Waxing poetic

Joanne Mattera and encaustic painting plus sculpture At Montserrat; Ceci Méndez at the Center For Latino Arts
By RANDI HOPKINS  |  June 3, 2008
Mendez_inside.jpg
Cecilia Méndez, Moladora Moliendo/Grinder Grinding

“Hue Again: Paintings By Joanne Mattera” at Montserrat College of Art’s Carol Schlosberg Alumni Gallery, 23 Essex St, Beverly | June 6–July 3 | 978.921.4242

“On The Edge: New Work In Encaustic” at Montserrat College of Art’s 301 Gallery, 301 Cabot St, Beverly | June 6–July 26 | 978.921.4242

“Palabración” at Center for Latino Arts, Jorge Hernández Cultural Center, 85 West Newton St, Boston | Through July 2; gallery talk June 18 at 6 pm | 617.927.1707 x 106
New York–based artist Joanne Mattera wrote the book (I’m not speaking figuratively) on encaustic, an ancient method of painting with pigmented wax that has provided inspiration and challenges for contemporary artists at least since Jasper Johns started messing with the thick yet translucent material in the 1950s. Mattera’s The Art of Encaustic Painting: Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax is the standard reference on the subject — and her own luminous abstract works have been widely exhibited. (That includes solo shows at Arden Gallery in Boston.) Mattera, who divides her time between Manhattan and Salem, is also founder and director of the Encaustic Conference at Montserrat College of Art, and its second annual meeting is taking place this weekend. Montserrat itself is opening two related shows on June 6: “HUE AGAIN: PAINTINGS BY JOANNE MATTERA,” in the college’s Carol Schlosberg Alumni Gallery, and “ON THE EDGE: NEW WORK IN ENCAUSTIC,” at the 301 Gallery.

“Hue Again” offers works from Mattera’s “Uttar” and “Silk Road” series, in which she explores color and form through layers of encaustic applied when it is hot. Inspired by the jewel-like colors of Indian miniatures and by the small paintings of Renaissance Siena, the “Uttar” works, are built up with blocks and stacks of color; they create a mind-boggling number of variations with simple geometric elements. The “Silk Road” paintings appear as monochromes, but that effect is created through an intense depth of paint under the surface: each work is the result of some 20 layers and five or six different hues of media.

“On the Edge” is a juried exhibit of encaustic painting and sculpture, with work by 27 artists from 16 states selected by Laura Moriarty, a painter and printmaker whose own work blurs boundaries between sculpture and painting. The artists include Boston-based Linda Cordner, Deborah Kruger and Nathan Margalit, both with studios in Western Mass, Donna Hamil Talman, who’s based in Worcester, and Gregory Wright, who works in Lowell.

Boston-based Panamanian-American Cecilia Méndez is inspired by words, and her awareness of language as a tool of power figures in “PALABRACIÓN,” which is up at the Jorge Hernández Cultural Center through July 2. Here she explores issues of identity, personal history, and cultural experience, using woodblock prints and stop-motion animation films and pointed imagery that includes sharp kitchen implements. Méndez speaks about her work in the gallery on June 18.

On the Web
Montserrat College: www.montserrat.edu
Center for Latino Arts, Jorge Hernández Cultural Center: www.iba-etc.org

Related: Breakthroughs, The soft shock of the new, Staged?, More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center, Painting, Visual Arts,  More more >
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