Julie Shapiro & Rachael Wren: Thought Patterns, The Painting Center, New York, NY

Rachael Wren, Element
Oil on linen
48 x 48 inches

January 4 – 29, 2011

Visually and conceptually distinct but with a range of common concerns, the work of Rachael Wren and Julie Shapiro sets up an exciting dialog in this two-person exhibition. Both painters explore qualities of the natural world through the language of geometric abstraction. Though neither Wren nor Shapiro works from the landscape in a mimetic sense, the phenomena and experiences they find there are essential in the conception of their images.

The dense, luminous atmosphere of Wren’s paintings is inspired by observed natural phenomena playing between tree branches, light peeking through clouds, the darkening sky before a thunderstorm. She is drawn to moments when air feels thick, when space has a presence as real as that of solid objects. Through an accumulation of small, repeated brush marks, her work explores the tension between structure and space, geometry and randomness, to create a sense of place where form and air mingle with each other.

Although Shapiro does not look to the landscape as a direct reference, in it she finds experiences and relationships that are an intrinsic source for her work. Among these are the alteration of color and light through time, the association of vertical and horizontal intervals, the distance between forms and their relativity to scale, the cycle of cluster to interstice to matrix as the seasons change, and the nuance of variation within the geometry of form or growth.

These two bodies of work are linked together by a belief that it is the interrelationships, rather than the things themselves, that are important. Both Shapiro’s and Wren’s paintings are crafted in layers, and unfold for their viewers in layers as well – offering more meaning and connections the more time is spent with them.

Julie Shapiro received her BA in art from the University of California Santa Cruz in 1972 and her MFA in painting/printmaking from the Yale School of Art in 1980. In the summer of 1976 she attended the Yale Summer School of Art, Norfolk, Connecticut. Shapiro has had numerous exhibitions around the country – her work has shown at Elizabeth Harris Gallery, NYC, Lenore Gray Gallery, Providence, RI., the Drawing Center NYC, Geoffrey Young Gallery, MA and Milwaukee Institute of Art, among others. She is currently represented by Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle and Wendt Gallery, NY and Laguna Beach, where she has had solo exhibitions. Shapiro has taught at Southern Methodist University, Dallas and at Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, and has been a Visiting Artist at numerous colleges. She has received several awards, including a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant in 1989. Her work is included in numerous collections throughout the country.

Rachael Wren received a BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1998 and an MFA from the University of Washington in 2002. She has exhibited her work in numerous group shows throughout the US, and has had solo exhibitions at the University of Massachusetts and Providence College. Wren was awarded the Julius Hallgarten Prize in 2006 from the National Academy Museum and an Aljira Fellowship in 2007. She has attended residencies at the Saltonstall Foundation, the Byrdcliffe Art Colony, Vermont Studio Center, and the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. Wren has been a Visiting Artist-in-Residence at the University of North Carolina and at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and has given lectures about her work at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, the Hartford Art School, Pratt Institute, Kutztown University, and Rhode Island College. Recently, her work was included in the February/March
2010 edition of New American Paintings.

A full color catalog with an essay by Marshall Price, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Academy Museum, accompanies the exhibit.

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