Green and blue and longing for Spring

I ran around Old City last weekend and found Spring on the walls, except at Temple Gallery’s “Analog Click Click” where it felt like deepest, darkest, chilly, grisaille cyber-winter. (Read Libby’s post for more.)


Meanwhile I was dreaming of duck ponds and marshes, algae and sand between my toes all triggered by the green and blue emanating from Becker, Artjaz and Rosenfeld Galleries.

At Becker, David Goerk’s small, sculpted paintings welcome you with open arms and colors, textures and themes. The works, made of paint and encaustic over wood constructions have a “handyman special” feel to them. They wear their lumpy edges with pride. With cheery colors and shapes that refer to the real world (“skate” looks just like a skateboard deck) they are a tribe of sweet things you want to scoop up and play with (or take home). I loved best the green circle of delight (“Green Field II” pictured) which said pond scum to me but hey, I like ponds.


Two doors down at Artjaz, Richard Watson’s solo show works two themes, one political, one not. Watson’s oil paintings, imagined landscapes of North Carolina, (pictured in the octagonal frame) imply a romantic view of the south by an African American painter who grew up there but moved away as a child.


I remember seeing some of these paintings in a group show on romanticism at the African American Museum in Philadelphia a few years back. My take then was that the work must be read as personal not political commentary and that the artists, including Watson, were exploring their ties to land and family. It may seem radical for an African American artist to explore the past through a rosy lens but I bought it. The works are full of love.

Meanwhile, Watson has also painted a kind of romanticized view Philadelphia with slightly more edge. This untitled landscape (pictured above)has the same romantic cast as the North Carolina works, but, unlike in North Carolina, North Philadelphia’s ambiance includes a prominent pile of trash in the foreground. Ah, Philadelphia.


And in the same exhibit, the artist has fashioned a group of collage works, (like the one pictured left showing his mother, father, himself and his brother), that dip into the personal but also include themes of spiritual uplift and racial empowerment. I find the aesthetic in the collages compelling. Watson uses paint to connect passages of collaged imagery and his jam-packed universes combine just the right amount of obsession and theme.


Meanwhile, at Rosenfeld, the acrylic paintings of Philadelphians Hollis Heichemer and Elsa Johnson Tarrantal make a swell pairing. Heichemer’s juicy acrylic paintings are microcosms of aquatic loveliness — yet the paintings are macro in size. (blue work above by Heichemer)


Tarrantal’s acrylic landscape paintings, with their big skies and sweep of shore, are macro in subject — but they’re micro in size. (image below is by Tarrantal)


This pairing gives you a good look at the range of technique available in the polymer medium. Heichemer’s loose calligraphy and thick, shiny build-ups imply oil paint. (image below is detail from another Heichemer work)



Interestingly, Tarrantal’s dry brush ( seen above in the foreground) imbues the landscape paintings with a nice level of abstraction.

Komar and Melamid in their research on America’s Most Wanted painting made us understand that blue was our favorite color, followed closely by green.

I just want to say…what’s wrong with that?