“RED is the color we love and fear. It courses through our bodies,
it stops traffic, it is our nearest planet, it burns.”
A Gallery, Provincetown
|Lisa Pressman, "Red Space"|
Encaustic on Panel, 10 x 10 inches, 2013
Last week, several hundred artists descended on Provincetown, Massachusetts, as artists have done since 1873 when the railroad finally reached the outer tip of Cape Cod. Drawn to the exceptional light and dramatic landscape, artists including Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline and Helen Frankenthaler have called Ptown their summer home. America’s oldest art colony opened its arms once again as the latest generation of artists made the pilgrimage to participate in the Seventh Annual Encaustic Conference. For three days a variety of workshops, demonstrations and speakers expanded the narrative on the wax and pigment-based medium of encaustic, while the evenings were alive with openings and social events.
|A Summer Artist's Residence, Provincetown USA|
One of the outstanding exhibitions celebrating the Conference was the RED exhibition at A Gallery on Commercial Street. Curated by Marian Peck, this group show was exceptionally cohesive in that all of the works exhibited were by encaustic artists, combined with a common theme of the color RED. The curatorial framework provided an excellent context to explore the tremendous range of voices found in encaustic art today.
|A Gallery rolls out the red carpet for Red|
One outstanding piece in the show was by encaustic veteran, Howard Hersh. Known for pouring molten wax directly onto his surfaces, the results are powerfully luminescent, as if his paintings were somehow lit from within. The boldly incisive marks across this painting made it appear as if a living entity was about to break through the surface. He writes on his website, “I’ve been in love with the encaustic medium for almost 25 years. By allowing some of Nature’s forces, (gravity and surface tension for example) to exert their influence, I’m aligning myself more with Nature; which is the very theme of my work.”
|Howard Hersh, "Lineage 08-5B"|
Encaustic on Panel, 24 x 24 inches, 2013
Cape Cod painter and printmaker, Sharon Hayes, approaches the medium of encaustic entirely differently. As she explained at the opening, “This piece is about layers, both literal and metaphorical. It started as image transfer, became a monotype, then was cut up into rectangular strips and finally became an encaustic painting mounted on panel. This process of layering and transforming is a metaphor for the way the mind remembers and forgets.”
|Sharon Hayes, "Untitled"|
Encaustic on Panel, 8 x 8", 2013
|Sharon Hayes expresses a|
metaphor for remembering and forgetting
One of my favorite painters working in encaustic today is Lisa Pressman. She approaches the medium almost as an excavation, layering on a deliciously vibrant pallet of color and then scraping and digging away until the most complex and moving surfaces are created. She writes on her blog, “I try to reveal elements that many people have lost sight of, elements that communicate to a place deeper than words. My paintings invite a deep, visceral response that evolves over time; they have a life of their own.”
|Lisa Pressman, "Tuscan Wall"|
Encaustic and oil on board, 30 x 30 inches, 2013
|Lisa Pressman with Tuscan Wall|
Showcasing the unique sculptural properties of encaustic is Charyl Weissbach’s work from her Balsam Poplar Series. Here, she explores leaf patterns and their elegant subtle motion within space. The patterned impressions, or sgrafitto effects, are created with a batik tool known as an Indonesian Tjap. The surface texture and use of the gold leaf gave the impression of a once opulent and long ago abandoned interior.
|Charyl Weissbach, "Balsam Poplar Series Carnelian"|
Mixed media with 24k gold leaf and
resin on Belgian linen and wood, 10x 10 inches, 2013
I found the show to compellingly encapsulate the exciting depth and breadth of vision found in the encaustic community today. As I left the gallery, and headed back into the energy of Commercial Street, I felt grateful that this art colony exists and continues to thrive. Ptown is still red hot, and I hope it always will be.