Stickney-Gibson and Kate Breakey

Two new shows coming up at our New York gallery: 

inside / outside
March 17 – April 23, 2016
Reception: Thursday, March 17, 6-8pm

“NO, KNOW (…still)”, 2015, oil on canvas, 42 x 48 inches

Melinda Stickney-Gibson’s new series of paintings continues her investigation into the nature of paint and painterly gesture. Neither completely abstract nor representational, her paintings reflect upon the natural world just outside the door of her Catskill Mountain home, as well as her more internal, personal narratives.

Stickney-Gibson greatly values the solitude and quiet of life in the Catskills. Her work is characterized by a diaristic, personal approach. Paintings with multi-layered surfaces begin with written marks; incorporating fragments of writing from her own journals, favorite writing samples by others, and universal words such as “yes, “maybe”, “no?”, and “her”. These marks represent specific moments; each one has an intention which once fulfilled is checked off and covered over. The paintings have an underlying hidden narrative which is eventually erased when a final white top layer of paint covers the gesture. In this way Stickney-Gibson is sharing but still keeping her stories personal. Most evident in this work is the artist’s relationship and longtime love of the physical act of painting, and her visceral love of the paint itself. She states that “though not comfortable with being labeled an Abstract Expressionist, she is in fact abstractly expressing herself and that, for her, painting is a very physical activity.”

For Melinda Stickney Gibson, painting is like life – messy, full of accidents and underlain with semi-orderly structures that bend and disintegrate under pressure of real life action. Her lyrical paintings are not so much painted as allowed to evolve, growing by accretion over periods of weeks or months (or at times, even years), as loose brushstrokes are laid over looser grids, fields of color laid down to partially obscure sketchy marks, and traces of covered layers revealed by a subtle cut through the surface. The final compositions are full of evidence of the process that created them, yielding a subtle complexity that could never have been envisioned at the beginning. —Eleanor Heartney

This is Melinda Stickney-Gibson’s 6th solo exhibition with Littlejohn Contemporary. She has been exhibiting her work since the mid-1980’s. Originally from the Midwest, and currently based in Woodstock, NY, the artist has been living and working in New York for over 30 years. She has had over 25 one-person exhibitions, and has participated in numerous group shows throughout the country.

LAS SOMBRAS / The Shadows – Photograms
March 17 – April 23, 2016
Reception: Thursday, March 17, 6-8pm

Las Sombras/The Shadows – photograms
Installation, dimensions variable

Golden Stardust – Reclining Nude
Orotone, glass with goldleaf, 13 x 19 inches

Kate Breakey’s Las Sombras/The Shadows are contact prints known as photograms or photogenic drawings. In these prints she has covered the photographic paper with a layer of translucent golden paint to tone them sepia, these works have a similar look of Victorian illustrations yet their sensibility is distinctly modern. Making pictures without a camera, like early nineteenth-century photographers such as William Henry Fox Talbot and Anna Atkins, Breakey also shares their affinity for recording the natural world in scientific detail as well as with artistic beauty. These shadows are full of light. Breakey’s luminous images of coyotes and whipsnakes, hopping mice and scorpions, are filled with her love of the American Southwest, where she lives, and the animals, plants, and insects that inhabit the land. In the way she poses the animals, Breakey’s coyotes and rabbits dance; her birds fly.

This is an art that entails both the primitive and something ethereal. In her text for her book Las Sombras/The Shadows the photographer says that she burns these “shadows” of animals and plants onto photographic paper “with light and with love.” 

Also on view in this exhibition are the artist’s Orotones, her “Golden Stardust” series. Unlike the photograms, these works are photographs developed onto photosensitized glass upon which the artist burnishes a layer of 24K goldleaf. Photographs taken from many areas around the world where the artist has travelled, from Scotland to Australia to Italy and beyond, the artist’s keen eye finds magic in every landscape and every object she encounters. 

This will be Kate Breakey’s first solo exhibition with Littlejohn Contemporary. Since 1980, her work has appeared in more than ninety, one-person exhibitions and more than fifty group exhibitions in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, China, New Zealand, and France. A native of South Australia who has also lived and worked in Texas, Ms. Breakey now resides and photographs in the desert outside Tucson. The major archive of Breakey’s work — traditional photographs as well as photograms — is held by the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University, San Marcos. Las Sombras/The Shadows is the third Breakey book in the Wittliff’s Southwestern & Mexican Photography series. 

Her books include Birds/Flowers published in 2002 by Eastland Books and Slowlight published by Etherton Gallery in 2012. Breakey has produced three substantial monographs in collaboration with The Wittliff Collections and the University of Texas Press, beginning with Small Deaths (2001), followed by Painted Light (2010) a career retrospective that encompasses a quarter century of prolific image making, and Las Sombras/The Shadows (2012) which is comprised of many hundreds of images, from a bald eagle to tiny moths and flies. This series is a continuation of her lifetime investigation of the natural world which in her own words is "brimming with fantastic mysterious beautiful things." "My art," she says, "is about connection to all living things on Earth.”