Hester Simpson

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Artist’s Statement

 

The echoes of childhood define who we are. We live in memory. — Benjamin Bush, Dust to Dust

My abstract paintings are founded in early memory, creating an emotional space that pervades my everyday life. This emotional space is what I paint. When I paint, I mix thinned acrylics to a pourable consistency, allowing an even flow over panel. I work slowly, building strata of paint in even, smooth layers, evolving mutable patterns. In this way, I record time spent, an accumulation of memory and of returning again and again to the activity of paint on panel. Color is the expressive component of my work, informed by dreams, memory, and theory. The interaction of purple, brown, green and yellow, for example comes directly from a dream, in which a visitor to my studio points to four colors on my palette and states, “These are your colors. This is what you must do.” I know immediately that these colors represent my immigrant grandparents, influential in my formative years, and essential to my present. While I play with systems of pattern and color, challenging what I know, I revisit these seminal colors during times of change.

In Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke describes this phenomenon:

And yet they, who passed away long ago, still exist in us, as predisposition, as burden upon our fate, as murmuring blood, and as gesture that rises up from the depths of time.

Such change recently occurred in the wake of my mother’s death and the clearing of my childhood home. What has emerged is a new form which pays homage to the life of trees, and how they bear witness to our own existence. My research tells me that we share 25% of our DNA with trees. As I pass them on my daily walks, they speak to me of regeneration. I respond with new paintings.

Work creates its own time. — Ad Reinhardt

Hester Simpson grew up on Long Island’s north shore in the embrace of her immigrant grandparents. Her grandfather, a painter, lavished his enthusiasm for art in every corner of life. Today, decades since his passing, Simpson credits his spirit with her own passion for her practice. Simpson studied at Carnegie-Mellon University and Cranbrook Academy of Art, and has been a Visiting Artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Tyler School of Art, and The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, among others. The highlight of her 30-year teaching career, however, is in leading and evaluating workshop programs for the homeless, the disabled, and the incarcerated. Simpson is represented by more than 30 works in the William Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection, a philanthropic arm of the Harlem Children’s Zone. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Gottlieb Foundation Grant, a Wolf-Kahn Exhibition Grant, and three residencies at The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico which transformed her sense of light and color, profoundly influencing her painting to this day. Simpson has exhibited her work internationally and is represented by Ricco Maresca Gallery New York City, where she has had five solo shows. Phyllis Braff of The New York Times has described her work as “mesmerizing.”

Christina Haglid

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Artist’s Statement

There has always been an intersection between the process of writing and painting in my work. It has somehow been my guide. In the last six years, that connection intensified as I started writing short stories and flash fiction while taking online classes. I find the process of writing and painting so different in almost every way, but there is something freeing and generative in writing which helps my painting process. Or perhaps it’s a reminder of what painting is for me – something intuitive that needs to be trusted. And what they do have in common is a desire to encapsulate and distill a single moment, a story, about the complexity of our emotions and experiences.

My work is about something I wish I could have seen, imaginary worlds, a commentary on awe that is inspired by nature, science, and history. Objects in my work are a stand in for the figure as psychologically inspired narratives comment on the strength vs. fragility of life. Items in a painting are like words on a page. Objects, spaces, and most importantly light are placed to create meaning similarly.

Christina Haglid exhibited her artwork with Ann Nathan Gallery (1997-2016) and is now represented by Gallery Victor Armendariz in Chicago. A graduate of the Maryland Institute, College of Art, Haglid attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1990 and has an M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her artwork has been included in numerous gallery exhibitions, art fairs, and museum shows including Loyola University Museum of Art, Illinois State Museum, Greenville County Museum of Art, Art on Paper New York, Art Chicago, and Art of the 20th Century at the NY Armory. She is based in Chicago, IL.

Elizabeth Shull

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Artist’s Statement

A central rhythm in my work is the exploration of texture and is often combined with the disclosure of the unexpected. I am intrigued with the nuances of the natural world and the endless supply of subject matter with all its subtleties and surprises. I don’t tell you what to see but remind you to be observant and investigate beyond the surface. By layering and creating texture there seems to be an archeological direction with what is clearly visible and what is more obscure. My art practice is about the process, risk taking, discovery, and the magic of research.

Elizabeth Shull was born and raised in Southern California and lives in Los Angeles. As a painter her predominant intention is to encourage visual exploration and trigger thinking beyond the predictable. Elizabeth’s undergraduate degree is from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She holds an MFA from Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. She has participated in many exhibitions and has pieces in several private collections.

Mary DiDoardo

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Artist’s Statement

There is a visceral connection between viewer and painter through the surface reading of a painting. All of my research is made visible in the sensuality of oil paint, its luminosity and chameleon shifts of color. I find it difficult to breathe new life into a brush stroke but can charge expression into/out of these uniform lines through process that comes from alternately working line within, around and through the field. This process integrates and embeds the line and keeps it from being simply a design element. It draws the space. The many stages are visible and are there for the viewer to read. Consistent in most of these paintings is the underlying evidence of previous stages rising to the surface through layers built up and scraped down, enriching the final version.

Mary Didoardo is a long-time resident of Long Island City, NY. She was born in New Jersey and has lived in New York City since graduating from Pratt Institute, where she majored in sculpture. Over time, painting prevailed over sculpture, but her paintings manifest a physical and process-driven sensibility oriented in early explorations with materials. She has had two solo shows at the Kathryn Markel Gallery in 2016 and 2019. Her work was represented in “ROY G BIV,” a 3-person exhibition in 2018 at the Chautauqua Institute. She is a two-time recipient of The Enrico Donati Foundation Grant. Her work was reviewed in Too Much Art, Writings on Visual Culture by Mario Naves, who wrote: “Didoardo’s abstractions are characterized by a bracing sense of freedom. They evince an artist working not only with an enviable surety, but one welcoming of risk – which, of course, puts surety to the test. That approach may be standard operating procedure for certain strains of abstract painting, but it’s one thing to make the claim, another to pull it off. Didoardo pulls it off, and then some.”

Suejin Jo

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Artist’s Statement
As an immigrant, my work deals with the inner journey between the physical and mental landscapes of Korea where I grew up and the Western world where I have spent most of my adult life. Migration as it applies to all living creatures, including humans, is close to my heart as a subject. At Westhampton Beach, I have watched endless lines of Monarch butterflies trying to head south, fighting the strong ocean winds turning them around. It takes only a few seconds for these tiny creatures to realize something is wrong and turn themselves back to continue on their journey. I am reminded of Sebastian in Tennessee Williams’ “Suddenly Last Summer.” I have seen God!

My painting process is not unlike the Monarchs’ journey. I am seeking the heart of the matter, the deepest places my emotion carries me. Often I do not know which form this will take. But I know if it is a wrong direction when I lay down my strokes, shapes, and colors. Often this takes many trials and errors. But every hour I spend with a canvas takes me closer to the essence of what I want to say. Accidents along the way often turn out to be the right path. I think of Lee Krasner saying she got up in the morning thinking she would do a green painting but at the end of the day it became a purple painting.

I care about the picture surface. For many years I used oil and dry pigment, which required me to wear a mask and be very careful not to inhale the powder. After a decade I had to give this up for health reasons as well as the difficulty of storing and exhibiting without damage. Although I miss the deep yet clear surface yielded by the kneading of the powder into the oil paint, I have come to appreciate the way acrylic and oil paint often simultaneously create an interesting picture surface.

Suejin Jo is a Korean-born abstract painter based in New York City. She studied with Stamos and Vytlacil at the Art Students League, winning a McDowell Award juried by Richard Pousette D’art and Romare Bearden. For many years, Jo painted with a unique medium of oil and dry pigment using the process of “inlay” like Korean potters of the eleventh century. Helen Harrison of The New York Times described Jo’s painting as having “the character of an ancient wall painting.” She is the recipient of a number of awards, including the Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Exhibition Award, and has exhibited nationally and internationally. Jo’s most recent solo show, Migration_Passages, opened at the John Molloy Gallery in New York City in March, 2020, but ended up in quarantine as a result of the pandemic. Her work is held in many public and private collections, including the Library of Congress and the WTC Memorial Museum. The US State Department selected Jo’s painting “Pontchartrain” to be included in its 2012 desk calendar “Homage to American Women Artists.”

Alex Stark

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Artist’s Statement

My work considers memory, vision and physicality. I have double vision and see dimensionality differently. When I create a space, I think of the eye and mind processing, understanding, and navigating the pictorial space. I self identify with the bird and birds have been appearing in my work as symbols for many years. Birds have graceful and majestic qualities: long necks, delicate feet and graceful forms but, are also fragile and clumsy on the ground. Birds have the unique perspective of flight, allowing them to travel, and explore an alternative point of view. My most recent work focuses on an intimate relationship with birds that are often supporting or entangled with a body. Using intense and often contrasting colors and expressive line work they create a relatable visceral connection.

Alex Stark is a painter and curator and practices in Boulder, Colorado and Chicago, Illinois. He received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and presently works at SAIC as a Disability Advisor. Stark has recently shown work in Chicago, New York and Colorado.

Susana Amundaraín

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Artist’s Statement

The idea that, sometimes, the experience of a painting can stay with you all your life has always had a strong resonance with the way I feel about place. I usually remember it as an intense connection in abstract form, imbedded with a singular atmosphere, a unique signature. These are ‘pictures’ that have stayed with me without aging, images that become paintings to share. They surface again and again as I paint, evolving and becoming new forms of reality. Acrylic is my favorite medium because of its versatility. Sometimes it feels as fluid as inks, and then, it can reverse to being textural and thick. Occasionally I play with fragments of paper collaged to the canvas, or canvas collaged to the paper. Many years ago I started incorporating natural mica pieces as accents in my paintings. Their transparency and tangible reality had a particular appeal to me: small windows of Earth substance and presence.

I am always in awe of the possibilities of color in areas of very low light, or very diffused light, and I am continually attracted to the poetic in quiet pictorial surfaces. This I find to be the closest to an active form of meditation, which in turn allows us a path to our unknown selves.

Susana Amundaraín is a Venezuelan-born American artist. Her drawings, paintings and installations have been exhibited nationally and internationally. Amundaraín’s work is represented in museums in South America and the United States, including the Galería de Arte Nacional and Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas, and Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá. It’s also included in many private and corporate collections, such as PepsiCO, Fundación Polar, and ALCOA. Her work has been reviewed in Art News, Art Nexus, El Papel Literario de El Nacional (Caracas), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Viceversa magazine (NYC) among many others.

Susana generally builds her paintings through a multiple layering of color transparencies and eroded surfaces, in a balance between structured and atmospheric space. Amundaraín holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Denver in Colorado, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Metropolitan State University, CO. She has also been a Visiting Scholar in Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts, in NYU, New York City. She currently lives and works in Minot, North Dakota. Please visit susanaamundarain.com.

Matthew Schommer

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Artist’s Statement

Through my work I’m aiming to evoke a feeling of hazy nostalgia. To create an atmosphere reminiscent of elusive, lingering dreams. Iconic imagery and found photographs serve as a spring board for me to explore mankind’s foggy past and uncertain future. With watercolor and acrylic paints and layers upon layers of graphite, my work prompts the viewer to analyze the human condition and society at large.

Born in Michigan, Matthew Schommer started learning drawing and painting from his father Dennis at an early age. After studying art at a local college he moved to Chicago to study film and then onto New York to work for Christies auction house and to further his art career. Matthew’s work is exhibited in galleries in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Miami. He currently lives and works in Chicago.

Fran Shalom

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Artist’s Statement
I am a modernist abstract painter with a pop sensibility.

My work balances the formal with the playful, paring down shapes and ideas into their most basic forms. To counter the chaos of everyday life, I instinctively gravitate towards elemental shapes, with defined edges resulting in an appearance of control and order (however illusionary it may be).

The shapes reference the human body but are open to interpretation. Animated by bright, cartoony colors and figure/ground relationships, I think of the paintings as ambiguous characters who inhabit my studio keeping me company and often engaging in silent conversation.

In writing about my work, art critic John Yau said, “Can we see things for what they are, even if we cannot name them, cannot in in that regard have dominion over them? I love that statement for it speaks to ambiguity and being comfortable with not knowing.

In Zen there is a wonderful saying: Not knowing is most intimate”. It suggests approaching something with open-minded and whole-hearted curiosity. I try to begin my paintings in this way, with a willingness to be present with uncertainty, and with the confidence that the process will result in work that both satisfies and inspires.

Fran Shalom has exhibited widely throughout the United States, including John Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY and the Kathryn Markel Gallery in NYC, the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge Mass, and the Newark Museum. Her work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Rose Art Museum, and the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris. She has been the recipient of a Pollack Krasner Artist Grant in 2019, a MacDowell Colony Residency, and an Art Omi Residency. She is represented by the John Davis Gallery in Hudson, New York and the Kathryn Markel Gallery in New York City.

Scott Kahn

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Artist’s Statement
 
I consider my work to be a visual diary, a record of my life, a reporting of the places and people I encounter. It is not easy to begin a painting, despite the variety and complexity of the world. It is important to me to have a reason to paint, for the impulse to be strong. If I do not feel compelled to work, how can I expect the viewer to respond to what I am reporting? If I am successful, hopefully, the painting will have depth, poetry, and honesty. The effect should be direct and clear. To achieve this result, a creative person calls upon every tool available to him: technical, emotional, intuitive, and intellectual. The act of creating, therefore, teaches us and reveals to us who we are and our relationship to life. This is why I paint.

 

Scott Kahn is an American painter with a long exhibition history, including numerous one person shows, primarily in New York City, and a retrospective in 2004 at the Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. His work is included in corporate and private collections in the U.S. and abroad. He is the recipient of two Pollock-Krasner Foundation grants and spent three summers at the Albee Foundation in Montauk. His most recent solo exhibitions were with Nicelle Beauchene in New York and Harper’s Books in Easthampton, L.I.