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September 1 – 30, 2016 “XXX: THREE WOMEN IN ABSTRACT”

Event Details

  • From: September 1, 2016
  • To: September 30, 2016
  • Starting at: 06:00 PM
  • Finishing at: 08:30 PM

Address

  • FREDERICK HOLMES AND COMPANY - GALLERY OF MODERN & CONTEMPORARY ART
  • 309 Occidental Avenue South, Seattle
  • WA
  • 98104
  • United States
  • 206-682-0166

The recent, albeit overdue exhibition, WOMEN OF ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM, at the Denver art Museum (DAM), celebrates the often unknown female artists of this mid-twentieth century art movement, including Mary Abbott, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, Elaine deKooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, and one of my personal favorites, Jay DeFeo.

While Abstract Expressionism was widely considered America’s first “home-grown” art movement, it was at the exclusion of any critical recognition, and often gallery representation, of the women painters of the time. Sexism was the predominant social norm and they were usually excluded from gallery shows exhibiting their male counterparts. These exceptionally talented women, were frequently dismissed as incapable of creating strong, evocative work by critics, gallery owners, museum curators, and the collecting public.

Apparently, the “X” chromosome was a disability rendering the woman painter incapable of creating anything worthy of being exhibited, discussed, or collected…

In writing of this period, DAM Curator, Gwen Chanzit, comments on the sexist mythology that became entrenched in the minds of critics, galleries, and collectors, “…but the movement always characterized as male-dominated…as macho. It’s a movement that has been all about the heroic “paint-spattered man”. Further illustrating her point, Chanzit states, “…it’s good to remember that art historians have also discriminated. The standard, HISTORY OF ART, by Horst Janson, the tome used in university art history surveys for so many years, didn’t include female artists until the mid-1980’s.”

Nationally and internationally recognized women artists working today, while still not enjoying the market parity of their more prominent male counterparts, have nonetheless been critically praised, widely collected, and among the more notable, are enjoying increasing values of their work. There’s still a long way to go for serious women abstract painters though; even the term, “woman painter”, is itself an anachronism in an age when gender seems insignificant to one’s ability or success. They are artists – Painters – First and Last…

This exhibition profiles three of the gallery’s mature contemporary painters, each of whom, in taking up the mantle of those long ignored female painters who came before them, have evolved beyond the historic canon of abstraction and developed their own uniquely personal visual language. But the foundation upon which each has built their careers is due in no small part to the groundbreaking generations before them, as well as the decades of training, practice, and experience, each of these three painters brings to their work.

One of my favorite quotes about the importance of a strong foundation of training and experience came from Abstract Surrealist, Joan Miro (1893-1983), who was fond of saying, “We Catalans believe that you must plant your feet firmly on the ground if you want to be able to jump high in the air.”

XXX: THREE WOMEN IN ABSTRACT features artists, JANE BURTON of San Francisco; HELOISA POMFRET of Sao Paulo, Brazil and Detroit; and ELISE WAGNER of Portland, OR. Each working within their highly trained and distinctive styles, contribute a narrative that explores the evolution of contemporary abstract painting.
BURTON, who studied under WAYNE THIEBAUD at UC Davis, works in a gestural but highly disciplined style, layering color and finishes, inspired by both urban and natural environments. While her career has been predominantly in sculpture, she’s returned to her original chosen material in the last year and is intent on pushing the boundaries of the medium and through constant experimentation, herself as the artist.
POMFRET, exhibited internationally in Europe, No. America, and So. America, explores the inner human consciousness through work on canvas and paper, comprised of vaguely biomorphic or organic objects and multiple layers of color that are then meticulously scratched, revealing hidden layers and evoking a compelling, enigmatic, psychological connection with the viewer.
WAGNER, a recent recipient of the internationally coveted Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and a nationally renowned painter in encaustic, draws inspiration from her deep interest in Science. These paintings, drawn from a “rational discipline” yet expressed in the “irrational discipline” of abstract, are inspired by Meteorology, Cosmology, Astro Physics, Particle Physics, Cartography, Stellar Cartography, and all points in between.

XXX: THREE WOMEN IN ABSTRACT Opens August 1, 2016 (First Thursday Art Walk) With Artist Reception 6:00-8:30.