Rethinking landscapes–Carrie Dickason and Mike Hein at Grizzly Grizzly

One of the many excellent shows I saw First Friday was at Grizzly Grizzly, the little gallery that could. A surprising pairing of artists, Carrie Dickason and Mike Hein, impressed with the two artists’ engagement with materials and ideas.

Carrie Dickason, samples of her paint-flaky maps.

Dickason, MFA Cranbrook in fiber, lives in Maine, and her work evinces a love of the land, mapiness and topography through such non-standard materials as mylar tape and peeled acrylic paint. She’s a maximalist whose resulting work carries a gravitas supported by the intense, obsessive layering and nearly psychedelic, playful colors.

Carrie Dickason in front of her undulating op piece made with bits of mylar tape.

An undulating op drawing made with bits of mylar tape hangs on the wall like a piece of cloth. A curled edge reveals that the the back is painted a day-glo hot pink that reflects on the wall. Collaged water-media drawings of flowers are miniature Marimekkos that pop off the wall to suggest nature’s profusion. And peeled paint landscapes at once bring to mind peeling paint on old wood and the rich varied textures of land, rocks and vegetation. Wow!

Mike Hein’s cowboy hat is hung on a wooden hat hook he also made. The layered paint-and-heat process creates a romantic landscape of arroyos in sunset colors on the wooden surface.

Mike Hein, MFA Syracuse, who lives and works in Brooklyn, creates Pop abstracted versions of real-world objects–like hunks of weathered wood made of plastic, or a cowboy hat of painted wood.  The objects, completely divorced from their normal context, are reinvented symbols of romantic ideas about the landscape and people.

Mike Hein’s white plastic slab of “wood” is a mappy land mass into which a defiling soda can is stuck. The back is orange.

Like Dickason, he backs some of his pieces with unnatural colors that reflect on the gallery wall. The resulting aura of these translucent plastic sticks and the topographical paint finish on a rectangular cowboy hat suggest a landscape, but unlike Dickason, this one is the Wild West–a heroic place that captures the American imagination and that exists only in movies. Not that everything is hunky dory in a land with literal cans littering–a suggestion that reality is spoiling the dream.

Both artists have shown around the country.


This is the next generation of landscape artist reinventing the genre. They have squeezed big ideas and vast spaces into perhaps the smallest gallery in Philadelphia.