Underneath the Surface of Contemporary Art

Rachel Bliss, Blue Dementia, 2010, oil, acrylic and graphite on panel, H. 27 x W. 33 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Beginning in September, 2012, the Michener Art Museum will present a special two-part exhibition Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Celebrating the Artists Among Us in the museum’s Paton|‌‌‌Smith|Della Penna-Fernberger Galleries.

“The hand: it’s how we touch, grasp, hold, and connect. Our hand is our unique expressive fingerprint—and with our hand we turn idea into object, and project our thought into the world,” says the Michener’s Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest Chief Curator Brian H. Peterson. “The heart is the metabolic engine, pumping life into every organ, every cell. And the heart is the soul, the essence—that indefinable substance without which nothing lasts, nothing is real. Combine hand and heart, and the spirit of the artist is born, the maker of beautiful things, things of mystery and meaning, things that ask questions, that tell us who we are as individuals, peoples, cultures.”

Artists today work in an enormous variety of styles, genres, and media, and a painter or sculptor in Philadelphia might just as well be influenced by an artist from halfway around the world as by a neighbor. Organized by the Michener Art Museum, these two exhibits celebrate the diversity among living artists, while also seeking connections that lie, often unseen, just beneath the turbulent surface of the contemporary art world.

Both exhibitions were created from submissions by some of the finest and most accomplished artists in the Philadelphia region, using the experience and skills of both Michener curatorial staff and two distinguished curatorial consultants, writer and independent curator Judith E. Stein and Judith Tannenbaum, Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design.

Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Story, Symbol, Self

September 8—December 30, 2012

The first exhibition presents the artist as seeker, storyteller, observer, and dreamer. Most of these artists begin and end with themselves as principle reference point, and their work becomes an exploration both of self as self, and self in relation to or affected by the “outside” world: Rachel Bliss, Diane Burko, Syd Carpenter, Susan Fenton, Catherine Jansen, Kate Javens, Celia Reisman, Peter Rose, Jack Thompson and Robert Winokur.

Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song

May 18—August 25, 2013

The second exhibition celebrates the artist as designer and dancer, and art as movement and visual melody. These artists love line and the lyrical, and tend toward the abstract, pulling pattern and essence out of the natural confusion and disarray of the visual environment: Jill Bonovitz, Paula Chamlee, David Ellsworth, Alan Goldstein, Ying Li, Michael Olszewski, Bruce Pollock, Stuart Rome, Bill Scott, Rochelle Toner and Paula Winokur.        

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