Southwest Abstraction | August 13-31, 2012

Reception, Friday, August 24th 5pm-7pm 

“Southwest Abstraction” is work inspired by, or made in, the southwestern United States, including New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Texas. Primarily a painting show, this work references the southwest, or pivots off of the experience of the southwest into more conceptual territory.

Jennie Kiessling

Some of Kiessling’s work in the Southwest Abstraction exhibition will be a result of a recent National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Community College Humanities Association  (CCHA) grant.

In April of 2012 she received a grant from the NEH and the CCHA to further pursue her research on “re-thinking American landscape painting”. She attended a Landmarks in American History and Culture workshop, which focused on the work of Georgia O’Keeffe, and her relationship to the land in New Mexico. The workshop took place in Santa Fe, Abiquiu and Taos this June.  Scholars who presented in the program were Barbara Buhler Lynes, Virginia Scharff, Lois Rudnick and Lesley Poling-Kempes.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Kiessling will give a talk on her work, her experience with the The Landmarks in American History and Culture workshop, and the new possibilities for painting the American landscape in the 21st Century.

Kiessling received a BFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MA in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. She currently lives in Masonville, CO and teaches for Front Range Community College in Fort Collins, CO.

Working with simple materials like earth, sage, leaves, graphite and pigment, Kiessling is influenced by a longstanding personal Buddhist practice, which acknowledges “the profundity of the phenomenal world.” This perspective, along with her early encounters with the open and vast landscapes of the American west in the 1980’s (and eventual migration from Chicago to Colorado), have inspired in Kiessling a rethinking of American landscape painting.

She reconsiders the Modernist preoccupations with formalism and materiality, while infusing her paintings on panel with the ephemera of the actual western landscape itself.

Mary Tomás

Another artist featured in Southwest Abstraction is painter Mary Tomás, of Dallas, Texas. Tomás works with natural forms; creating visual interludes in which to contemplate her metaphoric imagery. She uses thin oil washes, like the early chiaroscuro painters, focusing on light and shadow, form and space. For Southwest Abstraction, she has created a body of work that revolves around these elements, evoking an atmospheric quality specific to the Southwest, and to Santa Fe in particular. Tomás has a degree from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and owns Mary Tomás Studio Gallery on Dragon Street in Dallas.

Joella Jean Mahoney

Painter and Professor Emerita, Joella Jean Mahoney, from Sedona, Arizona, has been painting from the Southwest landscape for over 50 years. Drawing from iconic southwestern vistas and landforms, Mahoney reinvents this vernacular into bold abstractions that become both the place itself and it’s own mythology. Her work fuses the geological, the emotional and the spiritual.

Mahoney holds an MFA from Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. Her work has been shown and collected nationally and internationally. She has had several 50 year retrospectives in regional museums and institutions.

Oliver Polzin

Oliver Polzin of Santa Fe holds a BFA in painting from Arizona State University. He is a painter, and also makes sculptural forms from earth He designed and oversaw the construction of the massive adobe cliffs in last summer’s Meow Wolf installation, The Due Return, at Santa Fe’s Center for Contemporary Art. Polzin’s contributions to the exhibition demonstrate the literal abstraction of the Southwest – its actual dirt –into a sculptural form.

Blair Vaughn-Gruler & Ernst Gruler

GVG Contemporary co-owners Blair Vaughn-Gruler and Ernst Gruler are also contributing work to this unique exhibition.