Barbara Mink’s spontaneous Color Riot at Jed Williams Gallery

Karen previews the show, Color Riot, at Jed Williams Gallery (opening July 7), where painter Barbara Mink melds translucent, flowing color with sculptural texture in her paintings–a reward for the eye.

The linoleum floors of Barbara Mink’s studio, on the third floor attic of her 19th century Victorian home in Ithaca, NY, are covered in drips and swatches of acrylic paint in rich, saturated colors. Since Mink paints several abstract canvases directly on the floor, at times the edges of her works almost blend with the accumulated layers of excess paint on the linoleum tiles, mimicking the freedom and spontaneity of accidental paint applications. It is a selection of these large and small works that will unleash an eruption of color at Jed Williams Gallery at a solo show this July, echoing the vibrant burst of 4th of July fireworks across Philadelphia’s skies.

Spontaneous color meets intentional process

Image courtesy of Barbara Mink
Color Riot, 48×48, ink and marker on canvas. Image courtesy of Barbara Mink.

Aptly titled Color Riot, the canvases participating in the month-long exhibition are characterized by vivid colors, fluidity, texture, and energetic lines. The show is named after one of Mink’s square paintings, which combines spontaneous bursts of brightly colored ink with clusters of intentional, straight lines that fan out across the canvas.


“I like Barbara’s work because she has a highly personal touch and a really developed talent,” explains gallerist Jed Williams, who invited Mink to exhibit at his gallery this summer following her participation in a group show there, Celebration of Color, in March 2016. “There’s a kind of spontaneity and balance of composition in her work.”

“One thing I really like about her work is that she mixes sculptural elements with flat elements,” Williams continues. “There’s a painting called ‘Box of Crayons’, it’s very hard to tell whether there’s some kind of collage element, and there’s broken up paint, but it has a very, sort of, landscapey feel. Or [like] maps, that are disintegrating. It’s very organic and alive.”

Fluid hues, sculptural surface

Image courtesy of Barbara Mink
Image courtesy of Barbara Mink.

Mink achieves these sculptural effects with hand-made translucent acrylic skins, applied to painted canvases. She makes the skins out of thin layers of liquid polymer medium, which she pours onto the floor, stirring in inks or paints. Once dried, the colorful layers can be applied to a canvas in either long sheets or broken up, to create patterns.


The daughter of an artist, Mink grew up in a home in Buffalo, NY, that was filled with her father’s abstract paintings. Despite being surrounded by art from a young age, she says that she started painting relatively late and “went through as many styles, subjects, and media as I could, before coming happily to rest in a world of the spare, the muted, and the geometric.”

She began with watercolor botanical illustrations, then moved on to representational oil paintings, and currently creates acrylic, ink and mixed media abstracts. The works that will be exhibited at Color Riot show a liquid fluidity similar to her early watercolors.

“Now I am back to color and texture, but incorporating some of the architectonic lines I love,” Mink says. “Recognizing patterns is one of the most pleasurable things we do. For abstract painting to succeed it has to be rich and complex enough to offer us tantalizing multiple possibilities of patterns, without ever resolving to clarity.”


To date Mink has primarily exhibited in New York state, and this is her first solo exhibition in Philadelphia.

Color Riot will have a First Friday opening at the Jed Williams Gallery, 615 Bainbridge, on July 7th from 5pm-7pm. The exhibition will run through Friday, July 28th.

Author’s note: Barbara Mink is the author’s aunt, by marriage. Which means, unfortunately, that the author has no chance of genetically inheriting her artistic talent.