Pennsylvania giving–a show of art at the State Museum of Pennsylvania

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Artist Kip Deeds saw the show, “The Fine Art of Giving: Gifts of Art to the State Museum of Pennsylvania 1998-2008,” in Harrisburg when he was delivering his own work for the Art of the State exhibit.  Here’s his review of the gifts’ show.  Photos by Deeds– who also has a blog, by the way.  Check it out here.

The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg is an all in one museum presenting the history, science, and the art of the “Keystone State”.  Portraits of famous Pennsylvanians like Joe Paterno and Marion Anderson can be found on the ground floor.   As one makes one’s way to the top of the museum one will find the art that represents PA.

Picture of Joe Paterno as a young man, from the State Museum of Pennsylvania.
Picture of Joe Paterno as a young man, from the State Museum of Pennsylvania.


Currently on view is the exhibit “The Fine Art of Giving: Gifts of Art to the State Museum of Pennsylvania 1998-2008”.  The exhibit has a long run and is currently on view in Harrisburg thru June 30, 2010. Although this exhibit favors painting, it presents a compelling survey of art connected to Pennsylvania.   There was a noticeable lack of new media work and I am not sure if Pennsylvanians have a bias against new media work or whether new media work was simply overlooked. There is no video work and few photographic works in the exhibit.   Of the photographs, Sol Mednick’s work (circa late 1960’s) is a highlight.  Mednick addresses formalists concerns, through photography, using dramatic contrasts.

 

Sol Mednick's photos
Sol Mednick's photos

There are a fair number of prints in the exhibit.  I particularly enjoyed Jerome Kaplan’s confessional image “Love For the Metal Plate” (1949). The image, ironically a lithograph, humorously depicts many cracked lithographic stones as well as what appears to be the printer (presumably Kaplan) clutching what I assume are metal plates that will never break.

Jerome Kaplan’s Print
Jerome Kaplan’s Print

Several abstract paintings are represented including two intimate watercolors by Robert Keyser.   Keyser had a long career in Philadelphia and in my opinion a museum survey of his work is over due.  Below is a detail of Keyser’s work “Found Archaeology” (1997).  Other works with abstract concerns include a diptych by Philip Lindsey titled “Seam” (1999).  This piece called to my mind a combination of Agnes Martin and Sean Scully.

Detail of Robert Keyser’s Watercolor
Detail of Robert Keyser’s Watercolor

My favorite of the landscape paintings in the exhibit is Martha Nichols oil painting “Days of Summer” (1999).  Nichols uses garish colors that are slurred together creating a dramatic and sticky feeling pasture against a pink sky.

Martha Nichol’s Painting
Martha Nichol’s Painting

There is no shortage of strong paintings in this exhibit.   Mitzi Melnicoff painting “In the Studio” (1970-71) manages to adeptly merge skilled draftsmanship with the use of simplified fields of contrasting colors that call to mind Matisse as well as the figurative work of Richard Deibenkorn.

Mitzi Melnicoff’s Painting
Mitzi Melnicoff’s Painting

Allen M. Capriotti ‘s painting  “Confrontation”  (2004) creates an allegory on multiple levels between old and new.  Capriotti’s work borrows from 17th century Dutch still life painting and reminds me of the obsessive and dramatic realism of Ivan Albright. 

Allen M. Capriotti’s Painting
Allen M. Capriotti’s Painting

Rounding out the exhibit are several larger sculptural works including the witty “FACT-ORY” (2004) by William Cravis, which presents containers that presumably dispense history.

William Cravis’ Sculpture
William Cravis’ Sculpture
Tags

allen m. capriotti, jerome kaplan, martha nichol, mitzi melnicoff, robert keyser, sol mednick, state museum of pennsylvania, william cravis

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