Opening reception: Saturday, March 6, 10 am – 6 pm
Octavia Art Gallery is pleased to announce Barbara Friedman & Philemona Williamson, an exhibition featuring two narrative painters, both women based in the Northeast.
Barbara Friedman’s painting process is exploratory. She paints to discover and likes to be surprised by her work. She sometimes paints over her old paintings while retaining certain areas and allows images to emerge from the almost fluorescent underpainting, which glows through with an ethereal light. Dislocation is a consistent theme in Friedman’s paintings, and she relies on landscape and portraiture traditions to provide the contexts in which the dislocations occur. She also lets the formalist concerns of modernist abstraction guide her. Many paintings featured in this exhibition are from Friedman’s Dutch ruff collar works. These “Big Collar” paintings take their inspiration from Old Master portraits but the play of scale and color moves the collars into contemporary discussions of bodies and genders.
Philemona Williamson’s figurative paintings depict individuals of varying ethnicities inhabiting timeless, invented, dream-like environments. Her paintings probe the psychological landscape of adolescence, blurring the lines between race, gender, and class. Featured in this exhibition are Williamson’s works on paper, which are based on her collection of dolls, toys, children’s clothing, porcelain figures, and the possible narratives they suggest. She positions them as characters in a drama, a narrative memory that plays out in the artist’s reflections, dreams, and hopes across the paper.
Barbara Friedman has exhibited widely, with 36 solo shows throughout the United States. Reviews of her work have appeared in the New York Times, the New York Sun, The Irish Times, Newsday, Art in America, ARTS Magazine, and Artweek. A group of Friedman’s paintings were selected for the 2007 issue of New American Paintings, and another group for the 2010 issue. Friedman’s paintings are included in many collections, including The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority, Franklin Furnace, Hollins University, The Marvin Sackner Collection of Concrete Poetry, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Taubman Museum of Art, and Yale University's Beinecke Collection. Friedman lives, paints, and teaches in New York City, where she has been a professor of art at Pace University since 1983.
Philemona Williamson has shown widely in the United States, Central America and recently at her mid-career retrospective at the Montclair Art Museum in NJ. She is represented in numerous private and public collections, including The Montclair Art Museum; The Kalamazoo Art Institute; The Mint Museum of Art; Smith College Museum of Art; Hampton University Museum; Sheldon Art Museum; Mott-Warsh Art Collection, and AT&T. Williamson is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including The Joan Mitchell Foundation, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, among others. She was an artist-in residence at The Joan Mitchell Center, the Millay Colony for the Arts and currently teaches painting at Pratt Institute and Hunter College. Her latest project is a series of paintings for the children’s book “Lubaya’s Quiet Roar” just out from Penguin Random House.