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The first full exhibition in Mystic Museum of Art’s 15 Water Street Gallery features the two dimensional and three dimensional works of married couple Wendy Edwards and Jerry Mischak. Professor of Visual Art at Brown University, Edwards focuses on the interaction of color relationships by combining abstraction and naturalistic imagery. A Senior Critic at Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Rhode Island, Mischak creates collage, drawings, sculpture, and wall pieces, in part inspired by Franz West and Robert Rauschenberg. He is best known for large-scale duct tape sculptures. Both artists have exhibited widely nationally and internationally, and were also the subject of a New York Times feature for their conversion of a derelict East Providence, RI firehouse into a living and studio space .
For the 15 Water Street exhibition, Edwards will present three large-scale floral paintings. The vibrant colors of the works were inspired by a desire to resuscitate and explore faded colors witnessed in the margins of works by Vincent Van Gogh. Mischak will present seven sculptures upon concrete bases which intermingle architectural brutalism with organic elements.
Thursday, September 28, 5:30pm – 7pm
15 Water Street Gallery
Wendy Edwards, Upper, 2015. Oil on canvas, 78 x 70 inches.
Jerry Mischak, Construction #2, 2016. Cement, Hydrocal, Plaster, Wood, &
Styrofoam, 33 x 14 x 11 inches. Courtesy of Jim Kempner Fine Art.
Two adjacent studios in a converted East Providence firehouse. One, evidence of a restless mind, piles of projects finished or idling, but never forgotten, including a gathering of abstract sculptures composed of concrete and plaster. The other studio, ordered, deliberate, serene, yet home to three large paintings in which vivid brushstrokes leap off of panels of solid color. For all their differences, however, fluid energy versus leaden weight, brutal minimalism against the wild and fecund, further inspection reveals a floral connection that hints that the seemingly disparate works are not so unalike.
That connection, however, is only one of the notable elements in the works by painter Wendy Edwards and sculptor Jerry Mischak on display in Mystic Museum of Art’s 15 Water Street Gallery. Featuring three large scale canvases, and seven sculptures, Wendy Edwards/Jerry Mischak, the first full exhibition in the gallery, hints at many elements, including classical antiquity, Impressionism, Socialist Classicism, and Constructivism. Moreover, the works inaugurate a beloved space and bring creative life, challenge, and reward to the former Emporium store after MMoA’s 2013 purchase and subsequent renovation. On display through November 11, the exhibition also reaffirms MMoA’s desire to have the versatility to host pop-up events, intimate gatherings, or contemporary shows by a single artist or small group of artists.
A senior critic at Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Rhode Island, Mischak is best known for large-scale duct tape sculptures. Professor of Visual Art at Brown University, Edwards focuses on the interaction of color relationships by combining abstraction and naturalistic imagery. Their work has been exhibited widely in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Edwards recently exhibited at May China 2017 at the China National Academy of Painting in Beijing. Mischak is included, along with works by Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, and others, at Twenty Years at 23rd and 10th at Jim Kempner Fine Art in New York City.
Edwards says the paintings in the Water Street exhibition were inspired by viewing an exhibition of works by Vincent Van Gogh in which she was intrigued by the faded colors at the margins of the some of the canvases. More vulnerable to light, reds and pinks showed more ageing. Through her work, Edwards sought to explore and resuscitate those and other colors.
In discussing the works, Edwards acknowledges the challenge of addressing and reinterpreting Van Gogh as a woman painter and of freeing her own vision from an accessible and recognizable master. The product of that tension and process are original and novel paintings in which sumptuous brush strokes result in a lush sensuality.
“I’ve borrowed some of (Van Gogh’s) shapes and colors and taken ownership of them while altering the scale,” she says. “My paintings are not intended to be reproductions of Van Gogh but my attraction to his paintings has been ongoing and I especially love his surface. His last paintings from St.Remy are heartbreakingly beautiful and full of life at a critical period before he left the asylum.”
For the “Constructions” in the Water Street exhibition, Mischak says he was first inspired by a book on Soviet architecture. At the same time, he came upon a quick drying cement which enabled him to see both possibilities in surface and form and to “keep it crazy and keep it raw.” The works on display at 15 Water Street, composed of concrete bases with abstract plaster blooming from that, relate to duct tape floral arrangements he made a decade ago. The varied nature and stages of projects in his studio attest to an approach in which many ideas are developing simultaneously.
“They need to live and breathe awhile, work as evolution, one thing keeps going to the next,” he says.