Sunday, August 23, 2009


Today, Michelle Marcuse, Rob Solomon, and I hung The (Dark) Show at StrataSphere Gallery in Philadelphia. This collaborative effort came about some months ago when the three of us jokingly commented that since we all had a tendency to use a dark palette in our work, that we should show together; hence, The (Dark) Show. As collaborative efforts go, this has been a very positive one--negotiations for hanging space in a relatively small exhibition space went smoothly, with all of us contributing our thoughts about what goes where. No easy feat considering how group dynamics can go with three individuals interacting. A short essay below discusses the ideas behind the show.

Foreign Soil No. 5 18 x 18"
encaustic on panel 2009

The (Dark) Show

In The (Dark) Show, Pam Farrell, Michelle Marcuse, and Rob Solomon address the dark with a grain of salt, or perhaps a broad brush. Art history abounds with references to dark as a theme. For some, the dark suggests the unspeakable, the unknown, evil, the sinister, gloomy, and ominous. For these three artists, choice of palette represents more than a proclivity for dark thoughts. Light emerging from dark, shining a light in the dark, a playful interaction of opposites, and an exploration of space and time all offer the viewer an open-ended experience to explore individual ideas about the dark, to see beyond the expected.

Pam Farrell’s work references natural phenomena and elements such as water, weather, and geographic formations to explore concepts of lacunae in terms of loss, memory, and identity. Using layers of pigmented beeswax built up and scraped back, the process allows the obscured and indeterminate to surface. Mark making is the experience; the mark is the trace. Remains, vestiges, scars, memories, clues, and the barely discernable are revealed; traces of memory and experience that cannot be expressed with words become more evident.

Michelle Marcuse uses monochromatic coloring to suggest a subdued, sometimes anxious atmosphere, one that at times appears veiled and mysterious. At first glance there may seem to be an identifiable space where specific elements are in a state of isolated flux. But Marcuse invites the viewer to explore more closely her fields of concentrated, quiet energy. Existing within silence, the fields are slow in time, with the energy moving in from the outside. The impressions suggest a distanced level of reality…seen as uncategorized extracts from a space that runs counter to our own.

Rob Solomon's current work blurs the line between painting and drawing: paintings of drawings or diagrams; diagramming paintings with collaged canvas insets; drawings embedded into painting, and paper supporting canvas overlays. The work integrates multiple processes and materials, including dyed and bleached paper, graphite on raw canvas, mars black pigmented beeswax, and black ink-based photographs. The work explores opposing elements within a theme: patterns and patterns breaking, order and destruction, making and breaking symmetry, framing and re-framing within the canvas, and delight and despair.

August 29-October 3 2009

Reception: Saturday, August 29 2-5 pm

For more information: The StrataSphere Gallery


Paul Behnke said...

Nice work Pam---Hope to get by to see the show!

layers said...

I wish I could see this DARK show in person. The words about the show and your work are beautifully written. I have painted content in the past dealing with the dark side of my childhood and past memories and so I related to what is written here very much. My paintings do not have much color either and so I am drawn to that type of work.

es said...

Love this painting...really beautiful, so rich. Congrats!

Stephanie Clayton said...

lovely description of this exhibit. wish i was there to see it; will check out the link instead.
i am drawn to work that has an element of mystery, so naturally i am intrigued.

pam farrell said...

Hello all...thanks for you wonderful comments. For any of you in the Philly area who can get to the opening, I'll look forward to seeing you Saturday.

Working on the paintings for this show, talking with Rob and Michelle about our work, writing the essay, which includes statements from all three of us, and hanging the show, has brought me to a new level of clarity about my work. As I have shifted to oil from wax over the past week or so and begun preliminary work on canvas, I feel focused (unusual for me) and grounded about going forward.

Chris Neyen said...

I really like this as an idea for a show. Maybe the dark is not that dark at all. Like the song says 'sometimes good guys don't wear white'
I'm going to try and make the opening.

Nancy Natale said...

Very nice! The color in this painting is lovely and glowing. The statements are all very strong and yours does seem very focused in a new way. Good for you in forward movement.

DJ said...

Foreign Soil has a great color scheme going on...