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  • By Carol Taylor-Kearney

The Happiest of Holidays at Cerulean Arts

Updated: Feb 3, 2020

Welcome to you and to 2020! Before beginning with the new year, I thought it would be informative to finish up 2019 at Cerulean Arts with their December events.

Cerulean Arts Gallery + Studio.  1355 Ridge Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19123

Cerulean Arts was very busy in December. The last Collective Members’ Exhibition—which I

Cerulean Arts Annual Holiday party and trunk Show invitation

wrote about in a previous post called "Expressing Expressionism"—was for artists Laurence Bach, Kitty Caparella, Jeanne O’Shell, Stephanie Rogers, and Ruth Wolf. During this exhibition, on Saturday December 7th, Cerulean hosted its Annual Holiday Party + Trunk Show. Aside from a cider and cookies reception, Adorn Custom Jewelry, Alan Willoughby (ceramics), Beanie Original (jewelry), Elaine Milito (ceramics), Martha Kent Martin (jewelry), and Pia St. Onge (fiber, dyed and painted silk) presented and sold their fabulous pieces within the rooms of Cerulean Arts. Now, even if you missed this gathering, the good news is that these wares are proffered by Cerulean Arts Gallery in their shop—both online and physical space.

Two by Two: A Review

At the same time, another Cerulean Arts Gallery and Studio exhibition was transpiring. Called “Two by Two”, it entailed each of ten artists to create four same-sized works of similar media

Two by Two, installation view.  Left to right: Hugh Hamrick, Evan Fugazzi, Allison Syvertsen, Michael Rossman, Bill Scott

installed two over two. The artists included Sandy Cadwalader, Evan Fugazzi, Hugh Hamrick, Michael Kowbuz, Aubrey Levinthal, Michael Rossman, Bill Scott, Teresa Shields, Allison Syvertsen, and Louise Vinueza. It was interesting to see how each of these artists interpreted the strictures. Some kept the size of their pieces consistent while others created pairs. For example, Evan Fugazzi’s brightly colored mixed media on photo-paper works present two as almost-squares and two as vertical rectangles. They are further kept relevant to each other by

Two by Two, installation view.  Left to right: Hugh Hamrick, Evan Fugazzi, Allison Syvertsen, Michael Rossman, Bill Scott

the handling of materials and the geometry of their abstraction. Louise Vinueza four paintings shared their size and their sense of imagination with each other. Most kept the materials, sizes, and themes consistent throughout like Bill Scott’s watercolor and ink paintings based onabstracted flowers were vivid and playful. Hugh Hamrick’s representational paintings of churches with steeples set the organic shapes of the natural world against the architectonic of man-made structures. Similarly, Allison Syvertsen has paintings of backyard scenes with

Two by Two, installation view.  Left to right: Teresa Shields, Michael Kowbuz, Aubrey Levinthal, Sandy Cadwalader, Louise Vinueza

vegetation, fences, and buildings from a variety of vantage points. Teresa Shields. “Pomegranate “mixed media works have a perfect square holding a perfect circle filled with embroidered textures—they team with life. Aubrey Levinthal offered a series of oil pastel and pastel on paper works featuring what seems to be a self-portrait with moody grays and pops of color. And Michael Rossman made a series of storms sweep across the page throughgraphite shadings and squiggly lines. Michael Kowbuz demonstrated how the

Two by Two, installation view.  Left to right: Teresa Shields, Michael Kowbuz, Aubrey Levinthal, Sandy Cadwalader, Louise Vinueza

phenomenon of glass can affect storytelling. In two of his pieces he presents what light and the reflective quality of a flat glass surface can do; two other pieces describe the different transparencies of looking through windshields and partitions from a back seat of a car. Sandy Cadwalader had the most experimental of all the works shown. Assemblages composed of a platform made by an exotic high-heel stuffed with plush toys and other odd-bits. They make me think of holiday gifts—the lux goods I pined for as a four-year-old and as a grown-up.

The artists of “Two by Two” had an Artist Talk at Cerulean Arts Gallery on December 14th. Catch the whole presentation below:

Cerulean Arts Collective Associated Members Exhibition

Also on December 14th was the opening for Cerulean Arts Collective Associated Members Exhibition. The artists featured in this exhibition include Jean Burdick, Laura Eyring, Dora Ficher, Mindy Flexer, Nancy Halbert, Marguerite Heilman, Joanne Karpowitz, Alan Lankin,

Alice Lesnick, Anne Marble, Pat Moran. and Lee Muslin. Wit Lopez, managing editor for, wrote a review called “Nothing but blue skies at Cerulean Arts' group exhibition”. (You can access the article by clicking on the title.) It highlighted the gallery and some of the exhibition participants—Alice Lesnick, Alan Lankin, Joanne Karpowitz, Marguerite Heilman. Anne Marble has a mention and an image of her cast paper work while just a mention for Dora Ficher and “encaustic” was provided. It was nice that Wit Lopez invited me, the reader, to visit and make my own observations on some of the other artist. So, with that, I will!

Installation view.  Dora Ficher, encaustic.

So, let’s start with Dora Ficher and her encaustics. Looking at her gallery I am aware that Ficher is an artist who works in series and groupings. The first clue are the “Poppy” paintings. Six in all, they line up as individual portraits of promise and hope—tall and proud. To their right is a grouping of small, squares, nine in all. There are shared motif and color—curling lines like yarns and threads; yellows, oranges, reds, and greens that make me think of patterns in trees or leaves. But I am also reminded of actions. Some make me think of walking through a wood, the motion of mixing, or of sound waves. Their materiality makes them softly glow. Two of my favorites are based on musical instruments—a violin and a guitar. The strings of the instruments are matched by the striped background, and the diagonal positioning of the subject is supported by lines that could be convoluted to be a score. It should be mentioned that on January 11th, Dora Ficher is offering a workshop at Cerulean Arts for encaustic monoprints. To enroll go to

Installation view. Anne Marble, cast paper

Anne Marble was the other artist name mentioned in the article, and there was an image of her artwork—a cast paper piece. And her collection included a variety of cast paper works, sometimes two to a frame. “Possibilities” is the word that comes to my mind when confronted by these specimens. Like Rodin, Marble seems to have fragments that she molds into her cast papers and reuses them to generate another, different form. The arrangement, the color of the paper, the size and configuration, all play a part in the ultimate work. In many ways I am reminded of looking for something in a droplet under a microscope—perhaps it is that the field is only so big and that the impressions erupt within it sporadically. But I am also reminded of finding something precious—like that perfect shell amongst all the shells on the beach, the one that calls to only me, or a flower or clover amongst a sea of grass.

Installation view. Jean Burdick, silkscreen

Jean Burdick is a printmaker extraordinaire. Her previous work in the Cerulean Arts Associated Members’ show included silk screens of trees over patterns representing nature. Tree patterns still figure in with the multitude of layered design, but buildings, fences, walls, gates, windows, and even cobblestone streets come together for even more complexity. She keeps her palette subtle, but I find myself knowing the weather or the time of day by the colors that she chooses. The buildings themselves are not fully given, rather she presents architectural elements that tell us about the buildings and their surroundings. Many of these details are ornate and indicate older structures. All of these come together to bring forth a mystery.

Laura Eyring also uses trees as part of her subject matter. But I would also say that trees,

and the way that they can both unite and divide a space, is what Eyring is about. Her trees are leafless so that the trunks and the branches form dividers and webs throughout the canvas surface. Strangely, in some the trees’ shapes act as fissures, in others as cracks, in Deco Woods II both. The ground, meaning the sky and the earth, prove how astute Eyring is to color. Changes of color used in the spaces between the lines of the branches can be extreme. Yet her handling demonstrates an artist who has carefully studied expressing light through paint.

Installation view. Mindy Flexer, painting

Mindy Flexer presents some of the largest works of this group of artists. They are strangely unique in that, even as rather large paintings, they seem to float in a gravity-less environment. Maybe this is because they all have instances of flight to them—birds, wings, skies. Maybe it is because there is no determined horizon line. Unlike Degas—and her work reminds me of Degas—she does not feel a need to connect her figures to either the top or bottom of her canvases. (Think here of “Miss Lala at the Circus Fernando”.) And also like Degas, she plays with the ground plane, that is, shapes coming forward and back on the painting surface; what Hans Hofmann called “push-pull” and one of the qualities picked up by Modernists from Degas—as found in “The Milliner’s Shop”. Her gracefulness with patterns and color keep my eye away from the sense of edges and corners, turning and swirling within the action, moving close-to then away from the painting.

Installation view. Nancy Halbert, pastel on paper

Nancy Halbert is an artist with movement on her mind. For this exhibition she has given us a group of landscapes done in pastel. In these works, it seems to me that landscape is only partially important. I get the topography and the atmosphere. But it is the movement of the materials—the strokes of the pastel on the paper, the blending and transitioning of the colors that draws my interest. My eyes dance—getting set up in a staccato of pattern, zooming down bands of straight line, roving across stretches of hue. I progress and change direction following the marks.

Pat Moran is full of surprises. Previously, he presented “hinterglasmalerei”, or for those who do not speak German, “reverse painting on glass”. Moran used ink and his monochromatic

Installation view. Pat Moran, monoprint and reverse glass painting

pieces were jaw-dropping, especially the ones for which he also constructed a frame from plaster. This time he is broadening his output by offering both monochromatic glass paintings and colorful monoprints, sometimes even monoprints with acrylic paint added. This could have been very disjunctive—representational scenes like “Jump Start” with abstractions like “Promenade”, and near abstractions like “A Walk Through the Garden”. Fortunately, there are two factors, both at the hands of Pat Moran, holding all these works in the same orbit: one is their high quality of execution; the other is their imagination. How they are presented doesn’t hurt either. Motif in one is used in another. And this arouses the connections observed in all the artwork.

If I were to name an exhibition for the paintings of Lee Muslim it would be “Cloudy with a

Installation view. Lee Muslin, painting

Sense of…”. By this I am alluding to Muslin’s sense of fabricating atmosphere and space through the layering of color-- like Mark Rothko rather than Clyfford Still. To these atmospheres she adds marks: some zig-zags like springs going off, some curves to form cirles, some on top of the paint, others scratched in. This makes for an interesting dynamic that defies expectation. Experience tells us that atmosphere, the clouds, move. Here, the cloudy parts stay put while the action is in the jumpy lines.

Because I do not like to leave anyone out, i am including gallery shots for the other artists. This way you have a fuller impression of the massiveness and diversity of this

Installation view.  Alice Lesnick, painting

Associate Collective Members' Exhibition and of the exhibitions that take place all year long!

Installation view.  Alan Lankin, painting and mixed media

The Cerulean Arts Collective Associate Members Exhibitions is scheduled until January 12.

Installation view. Joanne Karpowitz, ceramic

To see the artwork of any of these artists go to

Installation view.  , Marguerite Heilman, painting

and scroll through the directory and click on the artist’s name.

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