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Rocks in Soft Places at Hooloon Art


[Joshua visits a show contrasting the nonobjective work of two artists, which harmonizes surprisingly well in a small gallery space. — the Artblog editors]

Michael Lieberman’s new gallery, Hooloon, at 53 North 2nd Street, is a bright and intimate space. Measuring just 16 feet across, the space forces the viewer to fully engage with the works installed on both walls. The current exhibition, Rocks in Soft Places, features the artwork of James Inscho and Tiffany Livingston.

The two artists seemingly approach art in completely opposite ways. While Inscho emphasizes strong lines and the beauty of symmetry, Livingston’s paintings possess a nebulous depth and texture that opposes Inscho’s symmetry.

Colorful contrasts

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James Inscho, “Field,” oil on canvas, 2013. Photo courtesy of Hooloon Gallery.

Yet the work of the two artists, mixed together on the walls, possesses movement and energy that unites the oeuvres of the two artists. They both play with shifting space and perspective to focus on memory and perception. In Inscho’s paintings, strong lines and a fast receding perspective pull the viewer’s eyes deeper into the swaths of color. Similarly, Livingston’s billows of color allow the viewer to get lost in the countless hues that she incorporates into her paintings.

Both artists emphasize a painterly process in their works, and huge blocks of color confront the eye throughout Rocks in Soft Places. Despite color’s implied simplicity, the works flirt with the nonsensical through the variety of color blocks in Inscho’s work and in the ephemeral clouds of color in Livingston’s. They possess a quality that is familiar, yet unnameable.

Tiffany Livingston, “Sail to the Moon,” oil on canvas, 71″ x 94″, 2013. Photo courtesy of Hooloon Gallery.

Perhaps the most striking painting is Livingston’s “Sail to the Moon” (2013), which is by far the largest in the gallery, measuring 71” x 94”. Lieberman disclosed that this is the piece that passersby are most attracted to. It pulls people in from the street. The painting is cloudlike in character, with countless colors. I attempted to count the variety of blues, purples, yellows, and oranges used, but my attempts proved fruitless.

Because of its sheer size, the painting’s use of color places the exhibition’s smaller pieces in context. The gallery’s intimate size makes it almost impossible to look at a single painting at one time–so color from a near-hanging piece is constantly present in the corner of one’s eye, highlighting the colors of another painting.


About the gallery and artists

I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Lieberman and discuss his gallery and his current exhibition. His story of becoming a gallerist is perhaps just as fascinating as the artwork that he exhibits. After spending 10 years as a child therapist, he decided to attend law school, after which he became a corporate lawyer. Another 10 years later, he found himself unhappy. In September of 2013, he quit his job as a lawyer; and in October of that same year, he opened Hooloon.

Inscho was born in Dothan, Alabama in 1984, and currently lives and works in Philadelphia. He received his MFA from the Tyler School of Art in 2013. He has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Corpus Christi, Memphis, and Philadelphia.

Tiffany Livingston was born in Los Angeles in 1988, and is also currently living and working in Philadelphia. She will receive her MFA from Tyler School of art in the coming weeks. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

Rocks in Soft Places will be open through May 18. It will be followed by an exhibition featuring the work of Tom Bolles and Matthew G. Craig, opening May 21st.  

Joshua Bell is a graduating senior at Saint Joseph’s University. He will graduate with a degree in English literature, with minors in art history and French. In the fall, he will attend the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU to obtain his master’s degree in art history. He focuses on modern and contemporary art.