Recently I discovered Pen + Brush a non-profit which has been showcasing the work of female artists and writers to a larger audience since 1894. They have a lovely ground-floor gallery at 29 East 22nd Street, with a smaller space downstairs. Their current exhibit,with the cheeky title of Broad Strokes, features the the work of 15 artists and consists mostly of paintings, but there are also photographs, textiles and a sculpture. I liked them all, but here are some of the standouts:
Josephine Barreiro has three very large canvases, Junkyard Dogs, Cat Devouring Bird, and El Toro, whose bright colors and engaging subjects pull you in. Her style is street art meets Picasso: the main figures outlined in black, with a cubist feeling, over which she has painted and spray painted bright turquoise, red, canary yellow, and sometimes green. Each picture is suffused with energy: you can practically hear her Junkyard Dogs howl (note how the incisors are especially pronounced); the cat risks being blinded by the bird its devouring, it’s so bright; the bull is clearly a riff on Picasso, but has its own sensibility.
Maria Stabio’s works are much smaller, but pack their own punch, by layering words on top of images. My favorite has pink flowers painted on a black background, over which the painting’s title,“If you give up now, what were you fighting for” is printed in thin green letters. But, if you look a bit closer, you’ll see that each word is repeated in black, stencil-like letters, making this a many-layered work.
Kristina Horne has two small pieces, Dream 1.0 and 2.0, amorphous shapes fashioned from gel and silver on a black background (photo at top). Every time I looked at them I saw something new.
Leah Oates photo series, Transitory Space…. is a multi-layered, yet etherial visual essay on nature. Her photos of trees in the Bronx, are colored in beautiful aqua and pink, while the ones in Brooklyn were shot in black and white, with a splash of red in the center. The Beijing series prominently features green vegetation in the foreground, set against ghost like buildings. On the lower level of the gallery, she has two great photos of lotus leaves that seem to float beneath the water; the blues and greens really pop out.
Also on the lower level is the very vibrant Let Them Eat Poppies, by Courtney Hayes-Sturgeon – the yellows and reds really pop!
There’s lots more to see, and I’ll post a few more photos on my Instagram feed.
The show runs through June 5th. I recommend it.
Pen + Brush also run literary events; on May 8th, they’ll have a reading and launch of So Late to the Party by poet Kate Angus (former teacher of mine)