One of my goals at the beginning of 2019 was to see more art in person. As a suburban dweller, this can be difficult. There are always art books and the internet, but seeing art in person is so much more impactful. Here are 3 shows I saw in the past few months.
Matt Bollinger’s Three Rooms at Zurcher Gallery in N.Y.
I was absolutely elated to see this show. I’ve been following Bollinger on Instagram for over a year now and his work has been super inspiring for me. Bollinger’s work makes the ordinary magical, and I love that. Three Rooms is Bollinger’s newest stop-motion animated film that’s about a sci-fi writer, a botanist, their daughter, and a future where fungi have made the world uninhabitable by humans. The film is eerie and mysterious, with lots of wind and slowly opening doors. The ending leaves the viewer to interpret the two timelines and their connections. The paintings in the show are used to animate on throughout filming and then eventually finished or “frozen in time” for the final gallery show. My biggest shock when I got to Zurcher was the painting of the writer’s room (see first photo above). While watching the film, so much is going on in this room. There are notes on the wall, a box opens to reveal the sci-fi novel 4036, a laptop computer is typing. But the final painting looked still and quiet. It made me feel as if I was gazing into a familiar room, knowing what had happened within it, and seeing it still and empty at the end of the day. So much happened on this painting and then was painted over - and that’s brave as hell.
Rebekah Callaghan’s Brighter Later at Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia
Luckily, I caught this show on the last day. It was a somewhat random google search that lead me to finding this show, but I’m glad I did. I was really struck by the unique and very particular combination of colors for each painting. Each one felt like a mood or time of day. I also kept noticing the paint thickness and textures. Some of the paint was thinly spread on the canvas. This helped illuminate some of the colors and gave a warm feeling to each piece. Like a quilt, or stained glass. Really enjoyed this. I wonder if the title of the show had anything to do with Nick Drake’s “Bryter Layter”, a fav of mine. This show has definitely inspired me to keep trying to use color. More of Callaghan’s work can be found here.
Edwin Dickinson at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art recently acquired some Edwin Dickinson paintings, so I hopped over the bridge one morning to check them out. I was happily awaiting moody and subdued colors and strange compositions, but was surprised by seeing the actual paint. Some of the paint was very thin and with canvas showing through. Some of the color looked black, straight from the tube. I still have some “rules” about painting rattling in my head. Voices saying ‘don’t use black’ or ‘don’t show empty canvas’ were quieted. Dickinson’s almost monotone palette made me notice and appreciate the subtle colors that shone through - cold pinks and fleshy yellows. Next time you’re at the PMA in Philly, check these out!