Dolores Poacelli: 315 works, 4 shows, 1 artist

Kitty Caparella highlights Dolores Poacelli, a local artist whose abstract works are inspired by the relationships between color, shape, and texture. -- Artblog editor

Dolores Poacelli is one prolific artist—with a sense of humor.

Just how prolific?

Poacelli is showing her abstract work—large graphic aluminum-based paintings, small acrylic paintings, colorful prints and collages, an art book, clay sculpture, mixed media—in four, yes, FOUR exhibits right now. That’s a total of 315 works of art, mostly created in the past two years, being shown in two exhibits in Philadelphia, and one each in Newtown, Bucks County and in Collingswood NJ.


“I’m a maniac,” admits the petite brown-haired workaholic, laughing at her output. “I once did 300 collage prints while working out larger issues.”

split personality dolores poacelli collage painting
“Split Personality,” Dolores Poacelli. 6 cubes 4″x4″ acrylic and collage on wood blocks

In fact, Bahdeebahdu co-owners RJ Thornburg and Warren Muller sent a tractor-trailer to her South Philadelphia studio to pick up 276 art works for her show, which runs through Jan. 4 at the monumental-size interior design center, art gallery, and workshop at 1522 N. American St.

Poacelli’s solo exhibit on American Street includes 33 paintings, framed prints, mixed media, sculptures and a gatefold book, plus 243 unframed collages: a total of 276 artworks.


One man’s trash is another artist’s treasure

Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen dolores poacelli painting
“Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen,” Dolores Poacelli. 60″ x 72″ acrylic and aluminum on 5 pine panels

Citing her “synthesis of color, texture, and shape,” Bahdeebahdu owners say “Poacelli’s work is an exploration in dimension that stimulates perception in wholly marvelous ways.”

Poacelli, a graphic design artist, says she couldn’t have asked for a better venue for her images.

The way Thornburg directed the gallery lights enhances the movement of her aluminum squiggles, which swirl as in a maelstrom in “Herd Mentality”. Her works also benefit from the reflected light of Muller’s huge chandeliers of car parts, dishes, colorful glass, and other treasures hanging from the ceiling.


“The light is magical,” she said, during her Nov. 12 opening. “I’m thrilled to be here.”

Poacelli and Muller are kindred spirits. They make beautiful artwork from the detritus of others.

Herd Mentality dolores poacelli mixed media
“Herd Mentality,” Dolores Poacelli. 60″ x 36″, recycled aluminum press plates on wood

Her large paintings are made from discarded aluminum printing plates from a New Jersey print shop, where her husband once worked. She sands the aluminum down, cuts it in abstract shapes—using her late uncle’s barber shears, which she rescued from the trash — and then covers wooden panels with aluminum shapes or strips, and then paints them—or not.

In her most vivid work, a 55-inch-by-70-inch piece called “Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen,” Poacelli painted brightly colored vertical stripes overlaid with clumps of similarly hued ovals, or half-ovals, which appear to fall from the upper left to the lower right of the work.

In hanging the work, Thornburg added another dimension, by spacing the five panels apart by the exact width of a stripe, giving the work a larger, in-depth appearance, until the viewer realizes the dark brownish-charcoal stripe is actually the wall. Other aluminum works are accented with blue or black emphasizing transitions, and an occasional red.

Tip: Read the titles second

Her satiric titles, such as “Edifice Complex,” are as important as the artwork, showing her abundant sense of humor. But the works themselves are serious statements of graphic design.

FaceBook dolores poacelli painting
“FaceBook,” Dolores Poacelli. 8″ x 5″ gatefold book, 10 pages

On the 12 sides of an accordion art book are partial shapes of facial expressions in silver or printed gray words on white paper, with lips of red, black, or silver. You can pick the book up and turn it around to capture each facial expression. And when you put it down, glance at its title: “Facebook”.

“I want someone to come to (my work) as a visual experience, then you look down and see the title and start to laugh,” she said.

U-Tube dolores poacelli painting
“U-Tube,” Dolores Poacelli. 30″ x 24″ acrylic paint on rusted panel

So too, with a rusted-looking painting adorned with white U-shapes. The name of the 30-inch by 20-inch work: “U-Tube”.

Population Explosion dolores poacelli ceramic mixed media
“Population Explosion,” Dolores Poacelli. 36″ x 24″ clay and nails on wood

A display of small and smaller fat fingers of hardened clay, sides pressed together, sits on a 36-inch by 24-inch wood panel. Its title: “Population Explosion”.

Secret love for figure drawing

croquis_7 dolores poacelli drawing
“Croqoui #7,” Dolores Poacelli. 18″ x 24″, graphite and oilstick on paper

And yet, this abstract artist, whose work is characterized by repetition, layering, bright colors, found materials, and humorous titles, has a secret affinity for croquis, quick sketches of the human figure, as evidenced in a few paintings in her Fragmentia series, and a classical figure in oil stick and graphite, “Croqui #7,” hanging in Bahdeebahdu’s bathroom.

Where else you can see her work

Blue Loops dolores poacelli painting
“Blue Loops,” Dolores Poacelli. 16″ x 20″ acrylic & oilstick on paper

Only a block away, Poacelli has a small oil pastel on paper, titled “Blue Loops,” in the “Old Enough to Know Better” exhibit through Nov. 28, sponsored by The Women’s Caucus for the Arts,” at the Crane Building at 1400 N. American St. The show, by the way, is a terrific exhibit by area women artists.

emily brett lukens big blue
Emily Brett Lukens, “Big Blue”

At George School, Poacelli and Emily Brett Lukens, who have studios in the same Italian Market building on Carpenter Street, are featured in a two-woman show, Double Take, through Dec. 17. Poacelli contributed 23 artworks, including “Split Personality” on painted cubes. The two women will also give an art lecture for the 80-plus students at the private Quaker high school in Newtown, Bucks County.

monoprint 202 dolores poacelli print
“Monoprint #202,” Dolores Poacelli. 14″ x 17″ acrylic and collage on paper

And at the Collingswood Gallery of the Perkins Center for the Arts, Poacelli is showing 15 mixed media artworks, including “Monoprint #202,” in sizes up to 8 by 10 inches, as one of 24 artists in the Small Works show, through Dec. 13 in Collingswood, NJ.

Perkins curator Alan Willoughby says about Poacelli, who teaches a class in mixed media at the art center: “I love her work. She has a great sense of color, layering, space and vibrancy. She is constantly producing, and people are not tired of looking” at her art.