When legendary art critic Clement Greenberg first championed Jackson Pollock, he advertised Abstract Expressionism as a movement that cut straight to the essence of painting. He argued that the spheres of art ought to boil down to their cores, that painting should diverge from sculpture by doing away with illusionism and embracing abstraction.
The five abstract painters in our “Harmony” show have rather (post-)postmodern views on the matter. Can abstract painting mix with sculpture, or even follow the melody of a musical composition? At Waxlander, the answer is “Certainly!”
Josiane Childers and Justin West are a husband and wife team who approach abstract painting from a decidedly cross-disciplinary angle. Josiane is a trained fine artist who works with acrylics on canvas, and Justin is a metalworker with a passion for automobiles. Their collaborative Plexiglass and steel “wall sculptures” hang somewhere between painting and sculpture. The painted panels have striking depth and texture that is enhanced by their shapes—they often push out from the wall and into the viewer’s space, making for ever-shifting optics.
Michael Ethridge has been an artist for his whole life, but he wasn’t always a painter. Michael is a trained classical pianist, and his first career was as a performer on cruise ships. When he took up painting full-time, everything he learned as a musician came with him.
“You know there are degrees of tone in music, and there is tone in paint as well. Music goes hand-in-hand with art,” Michael says. “Painting really is a voice, though, it’s just communicated through the brush.”
Paul Cunningham’s paintings splice delicate figures into abstract color worlds. The fish and birds that he paints on his large canvases take our eyes as traveling companions, guiding us through airy clouds and murky pools of color and across the stark lines that often divide Paul’s compositions.
Nancy Eckels is perhaps the most traditional abstract painter of the bunch, but her creative process is also tied to another medium. Nancy grew up in Los Angeles and worked in television production for many years before picking up a paintbrush. Perhaps that explains the striking visual punch of her vibrant canvases. Her works often start out smooth at the bottom but explode near the top into splintered textures that look like fantastical city skylines. It’s as though she’s directly challenging Greenburg’s idea of the essential “flatness” of painting.
Come experience these five incredible artists’ exciting twists on abstract painting in “Harmony,” open through October 15th, and meet them all at our reception this Friday, October 5th from 5-7 pm at Waxlander Gallery and Sculpture Garden.
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