Press Release: Bennington, VT September 8, 2016
PARTICLE/WAVE Photographs by Leslie Parke Exhibit Opens at Bennington Museum
For immediate release
Hi/lo res images available
Artist Leslie Parke will exhibit her large-scale photographs in an exhibition called PARTICLE/WAVE at the Bennington Museum, Bennington Vermont, from October 9 through December 30, 2016. Please join Parke for the Artist’s Reception on Saturday, October 15, 2016 from 3:00pm to 5:00pm in the Regional Artists’ Gallery. The reception is part of Community Day, Celebrating Art which offers free admission all day.
“For years I used photography as an aid to my painting. Then I had a studio with Robert Wolterstorff , director of the Bennington Museum. He asked me why I didn’t print my photographs. My immediate response was, “I’m a painter.” The seed was planted, and over the next years I did start printing my photographs.
My approach remains largely that of a painter. I want the photograph to look like a painting and be responded to as a painting. I looked at archival inkjet printers as a new painting medium. There are things they can do that you cannot do in paint, and they offer colors that have a kind of luminosity you don’t always find in oils. I was interested in the way the ink reacted to the watercolor-like paper, and how one can achieve a density in the black that is not always possible in paint. Basically I was painting with a camera.
Just to be clear, the images are not created in Photoshop. When I photographed wrapped cargo, I liked the fact that the surface changed with the light and weather. It reflected what was around it. The local color of the object was almost never the color that you saw. These surfaces worked like Monet’s pond, reflecting the atmosphere around it. It is like exploring the ideas of quantum physics. I undo what it is that we understand about something. Is it a painting or a photograph? Is it something real or something abstract? Are we looking through something, at something, or at something reflected? I think that the more times I am able to multiply these questions, the more interesting things become.”
Robert Wolterstorff, Executive Director of Bennington Museum has followed Parke’s work for many years. “Leslie has been making photographs for years, but they served as the raw material for her paintings, a means of discovering and recording the world that was always intended to be translated into a language of gesture and paint. But when she first showed them to me I was fascinated, and I urged her to think of them as independent works of art. Leslie Parke’s photographs of the last three years still grapple with the Modernist concern with abstraction and surface, but bring this forward into a 21st-century digital language. They incorporate contemporary concerns about the nature of reality, the trustworthiness of our perceptions and the sustainability of our civilization, while offering visual and intellectual delight.”
Leslie Parke, an artist from upstate New York, is a recipient of the Esther and Adolph Gottlieb Grant for Individual Support, the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest grant as artist- in-residence at the Claude Monet Foundation in Giverny, France, and the George Sugarman Foundation Grant, among others. Her exhibits include the Williams College Museum of Art; The Bennington Museum, Bennington, Vermont; the Museum of the Southwest, Midland, Texas; the Fernbank Museum, Atlanta, Georgia; the Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin; and the Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Parke has a BA and MA from Bennington College. Her work is in numerous corporate and private collections.
Bennington Museum is a museum of Art, History and Innovation that connects you with real objects, challenges you with intriguing ideas, and excites your imagination.The Bennington Museum is about the creativity of southern Vermont, eastern New York State, northwestern Massachusetts, and southern New Hampshire in all its forms, from the 18th century to the present. The Museum is located at 75 Main Street in Bennington Vermont. For more information, please visit www.leslieparke.com, www.benningtonmuseum.org or call 802-447-1571.
Article, October 2016: Vasari21.com
A recent article by Ann Landi of my work:
For Release week of August 29th, 2016:
“Particle-Wave” an Exhibition of Photographs and Paintings by Leslie Parke at Soprafina Gallery
Boston, MA — Artist Leslie Parke will exhibit large-scale photographs and paintings in an exhibition called “Particle-Wave” at Soprafina Gallery in Boston from September 1 to October 1.
In “Particle-Wave” Parke’s large-scale photographs test our perception. Are these paintings or photographs? Are we looking at something, through something, or at something reflected?
“I seek subjects that area filled with light, atmosphere, and a sense of weather and time,” says Parke. “I found these qualities in the surface of industrial cargo, decaying fences, the puddles in parking lots, and the windows of abandoned stores. Like Monet’s Lily Pond, these surfaces reflect what is around them. They are part of our industrial landscape, but serve as a surface for broader meditations.”
“Particle-Wave” is at Soprafina Gallery, 55 Thayer Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, www.soprafina.com, (617) 728-0770 Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday 11 am – 5:30 pm. Artist’s reception Friday, September 9th from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm.
Catalog Essay: Particle – Wave by Robert Woltersdorff
I met Leslie Parke shortly after I became director of the Bennington Museum in 2012. Our paths would have crossed soon in any case, but it was the planning of our new Bennington Modernism Gallery, unveiled July 2013, which brought us together. Leslie took both her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Bennington College, and her work ultimately still deals with the rich and complex tradition of Modernist painting that was practiced at the college and in this community in the 1960s and 1970s by such masters as Paul Feeley, Kenneth Noland, and Jules Olitski.
Her paintings and photographs are visually and intellectually complex, delving into questions of perception versus reality, representation versus the means of representation, the testimony of the eye versus the brain and, ultimately, how we can know and trust what we see.
Her work has always explored the interface between representation and abstraction. This theme became stronger about nine years ago, with large-scale paintings inspired by nature. These depicted pools of water and thickets of trees, where there were deliberate tensions between flatness and depth, between surface, transparency, and reflection. In 2008 she began the “Recycled” series, inspired by compressed bales of detritus in landfills. Colorful trash is pushed up against the picture plane, introducing a deliberate ambiguity between the painted surface and the surface of what is depicted. These works also for the first time involve the viewer in a sort of moral dilemma, as we are caught between delight in the succulent colors and the creamy painted surface and revulsion at the subject matter. Is it right to take so much pleasure in the refuse of a throw-away, consumer society? The “China” series, also begun in 2008, depicts white and gold porcelain dishes, sometimes underwater. Superficially, the subject allowed her to explore surface, reflection, and transparency—age old themes of the still-life painter—but on a deeper level they are about the confusing effects of shimmering, broken surfaces, pushing even further the eye/brain dichotomy and introducing a new tension between representation and the means of representation, in the form of broken brushstrokes.
In the last three years her work has taken on a strong epistemological focus, pushing beyond these issues of abstraction and representation to engage deeper issues of perception and recognition, and ultimately the nature of the visual world and how we comprehend it. I detected the first signal of this new direction in her large paintings of shipping pallets of cargo, shrink-wrapped in clear plastic film. Initially one sees the continuing theme of transparency and reflection. But these works are deliberately confusing. The scale is ambiguous. Your eyes can’t decide what you are looking at, or how big it is, until your conscious brain sorts it out. Sometimes I feel almost queasy when I first regard at them; I’m in quicksand with nothing solid to stand on, a miasma of visual confusion. And yet, if you give yourself over to it, this is a delicious disorientation, similar to the out-of-control delight that I’m guessing skydivers and bungee jumpers experience.
Leslie has been making photographs for years, but they served as the raw material for her paintings, a means of discovering and recording the world that was always intended to be translated into a language of gesture and paint. But when she first showed them to me I was fascinated, and I urged her to think of them as independent works of art.
Printed on watercolor paper at the scale of paintings, Parke’s recent photographs push all these issues of perception and representation to the extreme. The photographs of cargo on pallets record the shimmer of light on the reflective plastic, condensation on the inside, and the product below. These are precise, un-manipulated photographs; and yet despite that they are unsettling and disorienting. It’s hard to sort out just what you are seeing. At the same time, they work as abstract compositions of dappled, broken colors, ravishingly beautiful. And still they confront us with the tension between the attractive and the repulsive, the rare and beautiful versus the banal and commercial. Parke has continued exploring these themes in series recording lichens on rock, reflections on mylar film, whitewash on abandoned shop windows, and paint on asphalt.
Leslie Parke’s photographs of the last three years still grapple with the Modernist concern with abstraction and surface, but bring this forward into a 21st-century digital language. They incorporate contemporary concerns about the nature of reality, the trustworthiness of our perceptions and the sustainability of our civilization, while offering visual and intellectual delight.
For Release week of July 20th, 2015:
Artists Leslie Parke and Michael Williams
Featured in “Real Abstract” Exhibition at North Main Gallery
Salem, NY – Artists Leslie Parke and Michael Williams will exhibit photographs and computer constructs in an exhibition called “Real Abstract” at North Main Gallery, in Salem, New York from July 25 through August 22.
In “Real Abstract”, Parke and Williams approach their work from opposite ends of the spectrum, one using photographs and the other work designed on the computer. While Parke’s work is entirely “real”, it appears, as abstract as Williams’ work. They are not surprised to find themselves mining similar visual territory. Parke says, “Michael and I both came to the region because of our interest in the mid-century Modernist artists Noland, Olitski and Caro, who were working here at the time. When after many years, I came to Michael to print my photographs, it was exciting to see that we still both spoke the same language. There is a very short distance between what is real and what is abstract in this work.”
“Real Abstract” is at North Main Gallery, 196 North Main Street, Salem, New York, 12865, www.northmaingallery.org, 518-854-3406. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday 12 – 4 pm and Saturday, 11 – 3 pm. Opening reception Saturday July 25th from 2 – 5 pm.
From the Post Star: Seeing the light, casting shadows
Human vision relies on the reflection of light — the eye cannot see without it. But light is more than just brightness.
The concept takes center stage in two solo art shows opening this weekend. In “Everything Is Real,” an exhibit at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, Vt., Leslie Parke of Cambridge creates abstract paintings based on her observation of light on everyday objects. Sculptor Larry Kagan makes art from the interaction between light and twisted steel in “Lying Shadows” at The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls.
A new light
An established painter with a reputation for abstract work, Parke is seeing the world differently these days. “There is an ambiguity between something that is real and something that is abstract,” Parke said. Everyday objects have become sources of inspiration. A pallet on a loading dock, an industrial garage door, a steel road plate and discarded insulation board are things of beauty through her eyes.
Her current canvases ride the line between representational art and abstraction, depending on perspective. Through composition, Parke creates extreme close-ups of her subjects, turning the real into abstract and the mundane into fascinating. “Wrapped Cargo,” one of the pieces in the Southern Vermont Arts Center show, came from an accidental discovery while walking down a pier in Maine. “There were pallets loaded with stacks of things and wrapped in plastic. It was outside on a drizzly day. There were raindrops on the surface and condensation behind it. The sun hit it, and it was glistening,” Parke said. At that moment, Parke realized she was looking at more than a shipping pallet.
“I knew what my subject really was — it was really the light itself,” she said. With her camera, she was able to capture that exact moment.
“For this work, I have to work from photographs. I have to get that exact moment rather than an expanse of time. Light changes so much, even from second to second. You could never do this kind of painting working from nature,” she said.
Art critic Christopher Millis describes the work as being “charged by contradictions: impersonal grids softened by sunlight; watery washes with metallic spikes; a cathedral of squiggles above a perfectly triangular black hole; the aurora borealis in a zip lock bag.”
The series relates to previous bodies of work, but Parke views it as a new chapter in her career.
“I feel like it’s the beginning, in a strange way,” she said. “I’ve hit on this note before, but I didn’t know what the meaning of it was for me. I have a pretty restless mind — physics, art history. Put those thing together, and you end up with where I have gotten.”
Contact: Leslie Parke – firstname.lastname@example.org or 518-677-8872; 518-854-7840
Leslie Parke’s Painting Series “Everything is real” Featured
– New York artist Leslie Parke will be featuring her new painting series “Everything is Real” at the Southern Vermont Art Center from June 14 – July 20. “Everything is Real” is a group of paintings that are both abstract and representational. Each image in the series exists in the real world – an old board of insulation, an industrial garage door, a silo and corncrib, a track in the mud, and wrapped cargo on pallets. At the same time, each has been composed to accentuate the inherently abstract qualities of the reflective surfaces and their interplay with light.
Parke says, “I have painted many things from nature in the past, and even some traditional still lifes, but I’ve never completely related to those traditional genres. It wasn’t until I stumbled onto a waterfront dock piled high with pallets of cargo wrapped in plastic that I felt I’d finally found my subject. This shiny, transparent, and translucent stuff, which reflected light and held water bubbles from the rain, had all the qualities I was searching for. The subject is completely abstract, and yet has a surface as complex and difficult to paint as one of Ingres’ satin dresses. “
Catalog Essay: Everything is Real, by Christopher Millis
Little do I remember of the astronomy lecture I attended twenty some years ago on a warm summer night in an observatory on what may be the last densely wooded tract of land in Cambridge. What I do remember is that the lecture put me in a kind of swoon. For the first time in my life, science and poetry became one. Somehow a talk on chaos theory and its relation to the order of the universe – randomness as the predictable and necessary precursor to design – had the heft and elegance and perspicacity of a poem you want to memorize or a painting you don’t want to leave.
Leslie Parke’s paintings live at the same intersection where patterns court chaos, abstraction approaches the figurative and stasis hovers on the cusp of implosion. Her paintings are charged by contradictions: impersonal grids softened by sunlight; watery washes with metallic spikes; a cathedral of squiggles above a perfectly triangular black hole; the aurora borealis in a zip lock bag.
But even contradictions are connected by themes, and what’s most striking across these disparate, spirited works is their relentless energy. This is a painter who thrashes in her sleep. And it is not merely high-powered kinesis that comes through so much as the integration of movement, color and form. It is no coincidence that the lines of “Silo” shift from vertical on the left half of the diptych to horizontal on the right; those same lines correspond with the play of light – muted to the left, increasingly luminous as the eye moves right. For all that it initially appears purely cerebral – the meticulous study of an industrial grid – the painting as a whole achieves the thrilling solace of a sunrise.
As with many artists at their performance peaks, Parke’s recent paintings seem deceptively effortless. They’re not. Go back to them; they have a lot to say.
Christopher Millis’ criticism has appeared extensively in such publications as Art News, Artspeak, The Black American and The Boston Phoenix as well as on National Public Radio. He is the former editor of artsMEDIA Magazine in Boston.
Washington Post, November 30, 2013: D.C. gallery shows: ‘Beach China’
(Courtesy Leslie Parke and cross mackenzie gallery) – Leslie Parke. “Plates in the River,” on view at cross mackenzie gallery.
By Mark Jenkins, Published: November 27 E-mail the writer
Cross MacKenzie is known for ceramics, but that’s not all the gallery exhibits. Sometimes Upstate New York artist’s “Beach China” depicts elegant porcelain afloat in the ocean, glistening with water and light.
The plates, cups and saucers have personal meaning to Parke — they belonged to her grandparents — but not much visual context. She focuses tightly on her subject, so the image is emphatic and enveloping. There’s no beach in “Beach China,” just tableware and water, meticulously rendered. A virtuoso at painting reflections, Parke uses her subjects’ glossy surfaces to investigate the qualities of light, much as the photorealists did with glass and polished steel.
The show also includes two of Parke’s paintings of empty, crushed cans, often with their labels still attached. These are similar to the pictures of floating crockery in composition and technique, and also theme: They peruse things that have lost their purpose. The “Beach China” series is more poignant, however. There’s both more beauty and import in family heirlooms than in a discarded can of diced tomatoes.
Leslie Parke: Beach China
On view through Dec. 11 at Cross MacKenzie Gallery, 2026 R St. NW; 202-333-7970; www.crossmackenzie.com
Press Release: Cross MacKenzie Gallery Exhibition:
CROSS MACKENZIE GALLERY
2026 R St. NW Washington DC 20009
HOURS: Wed-Sat: 12-6:00pm
LESLIE PARKE: “Beach China”
Friday November 8th – December 11, 2013
Opening Reception: Friday November 8th 6-8:00 pm
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present a solo show of paintings by acclaimed New York artist, Leslie Parke. Her subject matter fits well with our gallery’s program emphasis on ceramic arts, but with a two dimensional perspective.
The formal china Leslie Parke grew up with at her grandfather’s large Victorian beach house on Fire Island from Edith Wharton’s era, was never used in her mother’s generation. And by the time she and her brother inherited these boxes and boxes of fine English porcelain with place settings for every imaginable occasion, a storm had washed the family summer house out to sea. The china was saved and kept stored by yet another Parke family successor.
One day, the artist and her brother decided to finally use the precious china.They brought it down to the ocean and laid it out on the beach; dinner plates, luncheon plates, soup bowls, serving plates, teapots, cups and saucers were placed on the water’s edge. As the artist poetically says, “Then the tide began to rise.”
The series of paintings that grew out of this nostalgic exercise are very poignant images. Floating and sinking plates in the water bring up thoughts of another time lost to us now. Like the treasures on the Titanic, beautiful objects are forever in a different world – another dimension. They remind us of a more formal epoch filled with elegant gowns and ceremonial decorum, now mostly abandoned for the conventions of a more casual era.
Parke’s subjects – water, crystal, china and crushed cans transformed into quasi-abstract compositions, become vehicles for shape, color, space and light. Her use of monumental scale, all-over compositions and gestures, assert the surface of the painting. She crops her images close to minimize the context of the scene, like the late Water Lilies by Monet or the drip paintings of Jackson Pollack, the viewer feels situated inside the painting.
Leslie Parke is a recipient of the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Individual Support Grant, the Lila Wallace Readers’ Digest Grant, the Claude Monet Foundation artist-in-residence in Giverny, France and the George Sugarman Foundation Grant among others. Her long list of exhibits include the Williams College Museum of Art, the Museum of the Southwest, in Midland Texas, the Fernbank Museum in Atlanta, the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Museo de Arte Moderno in Buenos Aires. She holds both a BA and MA from Bennington College and her work is in numerous corporate and private collections.
The exhibition is on view through December 11th
Contact: Rebecca Cross 202.333.7970 email@example.com
Digital Images available
From Seven Days: Leslie Parke
Friday, October 7 12AM – Friday, November 11 12AM at Feick Fine Arts Center, Green Mountain College in Poultney.
Contact Info: 802-287-8926
Seven Days Says:
“Chrysalis,” paintings that reimagine the Adam and Eve story, examining themes of shame, expulsion, interdependence and transformation.
In the past, Leslie Parke has painted piles of gold-rimmed china and heaps of plastic bottles compacted for recycling. In her new show, “Chrysalis,” at Green Mountain College’s Feick Fine Arts Center, however, the upstate New York painter turns her focus to Adam and Eve. Her sensual paintings evoke feelings of shame, expulsion, interdependence and transformation, as well as iconic images of the Edenic couple by painters past. “My early work was all about appropriation, working with images from Matisse, Ingres and Giotto,” writes Parke. “Now art-historical references are just the filter through which I see the world.” Through November 11. Pictured: “Androgyn.”
Cambridge Artist receives Gottlieb Grant
April 11, 2011,
CAMBRIDGE, NEW YORK Artist Leslie Parke has recently been awarded a $25,000 Individual Support Grant from the Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation of New York, honoring her extensive career as a professional painter. This grant is awarded each year to twelve artists worldwide who have devoted their lives to developing their art and have maintained a mature intellectual, technical and creative artistic development for a minimum of 20 years.
“Making art is a way for me to both experience and comment on existing art,” says Parke. “My early work was all about appropriation, working with images from Matisse, Ingres and Giotto. Now art historical references are just the filter through which I see the world.”
In her current series, Parke creates abstract compositions from real subject matter, drawn from life. Her subjects – water, trees, crystal, china, recycled bales of paper and cans – become vehicles for shape, color, space and light. She employs monumental scale, all-over composition, and gestures that assert the surface of the painting. Painted in oil on linen or canvas, some as large as 60″ x 70″, her paintings, when viewed up-close, appear to be merely flecks of paint. From a distance, they look photo-realistic.
Adolph Gottlieb began his career as an artist in New York in the 1920’s, becoming one of the small group of artists who initiated the movement known as Abstract Expressionism and achieving artistic and financial success for his work.
Gottlieb had several friends and colleagues who, as artists, were less fortunate. Despite their artistic achievements, they were not able to support themselves through the sale of their art or related work so Adolph and his wife Esther would often help them out when times were hard or when someone was in serious need. It was in that spirit that Adolph left instructions in his will that a foundation be created to benefit “mature, creative painters and sculptors.” Since 1976, the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation has been making Individual Support Grants to painters, sculptors and printmakers as part of Adolphe and Esther Gottlieb’s continuing legacy, reflecting their dedication to assisting individual artists worldwide.
Leslie Parke earned her Bachelors and Masters Degrees at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont, and participated in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. She has been a recipient of the Lila Wallace – Reader’s Digest grant as artist-in-residence at the Claude Monet Foundation in Giverny, France, and the George Sugarman Foundation Grant, among others. Her exhibits include the Williams College Museum of Art, the Museum of the Southwest, Midland, Texas, the Fernbank Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin, and the Museo de Arte Moderno in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her work is in numerous corporate and private collections. Her paintings are currently on exhibit in Toronto, Canada, Houston and Dallas Texas, and Orlando, Florida.
Leslie Parke will be one of 15 artists opening the doors to her studio in Cambridge, New York for the third biennial Open Studios of Washington County in July. For more information, visit the Open Studios website at www.StudioTour.org and Leslie Parke’s website at www.LeslieParke.com.