Chiaroscuro Spring: Regenerative Growth From the Depths of Obscurity

Chiaroscuro Spring captures the joyous opportunity for regrowth that spring, now more than ever, presents as a distinctly hopeful warm emergence from what has felt like a year-long desolate winter. Running from May 22 to October 2 at Park Towne Place, Chiaroscuro Spring unleashes a tale of new beginnings and sensational regenerations, concocting a reassurance that life fortifies its roots in even the most unwelcome of conditions. In time with the current reopening of cultural spaces across the country, a lively conversation between the works of Anita Allyn, Marilyn Holsing, Sam Nejati, Heather Ossandon, Laurie Beck Peterson, Rebecca Saylor Sack, and Jacqueline Yvonne radiates within the dramatic contrast between delicacy and resilience- where illumination emanates tenderly against the callousness of fading darkness.

Natural History, Marilyn Holsing

Drifting between each piece, the exhibition builds upon an intricate tension that moves viewers forward into an explorative world of unknown and exciting narrative, beginning with Marilyn Holsing’s Table Tableau and Natural History. Holsing’s utilization of diorama form births a microcosm that is sprouting with life and dynamic in depth. Table Tableau is composed of multiple layers in which the vibrance of growing vines destabilizes the motionless stance of its table foundation. Holsing’s watercolors also anthropomorphize landscape into fantastical context as Landscape Between Two Seas, Landscape With Water, and Landscape With Leak cultivate plants from settings without clear beginnings or endings. Branching into a similar imaginative territory, Jacqueline Yvonne’s Angel Came Back When I Scraped My Knee, Blue, and When I finally Make It Home awaken barren pieces of wood with a patient and sanguine nod to a resurging vitality as intimately specific possessions, including flowing fringe and sprouting beads, forge a spirited home despite the wood’s darkened crevices.

Capturing the essence of light that comes out of dark in a more literal, yet powerfully atmospheric lens, the cyanotypes of Laurie Beck Peterson embody the light that peeks through the trees of a dense forest, spawning a tone of nostalgia and brighter comings as if a glimpse into the horizon. The piece Tagged holds a rather ominous presence, as the doomed trees remind that their time is fleeting. The cyanotype print medium itself is historically understood as a means of permanent documentation dating back to the 19th century, however, as Beck Peterson transfers images of a past Schuylkill landscape onto the surfaces of vestigial tree stumps, these trees are given a second life via the unpredictable results of cyanotype chemicals and Prussian blue markings continuing to interact with the wood.

Ash Leaves, Laurie Beck Peterson

Tagged, Laurie Beck Peterson

Rebecca Saylor Sack’s The horse, antler and deer, a modern vanitas, embarks on a journey of captivating color while also paying tribute to the theme of fleeting life as flowers overlap decaying bones. The piece welcomes a sense of fluidity in its impressionist-like stirring clouds, forming a backdrop for flowers that actively fold, droop, sprout, tangle, darken, glow, and collectively envelop their surrounding. Sack’s Crocodile, peonies and the baboon, and Skull Pile similarly embellish animal remains with overgrowing and vibrant color.

The Horse, antler and deer, Rebecca Saylor Sack

Heather Ossandon’s ceramic still life collection including Pair of Pears I, Dinner with Snails, and Bread and Cheese revolutionizes the placidity and certainty of still life with the suggestion of reverberant motion, as leaning pears are encased in glass and scrawling snails overlap a careful patterning of resting domestic objects including bottles, lemons, and bread. Performing an active deconstruction of its own, Ossandon’s Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow Part II appears as a still life that is anything but still. Instead, it is anticipating, broken, fenced in, and emerging from artificially green AstroTurf. While the title references Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the picnic layout of the scene can be read as a play on Manet’s Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe, which includes a similarly disheveled still life in the foreground. While Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe was controversial for its untraditional composition centered on a nude model returning the audience’s gaze, there is also a uniquely raw depiction of physical being in Ossandon’s handcrafted sculptures as they characterize life taking form within an always changing body. It is as if the individual pieces that make up Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow Part II and Pair of Pears I push back against the idea of containment, diverging upwards and outwards towards a beautiful state of transition.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow Part II, Heather Ossandon

To further establish unlimited growth, Anita Allyn’s Photosynthetics series extends beyond the frames of each satin and aluminum print and effectively captures the consuming act of photosynthesis. The contrast between the textured plants and their shadowed backgrounds mimics a dimensionality that is often attributed to three-dimensional sculpture. These plants, enlivened with an outreaching visuality, mirror the reclamation of space that occurs in Yvonne’s Heirloom as plants of wire and amethyst beads burst out of a single fractured branch. As the title Heirloom suggests, the sculpture resembles a vessel for human sentiment that is unphased by mortality.

Heirloom, Jacqueline Yvonne

Flora #1, Anita Allyn

Sam Nejati’s inviting paintings, saturated in cool tones and ephemeral light, encourage spiritual movement somewhere beyond the material realm of the canvas. Both Gaze and Sanctum enrapture the viewer in the pressure between uplifting highlights and heavy shadows as well as the pressure resulting from diverging viewpoints and angles that shift between interior and exterior spaces. In the instance of Pergola of Salvation, the painting’s use of perspective beckons viewers through an archway and into another world, attaching a spiritual and transporting quality to the work.

Pergola of Salvation, Sam Nejati

Together, the pieces of Chiaroscuro Spring remind us that however mystifying the act of perseverance may feel, there is a consistency to be found in its unwavering beauty. The exhibition will be flourishing throughout the tower galleries of Park Towne Place until October 2.

Find out more about Park Towne Place

I Found My Voice Through Art. As women in a patriarchal society, we often stick to our roles until we can’t anymore. WE WAKE UP!   We feel different. The world looks like a different place. We breathe the air like it wasn’t there before. I come from a long line of activists and art lovers. My grandmother was in the Red army in Russia, immigrated here and marched with the suffragettes. My mother was a Democratic committee woman in a Republican neighborhood getting doors slammed in her face. My art reflects and represents current events in performing arts and politics. People in the news inspire me... their movement, their expression, their passion for change. Look at the eyes of my portraits. What do they see?  What have they seen?  What are they feeling?   Happiness, sadness, fear, defiance, courage... each has their own story. My paintings are like family members. There is an emotional part of me in every painting. When they sell, I feel a loss. I go back and look at the images to keep them close.
Barbara Shelly
Barbara Shelly

I Found My Voice Through Art. As women in a patriarchal society, we often stick to our roles until we can’t anymore. WE WAKE…

I Found My Voice Through Art. As women in a patriarchal society, we often stick to our roles until we can’t anymore. WE WAKE UP! We feel different. The world looks like a different place. We breathe…

I Found My Voice Through Art. As women in a patriarchal society, we often stick to our roles until we can’t anymore. WE WAKE UP! We feel different. The world looks like a different place. We breathe the air like it wasn’t…

A Philadelphia born artist, whose paintings seek to portray the textures, personalities, stories and design of weathered urban walls from the surrounding city landscape.
Stephen Haigh
Stephen Haigh

A Philadelphia born artist, whose paintings seek to portray the textures, personalities, stories and design of weathered…

A Philadelphia born artist, whose paintings seek to portray the textures, personalities, stories and design of weathered urban walls from the surrounding city landscape.…

A Philadelphia born artist, whose paintings seek to portray the textures, personalities, stories and design of weathered urban walls from the surrounding city landscape.…

Amy Cousins
Amy Cousins
Erin Elman
Erin Elman
Kathy is a visual artist who works in a variety of media, including painting, printmaking and collage. She creates surfaces that manipulate our perception of figures and spaces, with breaks in logical forms and competing perspectives.
Kathy Loev Putnam
Kathy Loev Putnam

Kathy is a visual artist who works in a variety of media, including painting, printmaking and collage. She creates surfaces…

Kathy is a visual artist who works in a variety of media, including painting, printmaking and collage. She creates surfaces that manipulate our perception of figures and spaces, with breaks in logical…

Kathy is a visual artist who works in a variety of media, including painting, printmaking and collage. She creates surfaces that manipulate our perception of figures and spaces, with breaks in logical forms and competing…

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