work gracefully hovers in between the earthly and the airy worlds.
Her depictions of water emphasize the mutability and interplay of light and colour, effectively creating striking landscapes of the sea and the sky. It is, however, her interest in our constantly altering relationship to the earth itself that has caused her to develop feelings of anxiety and worry, which she conveys in the subtly turbulent overtones of her paintings. The dichotomies of the natural world that Armstrong explores ultimately lead her to inhabit a still undefined space, a realm of beauty filled with ambiguity and uncertainty, where the focus is on the general sensations and impressions, rather than the concrete physical elements of the environment she/we inhabit(s).
Mary Armstrong, a professor at Boston College, has been teaching painting since 1989. She began showing her paintings and drawings at Victoria Munroe Gallery in New York and Boston in 1985, and has since been featured in dozens of group exhibitions and been lauded with multiple awards.
Padua Blue Wave, 2014
Wax and Oil on Panel
12" x 12"
Green Wave #2, 2013
Wax and Oil on Panel
12" x 12"
Wind Shift, 2013
Wax and Oil on Panel
20" x 22"
20" x 22"
Green Wave #1, 2013
Wax and Oil on Panel
12" x 12"
Flood Tide, 2014
Wax and Oil on Panel
32" x 36"
Reid AM, 2014
Wax and Oil on Panel
12" x 12"
Twelve Kilometers of Heaven, 2013
Wax and Oil on Panel
20" x 16"
Space - June 2014
Currently on view is our first exhibition at the new location, called "SPACE", and features a number of our gallery artists including: Carole Bolsey, Kathy Erteman, Peter Charles, Leslie Parke, John Cole, Ben Van Dusen, Walter McConnell, David Hicks, Lyn Horton, Mary Armstrong, John Brown Jr, Kurt Weiser, and others.
Ben Van Dusen
John Cole, Michael Fujita, & Linda Lopez "Scores" - May 2014
Friday May 9th– May 31, 2014
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present “SCORES” an exhibition of new ceramic sculpture and photographs by three artists whose work is based on repeating dozens or “scores” of elements to create something greater than the sum of their individual parts. Each artist’s work is full of repetitions, multiples, and variations of a seemingly simple form, built up to a greater whole, creating order out of disorder. Together, the pieces are in conversation with one another.
Michael Fujita’s ceramic hand rolled tubes are laid row upon row until a handsome vessel takes form. Glazed in blues and greens, the macaroni-like bowls evoke various visual textures, drawing upon our tactile sensibilities. This is a labor of love, patience, and detail, and it therefore comes as no surprise that the artist experienced carpal tunnel syndrome while building these works. In his previous show at our gallery, Fujita’s repeated element was individually glazed spheres the size of gumballs, each work was multi-colored and looked almost machine-made. His new work, however, differs in its monochromatic palette, and the ragged edges serve to emphasize the handmade aspect of the vessels. Stacked one by one, each tube is completely unique, and the overall effect is of an entity growing organically of its own accord.
Linda Lopez’s ceramic sculptures are also labor intensive. Like Fujita, she becomes entranced in her repetitions and creates rather comical furry shapes that are reminiscent of sea anemones. Her clay teardrops elegantly melt down along the surface and are placed layer upon layer until the entire form is covered as densely as a head of hair. Lately she has extended tendrils from the core opening up her monoliths into the surrounding space, growing outward.
John Cole’s new series of photographs called the “Full Bleed Series” at first glance seem like Washington Color School paintings, Gene Davis-like, made of multiple stripes of color. The fact that these are actually extreme close-up views of the edges of stacked magazines is a delight. By refocusing one’s eyes to take in the tiny scale of the magazine page colored edges, it simultaneously gives us a way of looking at the ceramics. His observations give us a full perspective by both zooming in and zooming out of focus. Each image is made of scores of pages, not only filling the frame of the photograph, but also continuing past the edge of the frame, implying an endlessly repeating pile of magazines.
Ben Van Dusen & Roy Kesrouani "Two Architects" - April 2014
Friday, April 9th - May 7th, 2014
“Cosmic Metropolis” Large Scale Architectural Dreamscapes – Pen and Ink Drawings + Wallpaper + Wrapping Paper + Prints by DC’s own Ben Van Dusen
“Spooning Armchairs” –“A Dangerous Acquaintance with Fresh Archetypes of Lounging” by L.A. based Roy Kesrouani
Cross Mackenzie Gallery is pleased to present two architects whose work has branched off from their traditional architect’s drafting tables (or CAD programs) to bring us fresh designs for our living spaces.
Ben Van Dusen, noted DC architect, has created floor to ceiling pen and ink drawings of his fantastic vision of a utopian built environment. Part M.C. Escher and part Hollywood futuristic set, the drawings take you into deep architectural visual space.
Roy Kesrouani is an LA based architect who has designed gorgeous geometric chairs made from recycled plastic, light-weight, environmentally friendly, based on origami and – surprise – comfortable. They stack or “spoon” to make more open floor space.
These innovative architects are re-thinking our environment with ingenuity, elegance and humor.
John Brown "Out Of Africa" - March 2014
Friday, March 7th – April 9th, 2014
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present a solo show of new photographs taken while the artist was traveling in Tanzania in 2013. John H. Brown Jr. describes his experience:
“While exploring the African Savannah, the grand sculptural qualities of the foliage (including Acacia, Sausage, Balanites [Desert Date], Umbrella, Baobab, Almond, Tulip, and Palm) captured my attention…. The trees of the Serengeti compelled me to photograph their majestic, fragile, and enduring beauty.”
We have seen Brown’s passion for foliage before in his very successful “Vine Series,” shown at our gallery in 2010, where he photographed twisted wisteria in all seasons and in multiple variations, and manipulated the images into silhouettes and abstract forms. Now, a new continent and a new subject have inspired Brown to capture the monumental structures with their broad canopies, using the same powerful techniques. He captures the essence of these iconic trees while focusing our attention on their stark outlines – leaving his subject to hover between realism and abstraction. Like in the “Vine Series,” the extreme contrasts and deep blacks create calligraphy-like effects and display a bold graphic power.
Brown reflects, “These trees stand apart regally, almost in a solitary manner.” The photographer’s high regard for his subject is made apparent in these carefully crafted images.
Appropriately, some of the photographs have been sepia-toned – recalling the rich, red soil of their surroundings and underscoring the history that these large tangled branches have witnessed. Brown’s African discovery shares the look and feel of his predecessors’ early photographs made in the 1800’s and reminds us of Peter Beard’s book of photographs, “The Eyelids of Morning.”
Hanging on the large gallery wall are 10 sepia toned photographs framed separately in a grid. Some of the photographs have the grid within their design – breaking up a single image into 6 or 9 individual parts juxtaposing the organic, seemingly disorganized, almost chaotic direction of the branches with the orderly geometric grid, creating a frame within the frame – an internal latticework. One gets the sense the photographer is attempting to tame the chaos of nature’s swirling tendrils and harsh equatorial environment with his darkroom manipulations as he takes his subject, “Out of Africa,” literally into his studio to make his art. Brown’s African journey ends in our gallery with exquisite trophies gracing our walls.
John H. Brown Jr. holds a master’s degree in art history from Boston University and did post graduate study of photography at the Corcoran School of Art. He has received grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts and has been included in numerous solo and group shows here and abroad: notably, “Reflections in Black, a History of Black Photographers,” at the Smithsonian’s Art and Industry Gallery and the acclaimed traveling show, “Take me to the River,” with exhibitions in Texas, France and Egypt.
David Hicks "Nucleus" - January 2014
Friday January 10 – February 28, 2013
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present “Nucleus” an exhibition of new ceramic sculpture by the prolific and compelling California based artist, David Hicks. This is his third solo show at our gallery.
“I am still digging in the dirt to understand my attraction to the agricultural,” the artist says of this new body of work. Though Hicks continues in these botanic and organic themes, his compositions have opened up and become less dense – no longer hanging down with the force of gravity from vertical wires. The new work is metaphorically blossoming. His array of gourd-like shapes of various textures, hues and dimensions are now suspended from a metal armature fixed to the wall, projecting outward like sconces, flower-like, hovering in space.
In her 2013 review of Hicks’ 2011 exhibition, “Farewell” at our gallery for Ceramic Art and Perception, Janet Koplos described Hicks’ sculpture; “the works are wonderfully sensuous abstractions (as all pottery can be) and are especially appealing for both color and texture”.
Every element is unique and unfamiliar, inhabiting a place in one’s imagination between associations: at once a cantaloupe or pear, then a beached bouy, an insect pod, a bird’s nest or an exotic dirt encrusted seed. Koplos describes the density of Hicks’ previous work; “But the numbers, the depth of accumulation and the softly worn surfaces hint that they have been retired and frugally held in reserve. It is a library of objects”. Though the artist still draws from that library, the new presentation is more precious, now demanding examination and appreciation for the individual elements rather than focusing the viewer’s attention on the clustered mass. The ceramic forms are one-by-one lovingly harnessed into fitted brackets, more akin to diamond settings now than the sinkers on fishing lines of the past. Even with the artist’s fresh approach and careful selection, his paring down on the amount of objects in the sculptures, Hicks is far from being a minimalist. His wall pieces continue the artist’s themes of nature’s abundance and excess, the forces of bearing fruit and multiplying.
The sense of planting seeds is even more obvious in the two pedestal pieces in the show that sit tree-like with a central weighted stalk, branching out with the ceramic forms perched on and suspended from the metal limbs. We are tempted with the tactile rawness, to pick the heavy fruit before it drops.
David Hicks received his B.F.A. from California State University, Long Beach, CA. and his M.F.A. from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. His work is in several prominent collections including the World Ceramic Museum, Icheon, Korea, the American Museum of Ceramic Art–AMOCO, Pomona CA, the American Embassy in Figi through the State Department’s, Art in Embassies program and the Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe, AZ. He lives and works in Visalia CA. with his wife and new baby daughter.
Leslie Parke "Beach China" - November 2013
Friday November 8th – December 11, 2013
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present a solo show of paintings by acclaimed New York artist, Leslie Parke. Her subject matter fits well with our gallery’s program emphasis on ceramic arts, but with a two dimensional perspective.
The formal china Leslie Parke grew up with at her grandfather’s large Victorian beach house on Fire Island from Edith Wharton’s era, was never used in her mother’s generation. And by the time she and her brother inherited these boxes and boxes of fine English porcelain with place settings for every imaginable occasion, a storm had washed the family summer house out to sea. The china was saved and kept stored by yet another Parke family successor. One day, the artist and her brother decided to finally use the precious china. They brought it down to the ocean and laid it out on the beach; dinner plates, luncheon plates, soup bowls, serving plates, teapots, cups and saucers were placed on the water’s edge. As the artist poetically says, “Then the tide began to rise.”
The series of paintings that grew out of this nostalgic exercise are very poignant images. Floating and sinking plates in the water bring up thoughts of another time lost to us now. Like the treasures on the Titanic, beautiful objects are forever in a different world – another dimension. They remind us of a more formal epoch filled with elegant gowns and ceremonial decorum, now mostly abandoned for the conventions of a more casual era.
Parke’s subjects – water, crystal, china and crushed cans transformed into quasi-abstract compositions, become vehicles for shape, color, space and light. Her use of monumental scale, all-over compositions and gestures, assert the surface of the painting. She crops her images close to minimize the context of the scene, like the late Water Lilies by Monet or the drip paintings of Jackson Pollack, the viewer feels situated inside the painting.
Leslie Parke is a recipient of the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Individual Support Grant, the Lila Wallace Readers’ Digest Grant, the Claude Monet Foundation artist-in-residence in Giverny, France and the George Sugarman Foundation Grant among others. Her long list of exhibits include the Williams College Museum of Art, the Museum of the Southwest, in Midland Texas, the Fernbank Museum in Atlanta, the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Museo de Arte Moderno in Buenos Aires. She holds both a BA and MA from Bennington College and her work is in numerous corporate and private collections.
Kurt Weiser "The Nature of Imagination" - October 2013
Friday October 4th – October 30th, 2013
In collaboration with Ferrin Contemporary, Cross MacKenzie Gallery is proud to present a solo exhibition by noted ceramic artist, Kurt Weiser. Internationally recognized as an innovator in the field, Weiser is known for his technical virtuosity with porcelain forms, and his pioneering use of china painting techniques in his distinct contemporary style. Inspired by the 19th century illustrators of natural history like John James Audubon, Mark Catesby and William Bartram, Weiser develops the explorers’ imagery in clay.
The artist infuses the exquisite mastery of porcelain from the Ming and Qing dynasties and Meissen court painting, with the private reveries lifted from the pages of his nature-filled notebooks. His subject matter is lush, mysterious landscapes and distorted narratives set amidst color-saturated flora and fauna that read as voyeuristic snapshots into a surreal new world. Into his jungle scenes, figurative elements appear in his work, drawn both from fantasy and art history. Weiser’s figures, often nude and distorted across the planes of his vessels, move through steamy, Eden-like landscapes, interacting with the natural world they encounter. Themes of lust, predation, scientific curiosities, and the vulnerability of both man and nature abound in these scenes, resonating curiously with the cultivated vessel forms and refined medium Weiser has chosen. The vessel forms have morphed into globes of the world where the artist maps out his fantastic drawings of the earth of his vivid imagination. Recently, the artist’s forms have evolved into cubist inspired volumes creating multiple surfaces for his supremely rendered blue and white explorations. This exhibition presents work from 2009 - 2013.
Kurt Weiser is currently Regents Professor of Art in the Herberger College of the Arts, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Born in 1950 in Lansing, Michigan, Weiser trained in ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute under Ken Ferguson and received his MFA at the University of Michigan. He was director of the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana before moving to Arizona. Weiser’s work is included in numerous books and catalogues, cited in dozens of magazine articles and represented in significant museum collections worldwide.
Helen Frankenthaler Prints & Beth Kaminstein Ceramics - September 2013
Friday September 6th - October 2nd, 2013
We are proud and pleased to present an exhibition featuring two extraordinary artists whose work, though expressed in different medium, are in perfect accord. Much has been written about the late, great painter Helen Frankenthaler, and the prints on view in this exhibition are beautiful examples of her signature abstract expressionist work. Her legacy in Washington DC is of particular interest to us Washingtonians as she is credited with heavily influencing the colorists Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland who formed the center of the Washington Color School movement. Frankenthaler’s landmark canvas, “Mountains and Sea” in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, was painted in 1952 and was her first exploration of her famous stained canvas technique. Known for her originality in the print arena as well, her fresh washes of color enliven these stunning works on paper.
It is exciting to pair Frankenthaler’s prints with the work of an artistic disciple, Beth Kaminstein, who deftly wields layers of glaze on her clay vessels as the master skillfully stained her canvases. Kaminstein’s colors are fluid and watery – her intuitive gestures and surprises dash across the ceramic surface to our delight. She owes a debt to her predecessor and there is a direct link to the source.
Frankenthaler and Kaminstein both attended Bennington College, though different generations they share this common experience (along with the director of the Cross MacKenzie Gallery). During the 70’s when Kaminstein studied drawing and painting there, Frankenthaler was a powerful figure in the art world and her influence was clearly present at her alma mater.
Beth Kaminstein has been a practicing ceramist since her student days, after which she worked and taught at the Greenwich House Pottery, Parsons School of Art and Montclair State College.
She and her potter husband moved their studios in 1989 from NYC to the Florida Keys where they throw their pots with an enviable ocean view. After a visit to Greece in the 70’s where she encountered a ceramic artist swimming while firing his kiln, Kaminstein was determined to create her own perfect life-work-art balance. Remarkably, “Contentment Island” is the title of one of Frankenthaler’s prints.
John Cole "The Walls" - May 2013
Friday May 3rd - June 5th, 2013
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of work by up-and-coming architectural photographer John Cole, in our gallery for the first time. The images in this series, “Walls” are all about observing mindfully, seeing thoughtfully, paying closer attention and looking anew. Cole teaches us about our relationship with our surroundings and through his subtle framing of the seemingly mundane, the artist’s philosophy is on display along with his photographs. Walls are not just facades of buildings, barriers or supports, they are inviting tableaus for the unpredictable, they are non-linear time-lines. These walls are pages from autograph books inviting the signatures of weather, accident, sunlight and serendipity. The viewer must be present in order not to overlook the “writing on the wall” that there is more to be seen.
A graduate of Virginia Tech University, John Cole has applied his art & art history degree in his practice of the discipline of formal architectural photography – the art of interpreting the large-scale forms into two dimensions. Cole’s “Wall” photographs are an outgrowth of that study and his affection for our built environment remains evident in these more intimate views.
Kathy Erteman "Catalpa" - April 2013
Friday April 5th – May 1st, 2013
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new ceramic work by renowned artist and designer Kathy Erteman. In the two and a half years since her last show at our gallery, Erteman has developed a new body of work in part inspired by her continued engagement with the Nixi Tibetan Potters from Diquing Prefecture, Yunnan, China. Through the organization, Aid to Artisans, Erteman has been granted the State Department’s Nwang Choephel Fellow’s Program Professional and Cultural Exchange Award and will return to China this summer. In American Craft Magazine’s 2009 profile on Erteman, she explains that “the Nixi potters have been making the same black pots for 2,000 years – her goal was to assist them in bringing their wares to the new market of Chinese tourists flooding the formerly unreachable regions”. Erteman shared her design expertise and her precision techniques to achieve fitted lids and flat-bottomed pots and in turn they shared their approach for decorating yak butter tea pitchers and their Tibetan culture. In the upcoming exchange, there are plans for an environmentally friendly kiln and another American tour of ceramic studios for the Nixi artisans.
Kathy Erteman has been a practicing ceramic artist and designer for 30 years. After receiving her BFA from California State University at Long Beach, she worked with the artist Judy Chicago on her ground breaking feminist work The Dinner Party. Comfortable straddling both the functional and fine art worlds, Erteman’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution, Los Angeles County Museum and Taipei Museum of Fine Arts and she has designed for companies such as Tiffany’s, and Dansk. 2012 began with the launch of 18th Street Dinnerware, Erteman’s exclusive design for Crate and Barrel named after her studio address in New York City. Her wheel thrown originals were thoughtfully interpreted and produced in Thailand. She currently teaches at the famed Greenwich House Pottery in NYC and has taught at the Brooklyn Museum and Parsons School of Art.
“Catalpa” ambles across the wall in narrative groupings of hand built porcelain inspired by natural forms. Abstracted seed pods, husks and clay stones are arranged and installed following the theory of chance as laid out in the I Ching and practiced by contemporary artists most notably John Cage.
Erteman’s vessel forms have been honed to minimalist perfection. She builds surface texture with layers of clay slip and contrasting, smooth glazes creating a tactile sensuality through a Modernist lens. Now, more sculpture than pot, these one-of-a-kind vessels literally and figuratively hold water.
Kurt Godwin "Through The Trees" - March 2013
Friday March 1st – April 3rd, 2013
Cross Mackenzie Gallery is pleased to present “Through the Trees”, an exhibition of new paintings by VCU art professor Kurt Godwin, one of the DC area’s most accomplished artists. Art in America critic, J.W. Mahoney, describes Kurt Godwin’s previous body of work, “Philosophy of Nature” as follows; “These paintings intentionally marry three visual worlds: the plain representation of natural place and organic growth, the abstracting of conditions in physical reality according to scientific iconography, and various symbol systems that serve as analogies to the qualities and nature of a transcendent reality”
In this new show, “Through The Trees”, Godwin achieves that “transcendent reality” by returning to the representation and abstraction of natural place – he is painting the shimmering, hypnotic, mesmerizing light. He has shed his complex layering of symbols and scientific imagery to concentrate on the pure powerful force of the radiant sun. Godwin is a magician with paint and he wields his brush skillfully, delivering lush surfaces, animated brushstrokes and dabs of singing color. The viewer gets glimpses of a burning sunset, a reflection of a cloudless cerulean sky and a fractured, mid-day white haze.
Leafless dark tree trunks in shadow act as filters for the light that bends around their silhouettes. One gets the sense that the light would be blinding without the vertical shields that protect one’s eye’s from the harsh rays behind – while at the same time that light beckons like a stained glass window. For some, these woods are dark and threatening, the branches cage-like. For the artist and this viewer these paintings are beautiful, peaceful reminders of walks through the trees, away from the noise and danger of the world inspiring a feeling of awe in nature and sunlight – a transcendent reality.
Walter McConnell "New Theories" - January 2013
Friday January 11th - February 27th, 2013
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of new ceramic sculpture by acclaimed sculptor Walter McConnell. The artist will create an original work from his extraordinary stacked porcelain series, “The Theory of Everything” in our gallery. Hundreds of individual pieces of slip cast and glazed porcelain; faux-Ming vases, kitschy figurines, Disney dwarves and grandma’s collectibles – form his now iconic stupa-like forms – this time in evocative, if somewhat sinister, hues. The new hauntingly dark work is comprised of black, metallic charcoal and burnt umber elements with McConnell’s signature crystalline glazes bursting across the surfaces, creating a rich patina of contrasts and baroque excesses. The clash of cultures is intentional as the artist presents the viewer with multiple hidden messages embedded in the juxtapositions. McConnell’s extravagant floor-to-ceiling ceramic creations become greater than the sum of their parts. The works culminate in a pyramidal architectural form aptly described in a Washington Post art review, “McConnell’s artistic sensibility transforms western pop cultural waste into an eastern aesthetic worthy of worship”.
The exhibition also includes a small, raw clay piece representing a part of his oeuvre for which he is most well known. His “wet works” are unfired environments created on site, encased in a plastic sheath forming a terrarium-like garden world that remains moist and alive through the constant process of condensation within. These site-specific pieces take teams of assistants to install – the process fascinating performance art in itself. A time lapsed film made of McConnell’s recent installation at the University of Tennessee demonstrates the process and will be on view at the gallery during the show.
Professor McConnell teaches at the New York State College of Ceramics, Alfred University. He has been awarded significant grants and prizes – most notably the Tiffany Prize and he has installed his monumental works in a number of museums including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts, and the Daum Museum in Missouri.
"Macho" - December 2012
Skip Brown, Paul Di Pasquale, Joel D’Orazio, Jim French, Joe Hicks, Allen Linder, Max MacKenzie, Rogelio Maxwell, Camden Place, James Rieck, Diana Williams, Charlie Sleichter
Saturday December 1st, 2012 - January 5th, 2013
Cross Mackenzie is pleased to present a group show of 12 artists whose work represents 12 distinct considerations of contemporary masculinity.
“Macho” takes as its point of departure recent debates about the role of men in contemporary society. Both the disturbing and comic evocations of our title engage with the conflicting realities of post-modern manhood. We hope that the ambiguity of the term “macho” will open up a new discussion rather than continue an old one. The work in the show does not attempt to pin down any literal definitions of masculinity, manhood, or machismo. Rather, we find in the artworks in “Macho” a variety of themes, aesthetics, and philosophies that fruitfully complicate a word that is burdened by stereotype. Violence and action stand out as two threads that weave throughout the show and begin to reveal a picture of what “Macho” might look like beyond the confines of stereotype.
In the work of Diana Williams and Paul DiPasquale, emblems of macho violence are transformed into objects of defused beauty. Diana Williams is a German-born Australian who has spent the last several years studying with master sculptors in China. Her missile sculptures are an attempt to grapple with the military past, present, and future of her family. With a husband and son in the navy, Williams’ beautiful pieces are an attempt to reconcile creation and destruction.
Joel d’Orazio’s BB Rondos similarly evoke objects of destruction, but they also resemble machines or scientific instruments. D’Orazio was a practicing architect for 25 years and indeed his works reveal an architectural relationship to objects. He works in a variety of mediums, often using found materials to create abstract but referential pieces. His BB Rondo pieces, like Williams’ missiles and DiPasquale’s archeological guns, are objects that refer to a human activity, but, in the absence of that activity, transform into still and beautiful objects of contemplation.
Ceramicist Joe Hicks’ Spark Plug forges a similar relationship between object and its imagined use. His Spark Plug transforms a banal object associated, literally, with mechanical power into a totem. Like D’Orazio’s pieces, Hick’s Spark Plug invites contemplation by disassociating itself from human activity. Rogerio Maxwell’s colorful tire prints also allude to the traditionally male world of cars and surprises us with a traditionally feminine palette. Sleichter’s subject is the mostly male world of golf.
However, in the work of Skip Brown, Camden Place, and Allen Linder, it is precisely human activity that comes to the forefront. Macho physicality displayed through muscle and movement develops a human story within the work. Jim French’s robust male nudes represent the most literal interpretation of the theater of “macho” sexuality. Skip Brown’s photo of a boy posing with muscles like a strong man demonstrates this concept that “macho” as identity is an act – the action a put-on. Power-suits are put on by the power brokers in James Rieck’s impressive painting of macho boardroom power.
Brown’s extreme sports photographs capture an action into stillness, retaining all the energy of the human and natural forces at work. The kayaker and white water are equal subjects in his work, and both subjects represent an extremity of power and beauty. The powerful forces at work at not in conflict but in harmony. Similarly Max MacKenzie’s photograph through his feet while flying his ultra light, demonstrates the extremes of masculine bravery.
Camden Place, however, does create a kind of thematic conflict in his woodcarvings, by subverting the macho themes that he invokes. In “Frank and Michael Met Online,” the violence and bravado of hunting is absent, and a surprising tenderness—in the figure’s pose and the evocative title—takes their place. Similarly, “Adam’s work is never done” suggests the machismo of physical labor, but the figure is softened by his humble pose and naïve expression.
Allen Linder’s Beings are muscular figures caught in deft acts of physical strength that are surprisingly gentle and delicate. In one Being, a man rises from what is perhaps a theater seat, raises his hands to clap, his face showing a surprising expression of intensity: a normal, even cliché physical expression is turned into a comical and even unsettling physical shape. The body here is tantamount: the body, not the face, tells the story. Linden focuses on the physicality of his sculpture, and sees the physical process of sculpting as a creative process of discovery.
In fact, all the work in “Macho” has a strong sense of the physical and viewing the work is itself a physical experience of creative discovery. Machismo can be interpreted as an ésprit of action—be it extreme or even violent. In that sense, the themes of violence and activity in the work presented here form a thematic exploration of machismo but not a didactic manifestation of it. The work itself is not macho even if its themes are. Rather than forcing themselves onto their viewers, the work in the show embodies a stillness, silence, and beauty that subvert the violence, action, and extremity of its subject matter. Thus they present objects and planes for reflection, in which the viewer is encouraged to bring his own subjectivities to continue the conversation.
Scooter Flaherty & Jon McMillan - November 2012
Thursday November 1st - November 30th, 2012
In dialogue with one another’s work, and with the modern masters of the 20th century, “In Dialogue” presents contemporary paintings and sculptures by two artists, Scooter Flaherty and Jon McMillan – both new to cross mackenzie gallery. Within the tradition of the greats of abstract expressionism like Mark Rothko and Clifford Still and the more recent painters, Sean Scully and Brice Marden, Scooter Flaherty expands their reach and breaks new ground. Flaherty reinterprets these classics with an elegant hand – creating a nuanced dynamism of original color on his canvases. The layered and textured surfaces of the vertical masses are charged and activated at their edges with intense colors, making an energetic visual vibration. The color relationships are heightened by the sense of pressure at the convergence of the masses, yet harmonize to the whole of the painted color fields.
Against this backdrop, and in dialogue with these beautiful paintings is the work by relative newcomer, ceramic sculptor, Jon McMillan. His carefully carved totems also recall early modernists like sculptors Lipchitz and Laurens but he takes their once-radical cubist carvings into the 21st century with his new softer angles and sometime whimsical anthropomorphic references.
Both artists are sensitive to the tactile seduction of their surfaces – the colors are complex and layered. The fact of the underlying material is not lost or hidden – one is aware of the clay or the canvas beneath. One might imagine that if Flaherty engaged in sculpture he would create McMillan-like totems and likewise if this sculptor were to expand his totems’ surfaces onto canvas he would arrive at a Flaherty-like canvases. It is a rewarding artistic dialogue for the viewer.
Jon McMillan earned his MFA at Southern Illinois University in 2009, and currently teaches ceramics at The Mary Washington University. He recently returned from an art residency at the prestigious Vallauris Institute of the Arts in France. Highlights from his resume include a solo show at the Larkin Gallery Harrisonburg VA, inclusion in the shows “Small Favors II” at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia and “Feats of Clay” in California.
Scooter Flaherty, a long time resident of DC has participated in numerous solo and group shows in Washington and New York most recently at Gallery Plan B in 2008. He received his BFA from Ohio State University and participated in the McClancy Studio Program of Empire State College and apprenticed with noted painter Stewart Hitch.
Jason Walker "Corporeal Perspectives" - October 2012
Friday October 5th – October 31st, 2012
In collaboration with the Ferrin Gallery of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Cross MacKenzie Gallery is proud to present a solo exhibition of sculpture by noted ceramic artist, Jason Walker. His first exhibition in Washington DC, the artist continues to explore themes of man’s relationship to the natural environment through his extraordinary and seamless combination of painting and sculpture. Walker’s hope is that his work will lead us all to rethink our perceptions of nature, culture and wilderness.
In each of the sculptures in the show, the artist presents the inherent conflict of man’s connection to nature and technology – at once embracing and living with technology while at the same time understanding technology’s potential destruction of our nostalgic notions about nature. Walker questions the definition of nature that excludes man and the man-made – underlining this notion by setting many of his pieces in water or air where man is a guest among the fish and birds. Only through technology has man adapted to these worlds in order to take advantage of the resources. The artist is careful however, not to make judgments about society, “I am not so much taking a critical look at society as I am simply taking a critical look at myself in the society in which I live,” and he is quick to point out that he relies on technology in the form of glasses, “few of us can live outside the influence of 21st century technology”.
Upon acquaintance with Jason Walker’s artwork, it comes as no surprise that he was born out west, in Pocatello, Idaho. The western environment has been an ongoing source of inspiration for him – he has logged a 75 mile hiking trip through Yosemite for example, drawing on sketches made on the trail for his detailed surface imagery. His early training was as an illustrator at University of Utah where he received his BFA then went on to Penn State for his MFA in ceramics where he began employing his skills as a draftsman onto the three dimensional forms of his clay sculpture. He continues to hone this merging of 2 and 3 dimensions through his mature work on view in this exhibition, “Corporeal Perspectives”. The artist’s work is included in many important public and private collections such as the De Young Museum in San Francisco and the Arizona State University Art Museum among others. He has been awarded the prestigious NCECA fellowship to study in Japan and has had long-term artists residencies including at the renowned Archie Bray Foundation.
Walker spent time in Vallauris, France developing a new clay body and his recent residency in China sparked a new phase of experimentation. Determined to overcome the color limitations posed by commercial underglazes, he ventured into large-scale tile production and china painting on high-fired porcelain with the satisfying results he has now incorporated into his sculptural practice.
This exhibit showcases his new large-scale wall relief piece, “Blind Admiration” along with several of Walker’s porcelain sculptures of birds and animals, all painted in intricate detail with under glazes and china paints. At first glance, “Blind Admiration” presents us with a beautiful bucolic landscape with butterflies and other winged creatures buzzing about the foliage, a nest of hungry of fledglings in the foreground. But on a second look, the landscape is framed by black plumbing pipes, the light attracting the moths is a glaring light bulb, the cityscape on the red glowing horizon and the nest is a cradle of human hands– literally holding the fate of the bird’s future. Birds feature prominently in this exhibition. Walker’s entire body of work makes an exquisite petition for good stewardship of the planet.
Lyn Horton - September 2012
Friday September 7th - September 29th, 2012
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present a solo show of wall installations and works on paper by Massachusetts based artist, Lyn Horton, following her well-received participation in the gallery’s spring group show, “TWISTED”. This exhibition presents a more complete picture of Horton’s oeuvre from her individual small works on paper to her monumental site-specific wall drawings that employ velvet rope for the linear elements and are applied directly onto the painted wall.
Horton’s work is visual jazz – rhythmic, layered, sensuous and adheres to her own sensibilities. It is no surprise Lyn Horton writes about jazz – her passion. Her reviews have been regulars in Jazz Times, The New York Jazz Messenger, her own music blog - The Paradigm for Beauty and other publications, and her drawings have graced CD covers, most recently Wadada Leo Smith’s “Ten Freedom Summers”. Her jazz musings could describe her own art. Though reviewing a musical artist, Horton said; “The music Is thematic, tends to be quiet, slightly explosive, adheres to (the musician’s) sense of humor, lyricism and even romantic melody” an apt expression of the Lyn Horton exhibition in our gallery September.
As Mark Jenkins noted in his review in the Post of her recent work, “ the drawings are still minimalist but with a sensuous ease” and “her “Loop” series twirls further away from Euclidean geometry”. Many of the works in this exhibition are made of hypnotic twists of interwoven lines starting with circles and swoops that build to a crescendo – one layer over the other, line after line (or note by note and phrase by phrase) – in a repetitive, rhythmic, musical pattern.
Horton’s MFA degree show at Cal Arts focused on the line and its place in minimalism and she has continued mining that vein ever since. Her experience executing wall drawings for minimalist Sol Lewitt informs her practice; she is a master of controlling her small pencil – mark by mark – with quiet, obsessive, painstaking, repetition – until a large and powerful work of art emerges.
Anthony Stellaccio & Mary Armstrong - May 2012
Friday May 18th - June 30th, 2012
Cross MacKenzie Gallery to pleased to present an exhibition of ceramics by Anthony Stellaccio and paintings by Mary Armstrong.
Anthony Stellaccio’s approach to his practice is most serious – though he plays with toys. Fulbright Fellow and writer, Stellaccio’s his new book “Lithuanian Folk Ceramics; Inside and Out” was published last year, and his day job is as a Curatorial Research Specialist for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. Though equally scholarly in his approach to his ceramics, his clay work express a more playful side, referencing children’s play things, game pieces, pets and domesticated animals. Stellaccio’s extensive travels and studies of other cultures, have been synthesized into his sculpture through the universal language of toys.
This body of work is full of dynamic contrasts, rough, un-polished porcelain with cracked glazes atop smooth, reflective black and white Formica pedestal-like bases. The artist’s process also informs his work. Achieving the level of pristine finish in the modern material of Formica requires exacting attention to detail and serious precision. Just the opposite is his approach to man’s most ancient material, clay. He applies traditional rudimentary brick making techniques to the clay, purposefully limiting his modeling – playing a game with himself, making up the rules of manipulation. Often the clay is left with a deliberate hand-hewn finish underlining the difference and drawing attention to the significance of the materials. The supports are of a grand furniture scale, often echoing the shape of the tiny figurines on top and signifying their importance.
Recently, the artist has added color to his ceramic forms, adding yet another reference to the brightly hued toys one finds in our modern western culture. It is the viewer’s visual pleasure to play with Stellaccio’s toys.
The color in Mary Armstrong’s paintings, resonates with Stellaccio’s fresh new green glazes and compliments the three-dimensional, hard edged sculpture in the gallery. Armstrong’s soft paintings hover between landscapes and atmosphere, shifting back and forth from a view of a distant horizon to the drifting particles of dust and clouds in the air. They are beautiful, her palette delicate and harmonious – Armstrong is a true colorist. She studies Bonnard’s hot pinks and the light filled Impressionists, but her paintings have a contemporary sensibility. Armstrong scratches through her luscious wax and oils on panel to reveal hyped-up color from underneath, then layering over that, she draws, dabs and obscures any straight perspective – floating amongst the layers. Her titles suggest her sense of the in-between too, “Any Given Moment”, Near Here” keep the places from being pinned down, specific and particular. The paintings look like the out-of-focus space beyond the airplane window while traveling long distances, that time and place where one can’t do anything else or be anywhere else, when one is literally suspended in air and time and perfectly content. I am drawn to this beautiful, dreamy, nowhere, world she has created.
"Twisted" Group Show - April 2012
Friday April 13th - May 16th, 2012
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present “Twisted”, a group exhibition featuring 5 artists who share the use of a single element – the simple curving line – as the launching point to create engaging and complex works. Patterns are formed by the repeating interwoven lines in these artworks in four different mediums – photography, ceramics, wood and works on paper. In each piece, there is a sense that the artist is controlling and bending a force to their will to create order out of chaos. One has the feeling that the curving, curling, wild lines have their own agenda, a desire to escape the restraints of the drawing or sculpture’s bounds, but are disciplined into aesthetic submission.
Lyn Horton’s pencil and gouaches drawings are hypnotic. These works of seemingly infinite repetition of the pencil stroke; up-down-up-down over and over again, conjure the chanting of a meditative state and the sounds of music. The artist has executed Sol Lewitt wall drawings and is a master of controlling her small pencil – line by line – until a large and powerful work of art emerges. We will present a one-person show of Horton’s works on paper and wall installations in the fall.
John Brown’s photographs capture wisteria vines in silhouette that reach with sinuous strands across the watercolor paper like jet-black India ink spills. This current work is an outgrowth of the striking “Vine Series” presented at Cross MacKenzie last spring.
Real Midwestern cyclones are captured in the height of their twisting motion in the dynamic charcoal drawings by the Iowan artist, Ellen Wagener. The energy of the twisters is present in these small but power packed pieces included in the show.
Laurel Lukaszewski has broken out of her familiar black and white extruded ceramic elements with a new hanging ceramic sculpture made of colored clay ribbons which reference vines even more directly in this palette of twisted lines.
Finally, noted architect and sculptor, Charles Anthony, tames twisted wood and writhing vines to create beautiful mirror frames whose interwoven elements literally have to be tied and screwed down to control their natural habit of reaching for another vertical to use as a climbing trellis. Combing hair in front of these mirrors is like mimicking the efforts of the sculptor in smoothing down stray curving lines of hair into a pleasing frame of the face. Anthony’s architectural projects must stand up to serious building codes, classical dimensions and construction deadlines. His whimsical side is let loose here to our delight. The tension in all of these works of art comes from their twisted nature – parallel lines need not apply.
John Brown Jr.
Peter Charles - March 2012
Friday March 2nd - April 11th, 2012
We are pleased to present the exquisite screens, drawings and paintings on paper and steel, by one of Washington DC’s most well established and accomplished artists, Peter Charles. Charles’ sophisticated aesthetic and powerful graphic sensibility dominates the work in this solo exhibition spanning a decade of the artist’s mature work. His large-scale, painted folding screens are inspired by traditional Japanese screen designs and 19th century American still life painting – a fusion of east and west. The artist paints both faces of the screens in a complimentary relationship and employs the mechanics of the antique screens using modern day durable materials. The “verso” sides of the screens are evocatively spare.
Peter Charles is both a painter and a sculptor – his impressive art school training in painting and sculpture reflects his enduring interest in this dual approach. By folding the heavy watercolor paper accordion-like and mounting the drawings on linen, his two dimensional works are given a tangible physical presence. Some of his three dimensional steel sculptures are flattened wall-mounted pieces growing out if his interest in Early American tole ware. He constructs his tray-like forms from rolls of sheet steel – bends, folds, welds, shapes and rusts them before meticulously painting his still-life subjects. The refined language of patterns and images Charles has developed has evolved over time and draws from a rich visual experience with various cultural roots and art historical references. The push-pull of disparate elements within each piece; geometric – organic, natural – man-made, raw – polished, are united in accord in the finished art work.
A D.C. native, Peter Charles grew up with a singularly Washingtonian experience as the Head Page of the Senate. He graduated from the U.S. Capitol Page School before he headed north to receive his B.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design and his Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from Yale University. He currently teaches Fine Art at Georgetown University here in D.C. Peter Charles has mounted exhibitions of his work in galleries and museums throughout the United States including the Phillips Collection and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C., the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y., the Huntington Museum, Huntington W.V., the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston Salem, N.C., David Findlay and Ruth Siegel Galleries in New York, N.Y., Zolla-Lieberman Gallery, Chicago and the Koplin Gallery in L.A. Included in the list of his many awards is a Visual Arts Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Hyun Kyung Yoon - January 2012
Saturday January 14th - February 29th, 2012
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of the new ceramic work of Hyun Kyung Yoon. Her second show with Cross MacKenzie, Yoon’s recent work builds on her earlier wall installations inspired by the art of calligraphy. “Flow” the ceramic installation Yoon mounted in 2008, was made up of 40 individual monochromatic black elements that danced across the space with lyricism and grace. Each element connected visually to the next piece, letter by letter, spelling out a three-dimensional message that spoke volumes. Her language is volume, space, and linear movement. In the recent work, the artist has added new complexities, color, surface design and flame-like spikes to add expressiveness to the parts
Hyun Kyung Yoon divides her time between her studio in her native Korea and Richmond where she is an adjunct professor at V.C.U. She received her B.S. in Applied Design from the University of Minnesota and her MFA in Ceramics from Virginia Commonwealth University. Yoon has shown widely in the United States and Korea. Recently her work was included in “CLAY 2011- Today and Tomorrow” an exchange exhibition of Chinese and Souh Korean artists at the Jingdezen Ceramic Institute, Jingdezen China and “Change Exchange” at the Verein Berliner Kunstler in Germany. She has had solo shows at the Tong-In Gallery in Seoul and at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts, USA. In 2007 she had the privilege to be invited to the 5th Cheongju International Craft Biennial in Korea.
Tati Kaupp - December 2011
December 3rd, 2011 - January 12nd, 2012
Exuberance is the word that immediately comes to mind when describing Tati Kaupp’s vibrant paintings. In her earlier work, the intense color palette reflected the light from her childhood years in Mexico and the southwest, but even in these new darker paintings aptly titled “The Winter Series”, the work looks celebratory. There is a sense of lightness and air here; circles, floating shapes, dots and squiggles rise to the top of her canvases with explosive effervescence. The champagne glasses she included in her “Wedding Series” from 2007 are gone but not the bubbles. These abstract canvases full of harmonious blocks of strong color are anchored by her use of rich charcoal grays, midnight blues and deep blacks. The paintings are layered with patterns which dance and move across the surface, almost bursting beyond the edge of the canvas, sometimes literally crossing onto another canvas to create a diptych. One feels energized and excited by the fresh paint this artist delivers. Let’s toast the season with her canvases.
Charles Birnbaum - November 2011
November 11th - December 2nd, 2011.
Art historian and art critic Suzanne Ramljak, coined the apt title for our show, “An Orgy of Form”, in her critique of a Birnbaum exhibition when describing the work. Orgy: “occasions of unrestrained indulgence designed to satisfy extravagant cravings”. This official meaning of the word, well defines Birnbaum’s extravagant sculptures made up of undulating and intertwined shapes full of erotic overtones. The patterned elements are stacked and layered, with protruding tapered appendages and sensuous tendrils reaching dangerously away from the safety of the massed center. Any scuba diver will feel in his element with these coral like colonies and sea anemone-like fingers teeming and writhing in the atmosphere.
Charles Birnbaum, once a student of Ken Ferguson the famous ceramic sculptor in Kansas City, uses paper in his clay to give the porcelain more tensile strength and flexibility to hold up to the delicate and taxing methods employed by the artist. He presses the clay into surface textures - then folds, bends, pulls and miraculously twists the elements into an adventure in expressive form that even those studied in the techniques of ceramics are unable to understand or replicate. With no reflective clear glaze, the white porcelain absorbs the light and has a bone-like quality to it, underscoring its relationship to the natural world. The final result is a body of work that reflects a beautiful struggle of abandon and control – the “unrestrained indulgence” versus the challenging technical discipline of working with, and taming this material. This extravagant aesthetic brings us back to the divine excesses of the Baroque period – a perfect artistic counterpoint to all the understated contemporary minimalism of the new neo-modernism movement. The viewer is refreshed, delighted and abundantly satisfied.
Rose-Lynn Fisher - October 2011
October 14th - November 11th, 2011
The California based photographer, Rose-Lynn Fisher says of her subjects,
“Our most important pollinator, the ultimate synergist, an architect, spacial genius, winged apothecary, and the transmuter of the finest substance of nectar into honey, the honeybee has been revered and utilized by civilizations throughout time.”
Fisher’s reverence for the honeybee is unparalleled as evidenced by her astonishing black and white photographs of ultra close-up images of the anatomy of these magical creatures. The detail revealed is stunning and surprising. Magnified sometimes up to 5,000 times in her microscope, the patterns she discovers are otherworldly, more like landscapes than miniatures. Hair and pollen look like forests of trees and boulders through Fisher’s lens – the bee’s abdomen resembles rolling foothills after a forest fire. The fact that the compound eye of the bee is made up of hexagons mirroring the hexagonal structure of their honeycombs expands our thinking about the natural world. Our sense of scale is confused and connections of micro and macro are made tangible.
Fisher’s focus is sharp and her images are clean. The richness of her grey scale, her deep blacks and contrasting whites, subtle warm tones and gentle light, would please any classic photography connoisseur. There are no extraneous elements in these photographs and they function like powerful abstractions at this scale. But, that they are images of bees is essential – there is a message here.
One third of what we humans consume, depends on bee pollination - their plight is deeply connected to ours. The honeybee population is shrinking fast, having declined 35% from 2006 – 2009, threatened by mites, habitat loss, pesticides and the mysterious colony collapse disorder that has devastated their numbers. These photographs help us appreciate bees on another -usually unseen - level, through this artist’s sensitive vision. Gaining a deeper understanding of their hidden beauty and structure will no doubt point us towards the direction of conservation.
“ I offer these photographs in celebration, respect, and gratitude for all that they do and are.” - Rose-Lynn Fisher from her book, “BEE” 2010 Princeton Architectural Press.
Michael Fujita - September 2011
We are pleased to announce the first solo artist exhibition in our new gallery location, of recent sculptural works by the Philadelphia-based ceramic artist Michael Fujita. Fujita’s work presents the viewer with a cornucopia of color and visual delight through his balancing act of bubble gum-like balls on bridges and stacked, extruded, ceramic, macaroni-like monuments. These mixed media works are full of surprising structural juxtapositions and downright delicious surfaces. The artist’s sensibility is clearly in evidence. “I have a strong commitment to both craft and beauty, firmly believing that concept and ideas travel most effectively along this path” says Fujita. Currently an artist in residence at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Fujita will be in at the gallery’s reception for the artist on September 16th 6-8pm. The exhibition will run through October 12th.
“Bridge” is a work that spans space with the ceramic ball elements supported in an arch that reaches across to the two wooden trestle-like structures holding the weight. The piece underscores – and at the same time reverses – the natural attributes of the materials of wood and clay. Clay is malleable and bendable but becomes rigid and breakable after firing. By suspending the delicate and ceramic elements, the artist makes the bridge even more dynamic by drawing one’s attention to its vulnerability. Ignoring wood’s tensile strength, it is also used as the solid support for “Field” where the multicolored ceramic balls form a suspended floating wall of riotous color. Achieving that dramatic variation of intense color and surface quality in clay is a technical challenge due to the multiple firing temperatures often required and the necessary careful control of oozing glazes. One can appreciate the fine craftsmanship displayed and the arduous, labor intensive repetition in evidence, but one can also experience and enjoy the pure visual candy. The edible metaphor is reiterated in many of the pedestal pieces as well; pixie sticks, pulled taffy and pasta are in play here and any cook will relate to the alchemy of mastering temperature and texture in the oven or in this case, the kiln. But our artist-chef hasn’t spoiled us with too much sweetness – the work is satisfying and rich in its sophisticated elegance and spare contours, original material combinations and sculptural inventiveness.
David Hicks - May 2011
April 15th - May 2011
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present “Farewell” a new ceramic sculpture exhibition by the prolific and powerful artist, David Hicks. This is his second one-person show at our gallery. The title of the show reflects the artist’s recent move from his native California to North Carolina and the sculpture by that name was the last he made in his west coast studio. This exhibition will also be the last in our Canal Square gallery before we move to a new location in Dupont Circle.
This show builds on themes of agriculture and gravity that Hicks explored previously, but the compositions have grown denser, more complex and literally and figuratively heavier. Hicks continues to create an array of gourd-like shapes of various textures and dimensions with an incredible scope of variation. Each element is unique and unfamiliar, inhabiting a place in one’s imagination between associations: at once a cantaloupe, then a beached bouy, an insect’s pod, a bird’s nest or curing salamis and hanging Dutch cheeses. The delight is in the discovery of the imaginative elements and the surprising harmony of the whole. Somehow, all these individual parts grouped together add up to a powerful physical presence and visual experience.
The structure is simple and obvious which helps the sense of order - a single or multiple hooks supporting the steel cables threaded through the ceramic bulbs that dangle and pile up. There is no “less is more” here – its all about abundance and excess, bearing fruit and multiplying, heavy and ripe and ready to plummet. But the sculpture stays up and holds our attention, tempted though we are with the tactile rawness, to pick the fruit before it falls.
There are several pedestal pieces in the show that defy gravity in another way by acting more like metal than clay in their design. With no tensile strength, Hicks has managed to create architectural skeletal structures of openness and space in clay, grids more suited to steel, but the effect is stunning in glazed ceramic.
Cindy Kane - March 2011
March 18th -April 13th, 2011
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present new paintings on magazine covers by artist, Cindy Kane. A DC area native, Kane was brought up in a politically active family and remains keenly attuned to current affairs and its coverage. In her paintings on magazine covers, she engages in a dialogue with the coverage of the headlines as she juxtaposes her images with the magazine titles and all the publications’ subject implies. Her observations and commentaries are sometimes poignant, often whimsical and always timely. A favorite is her exquisite painting of butterfly wings on the cover of “Worth” magazine – her meaning is clear – it is not the financial matters normally profiled within, that truly hold real value. On “Art in America” she renders a most delicate bird portrait, reminding us that no matter how skilled the artist, the work doesn’t approach the magnificent art in nature. “TIME” magazine is transformed by her depiction of a humming bird whose wings beat at a rate unfathomable in a human’s understanding of time and space. She addresses the bear and bull markets with close-ups of the beasts on “Economist” covers, she paints melting glaciers on “Coastal Living” and renders oceans ablaze on “Fortune” magazine. In addition to riffing on the national publications, Kane has painted on our local DC magazines such as DC, Capitol File, National Geographic, the Economist, The Atlantic and DC Luxury. Working directly on the magazines was a natural outgrowth of the artist’s interest in collage and her earlier paintings incorporated maps, sheet music and children’s drawings.
Cindy Kane is a prolific artist whose work has shown from California to NY and is included in numerous private and corporate collections across the country. Her artwork reflects the broad range of her interests from her children’s innocent fantasy worlds to the serious issues in the news like the devastating wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The power in her work lies in her ability to combine these worlds by delivering up their clashing content and opposing messages into a visually cohesive universe, weaving these human complexities into one idea. One is equally disturbed and comforted at the same time.
Kane’s 2009 installation work, “The Helmet Project” incorporates written artifacts from contemporary journalists’ coverage of the news, into her painted sculptures of soldiers’ helmets hanging in the round from the ceiling. She paid tribute to dozens of foreign correspondents that she admired by inviting them to contribute their actual notes, airline tickets, and other written evidence of their news coverage, for her 50 helmet collages. The names of her collaborators are familiar: Jacki Lyden, Scott Simon, Neal Conan, Geraldine Brooks, Charlayne Hunter- Gault, Dana Priest, Martha Raddatz among others.
Cindy Kane’s magazine cover paintings continue her artistic dialogue with journalists and grounds her sophisticated painting in the germane contemporary issues covered. “My work reflects my sense of balance or instability as I observe the political and environmental tumult of our times. I am fascinated by migration patterns and the forces of nature, and I try to incorporate these issues into my paintings” – says the artist.
Kane magazines are the only monthly publications worthy of saving and have an eternal shelf life.
Tamara Laird - January 2011
January 21st - March 1st, 2011
For our first exhibition of the year 2011, Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present “Paisley Monuments”, the monumental new ceramic sculpture by D.C. artist, Tamara Laird. An accomplished professional artist, RISD grad, and ceramics professor at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Laird draws on her extensive world travels to inform her art.
While still a young ceramic student, she traveled to England to meet the world famous Bernard Leach and other British ceramists. Then in 1982, while visiting Zaire, Laird developed a number of illustrated training guides for use by the Peace Corps. In 1984 she moved to Nairobi, Kenya, where she worked at the National Museums of Kenya on a project funded by the United Nations and she also taught art at the Kenyatta University. Her next destination was Bangkok, Thailand with her family, where she carried out extensive research in local ceramics including individual artists, traditional village production, and full-scale industrial ceramics factories. She was invited to participate in an educational tour for traditional northeastern Thai ceramics, sponsored by the Thai government. She has also traveled to Mexico where she participated in a tour of ceramic factories that integrate traditional and contemporary industrial majolica production. Majolica was her focus when in Deruta Italy at the Grazia Majolica Artistiche Artigianali factory, as well. It is not surprising that she currently teaches majolica techniques for a annual summer study abroad program in Amalfi Italy.
Laird is interested in finding the connection between local culture and artistic development. Her current work is based on the paisley motif, a universally recognizable pattern that has been used for thousands of years. The form makes reference to botanical imagery, water, fruit, and fecundity. Usually applied to textiles, the shape is transformed into an elegant yet whimsical and expressive three-dimensional form in Laird’s hands - resembling a plant shoot. Last year her work was included in the show “Flora: Growing Inspirations” at the U.S. Botanical Gardens where they were placed outdoors in the Conservatory Terrace at the foot of the Capitol. The artist makes the sculptures in high-fire stoneware with various glazed surfaces from flat black to reflective metallic lusters demonstrating the material possibilities inherent in clay, a material essential to human development as she discovered first hand all over the world. “I have paired this essential element with a universal symbol to create a monument to ornament”, says Laird.
Kathy Erteman - September 2010
In his catalogue essay on Kathy Erteman’s Kean University exhibition, John Perreault states “Certain tendencies can be discerned throughout the world of contemporary ceramics; humor, super-decorativeness, and now mixed-media clay come immediately to mind.” He then goes on to answer his own questions; “But where is elegance? Where is restraint? These unjustly neglected qualities are embodied in the subtle, steadfast work of Kathy Erteman, in which restraint has a strength all its own.”
We are pleased to present a show of Erteman’s powerful ceramic work this fall that will include large installations of 3D architectural wall tiles, paper and clay monoprints, and columnar and horizontal vessels. In all her work there is an apparent simplicity - uncomplicated forms and reduced use of color - ultimately the work reveals it is full of subtle complexities. Erteman’s vessel forms have been honed to minimalist perfection. She achieves her elegance with surface textures and physical contrasts, smooth glazes and tactile sensuality – one can’t help but touch the rims of her vessels. The wall pieces, though composed of ceramic tile elements, echo the grids in the paintings of Sol LeWitt and Agnes Martin.
Kathy Erteman has been a practicing ceramic artist and designer for 30 years. After receiving her BFA from California State University at Long Beach, she worked with the artist Judy Chicago on her ground breaking feminist work The Dinner Party. Comfortable straddling both the functional and fine art worlds, Erteman’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution, Los Angeles County Museum and Taipei Museum of Fine Arts and she has designed for companies such as Tiffany’s, Crate and Barrel and Dansk. She teaches at the famed Greenwich House Pottery in NYC and has worked with the group Aid to Artisans in Tibet. Recently she returned from a State Department sponsored trip to China where she collaborated on new designs with Chinese artisans.
Having been a long time fan of her work and having appreciated her earlier more patterned ceramics, following her development over her career it is like watching snow cover a garden in a way. You can no longer see details in the surface, but the stark picture is striking, the forms are simple, pure and absolutely - elegant.
Elizabeth Kendall "Button Boxes" - June 2010
June 18-September 14, 2010
The evolution of Kendall’s dynamic and original clay wall pieces is interesting. She calls the series, “Button Boxes” and they look like dozens of oversized black and white buttons bursting out of their container and showering to the floor. Their inspiration comes from time spent with her grandmother learning how to sew. Young Kendall was mesmerized by the myriad of buttons collected over time with their various colors and designs piled in the sewing box. Her grandmother instructed Kendall in the techniques of the seamstress; attention to the cloth’s delicate edges, altering shapes with stitching, basting and appliqué, employing layering and texture of the fabrics and the importance of the fine details of the decorative fasteners. When translated to clay, these approaches are all evident in her art. Kendall’s first fabric-inspired pieces were her functional cups that she hand-built with thin porcelain slabs exposing the seams and making the clay imitate the soft quality of cloth, mimicking the folds and sags of the material. She then began creating cups without bottoms as an element for sculptural installations. In her last exhibition at cross mackenzie, Kendall filled the window with hundreds of these empty cup units, stacked to the ceiling to create a lace like see-through screen, quite fittingly a new kind of window dressing. Her small groupings of bottomless cups made into wall pieces will be on view.
The ‘button box series” explodes the button-like disks out into the space. They protrude from the wall on steel rods, pushing into the room and creating a sense of a three dimensional black and white digital image, the dots act like physical pixels. The gallery will have the feeling of an inverted pincushion with steel rods spiking into our space from both sides of the room.
Elizabeth Kendall is a graduate of Smith College and studied pottery at Penland, Hood College and Arrowmont with residencies at Watershed, the MacNamara Foundation and Guldagergaard, Denmark. In addition to her studio work in ceramics, she is also a contributing writer and art critic for ceramic publications such as Clay Times, Ceramics Monthly, Studio Potter, and Pottery Making Illustrated. An award winning and active clay artist, she has participated in numerous juried craft shows, exhibitions and invitationals including the recent NCECA conference in Philadelphia. She teaches workshops and demonstrations and serves on the board for Cub Creek, VA. and is vice president of the board of the prestigious Watershed organization in Maine.
Andrea Luria "Big Birds" - April 2010
April 16th - June 16th, 2010
This spring Cross Mackenzie Gallery is pleased to present the large-scale paintings of California artist, Andrea Luria. Widely shown on the west coast, this will be Luria’s first show in the DC area and a special opportunity for Washingtonians to view her work.
Andrea Luria loves portraits, and this passion is the inspiration for her bold, full-length bird paintings. Similar in scale and ambition to the standing full figure portraits of classical portrait painters, these canvases portray wading birds in all their finery and surprising personality. Unlike her human subjects, Luria’s water birds don’t talk back or complain over an unflattering brush stroke or critical observation - the artist now prefers them as subjects. It is not a limitation in terms of expressing human emotion, the birds exude an array of attitudes from their facial expressions, raised eyebrows and cocked heads. Luria paints cranky pelicans, shy storks, and self-satisfied, preening spoonbills - all the while with an Audubon-like accuracy of natural observation. These beautiful six-foot canvases with their striking colors against dark backgrounds are dynamic and graphic in their contrasts. Their unexpected emotional power imbues them with a palpable but understated sense of humor. Those who share Luria’s feelings for our American waterfowl will appreciate these masterful works. Perhaps this artist’s big birds represent another voice in the chain of dependents on clean water.
Luria will also exhibit a collection of her miniature chicken head close-ups that she paints on small wood panels. Growing out of her Madonna series of portraits, the variety of feathers and chicken faces reveal Luria’s interest in the endless variations of nature’s creatures and she celebrates their individuality in these portraits. Andrea Luria’s affection for her subject is clearly represented here and her birds are more than larger than life.
Andrea Luria-Big Birds Series
John Brown "The Vine Series" - March 2010
March 19th - April 2010
Cross Mackenzie Gallery is pleased to present “The Vine Series”, a solo exhibition by Washington born photographer John Brown, opening in March to coincide with the onset of spring.
This exquisite series of photographs of wisteria vines hover between realism and abstraction. The photographs look like calligraphy - their fluid dark lines gesturing across the page with all the lyrical quality of a Japanese ink drawing on rice paper. At the same time, the black silhouettes of the branches have the dynamic abstract power of a Franz Kline canvas. Returning to an arbor of vines in Southern California, the artist documented the branches throughout the seasons - with their first annual buds, in complete leaf midsummer, changing fall colors and in their most graphic state, their stark winter nakedness.
“I captured different sections of the branches – using my traditional, single frame approach; but later, in my studio, I realized it was possible to recreate the elaborate latticework of the vine structures,” says Brown.
Thus, the artist intentionally assembles the individual photographs with space between them to recall the architectural framework and to underscore the visual movement. The interlocking vines seem to dance from frame to frame - the chaos of nature’s swirling tendrils tamed by the geometric grid. Though each frame holds up as its own individual photograph, the photo-assemblages unite to create a powerful and beautiful artwork. Brown continues his exploration of natural forms with this series, focusing on accentuating details and abstracting their forms. The gallery will also show a collection of his black and white flower photographs for which he has become well known in Washington. His prints are as rich in tone as a Weston or an Adams.
John Brown’s master’s degree in art history from Boston University was the groundwork for his study of photography at the Corcoran School of Art. He has received grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts and has been included in numerous solo and group shows here and abroad, notably “Reflections in Black, a History of Black Photographers at the Smithsonian’s Art and Industry Gallery. This will be Brown’s first show with Cross MacKenzie Gallery.
John Brown-Vine Series
"Snow White" Group Show - January 2010
January 15th - March 5th, 2010
“SNOW WHITE” The absence of color in the ceramics of Christa Assad, Charles Birnbaum, Jean-Marie Grenier, Jeff Irwin, and Maren Kloppmann,
This winter we are pleased to present an exhibition of white ceramic sculpture by five exceptional artists whose work is defined by their absence of color. United by their use of a pure, snow-white clay body, these artists create unique expressions with different techniques and subjects. The plasticity of clay and its power to assume any shape and mimic any material is demonstrated in this collection. Whiteness reflects and delicately modulates the light, sometimes having the luminosity of marble or the transparency of fabric. In each sculpture, the monochromatic limitation is applied to dramatic effect.
Charles Birnbaum’s elaborate, baroque work is aptly described as “an orgy of form” by art historian Suzanne Ramljak. His abstract organic sculptures reference all manner of sea creatures, corals and carnivorous plants that threaten to continue growing off the gallery walls. These porcelain pieces contradict the concept of ’less is more’ with their extravagant, intricately carved surfaces and subtle shadows. White is used as a unifying palette.
Contrast these expressions of abundance with Maren Kloppmann’s quiet, stacked pillow piece that uses the white clay body’s sensory deprivation, to beckon the peaceful escape of sleep and its promise of relief. In another color, those pillows might signify some erotic experience or exotic locale, but in white, one imagines the innocence and deep sleep of childhood. Stacked like mattresses searching for more and more comfort, the pillows float like clouds above that symbolic pea of unrest. The spacing and scale of Kloppmann’s stacked pillows pays homage to Donald Judd’s boxes whose pure geometry delivers a similar calm. Kloppmann’s use of pure white underscores the minimalist reference and delivers us tranquility.
Jeff Irwin creates enigmatic white creatures that exist in a surreal space between men’s hunting trophies and trees headed for the woodsmen’s chainsaw. These sculptures ask questions: Why don’t we value the whole living creature? Why does an animal head proffer prestige when stuffed and hung on the wall? Why is a carved piece of wood indoors valued more than it is in the forest? By making his enigmatic creatures in ghostly white, they take on an abstract quality, ethereal and otherworldly, yet at the same time, they recall traditional marble sculpture. Ragged edges from the saw blade and wooden knots are left un-smoothed on the clay surface. Irwin delights in the clashes of imagery and materials within his menagerie of stuffed imaginary trophies.
Jean-Marie Grenier’s swirling helix forms in white appear to be the expression of dance movements made physical. They carve and energize the space.
The pristine white geometric ceramics of Christa Assad use the lack of color in the clay body to highlight their clean architectural outlines. Assad’s functional vessels act like miniature buildings with perfectly modeled brick facades wrapped around their pure forms and whose waterspouts resemble chimneystacks.
At this time of year when so much of the world is blanketed by snowfall, the sculptures in this exhibition celebrate the quiet beauty of snow white and capture its simple, pure power.
Sarah Lindley "Poppenhuizen" - December 2009
December 2009 - January 14th, 2010
We are pleased to announce our gallery’s presentation of this extraordinary exhibition of Sarah Lindley’s ceramic sculptures based on 17th and 18th Century Dutch Cabinet Houses. A genre of Dutch furniture, poppenhuizen were exquisite, miniature houses appointed with all the comforts and luxuries of the Amsterdam homes they reproduced in every tiny detail. Lindley’s half-scale, skeletal renditions express her interest in the cabinets’ architectural structures, as well as their careful proportions and design flourishes. Though ostensibly a doll’s house, Petronella Oortman’s poppenhuis cost 30,000 guilders in 1670, almost enough to purchase a real house at that time; thus these follies were clearly not child’s play. Likewise, Lindley’s sculptures transcend their role as beautiful decorative objects, painting an imaginary, yet informative picture of the elite interiors of this period of material and artistic abundanc