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On display at the Scotts Mills Gallery are the sculptures, mobiles, paintings, drawings, videos, and photo montages of seven artists that provoke ideas about balance.
Curated by John Howell White
Gallery opening reception is Friday, June 11, 6-8pm, in accordance with Philadelphia’s Covid health safety restrictions. T
he seven artist, all living in the Philadelphia area, are: Philip Hart, mobile sculpture; Leigh Kane, video art and photo montage; Iwan (John) Nazarewycz, painting and drawing; James Rose, ink drawing; Heather Ramsdale, mixed media sculpture; Rick Salafia, wood sculpture; John Howell White, painting.
According to curator and educator Dr. John Howell White, “the notion of balance has been a persistent consideration of artists and designers throughout time. In the early 20th century, it was codified as a “principle” of art and design. In addition to spatial perception, contemporary artists have investigated its application to duration, social conditions, image mediation, ethical positions, physical processes, and psychological states.” On display at the Scotts Mills Gallery are the sculptures, mobiles, paintings, drawings, videos, and photo montages of seven artists that provoke ideas about balance and its many modifiers: in-balance; on-balance; out-of-balance; off-balance; re-balance, and so on. Whether “balance” is considered as a universal ideal, a personal condition, or a social construct, the term provides a means to talk about how we scale our experience. These works extend that conversation through the sensations they provoke.
Philip Hart is exhibiting four mobiles constructed out of wire and painted metal. Hart sees compositional and physical balance as fundamental to pattern recognition, which is at the heart of language and consciousness. Though mobiles are the result, it is the malleability of consciousness that is Hart’s subject, where motion is the activating agent, and balance is the unifying element.
Leigh Kane is showing two bodies of work: three video animations and twelve photo montages. In her videos, Kane overlays William Blake’s poetry with imagery of her mouth, alluding to the duality of the smile’s ability to both charm and menace, seduce and deceive. In her still series, she balances Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry with schematic diagrams to consider everyday objects and personal loss.
Iwan (John) Nazarewycz’s work includes three oil paintings, and five drawings in water and oil-based mediums, all requiring the viewer to linger a moment more than they might to grasp their essential incantations. His notion of balance is “simply the state of grace.” In his painting Agnus, the artist makes a gentle but insistent reference to a sacrificial lamb, a universally shared state.
James Rose’s Colored and Untitled are each composed of multiple separate drawings. Both works are figurative, self-portraits, set in compositions that mirror the complexity of his interior world and the world that surrounds him. Rose’s use of formal balance serves as a counterpoint to his struggle to finding emotional balance in a world invested with fear, race, isolation, sexuality, spirit, struggle, and change. Rose’s work is mostly about being off-balance in this society.
Rick Salafia’s series Object Lessons is composed of nine wooden sculptures that protrude from the wall, referencing cantilevers and their precarious state of balance. While these meticulously crafted objects allude to functionality, they have no instrumental value. As the series title suggests, Salafia uses these physical forms to teach lessons about or to embody abstract concepts, like balance.
Heather Ramsdale’s two sculptures (metal, wood, and concrete), Stuckface and The-Director, portray a series of dichotomies: familiar yet new, heavy but light, stable and uncertain, curious but plausible, all in consideration of balance. These distinctive polarities oscillate between one another, providing moments of elegant tension through her careful editing of form.
John Howell White’s Utter “Happiness” is a large-scale brightly pigmented oil painting that appears as a thicket of entwined markings. The completed work documents those multiple painting processes used to generate its production. For White, both making and viewing artwork is a negotiation which requires falling in and out of balance with our personal histories, social conventions, physical sensations, and ideals.