‘Color Wars’ (or gender wars?) at Schmidt Dean

Oh, men! Oh, women!

Do men and women use color differently in abstract art? Chris Schmidt contends that women artists use color as a show of strength, while men are more tonalists than colorists— and since this is the 25th anniversary of his Schmidt Dean gallery, who am I to argue with him?

Scott's 'Yvon's Garden': Quick brushstrokes, gentle breezes.

Suffice it to say that I think the jury is still out on these issues. How about gay, lesbian, trans-gender artists? Where do they fit in? I think I’ll pass and just enjoy the pulsating, tactile colors in paintings and sculpture by 12 excellent artists while pondering the reality of “Color Wars.”

Bill Scott’s oil painting, Yvon’s Garden (2012), is a medley of warm tones, recalling flowers in bloom, a gentle breeze moving leaves and grass in progression, background and foreground, in quick brushstrokes.

Anne Seidman’s three abstract, patterned paintings on panel merit a concentrated viewing. Their compositions seem so well resolved that they generate a feeling of satisfaction. “Yes, they should be like this,” you find yourself thinking. You follow the passage of colors and you form the same conclusions.

Stephen Estock’s Soft Rain (2013) is a lyrical portrayal of a remembered moment in time. His nuanced brush strokes create an atmospheric distillation of an evening that can linger in one’s memory.

Abstraction has many facets: Ted Larsen’s Freely Rigged (2013) is a geometric, balanced pattern of salvage steel and rivets. When it’s juxtaposed with his dynamic abstract sculpture, Popular Mechanics (2011), it seems to set the gallery in motion.

Michael Kessler’s Forcefield (2013) is a stabilizing, vertical composition in deep reds and white. It’s the only acrylic painting in the exhibition, but it retains an outstanding vitality.

Each of the 12 artists in this show deserves a closer look. Michael Gallagher’s Five Crowns (2013) is a medley of tones in a quiet rhythm, and Jan Baltzell’s Untitled (2013) creates a captivating symphony of subtle patterns in a harmony of strength.

But do these 12 artists actually differ by gender in their usage of color? Is gender the primary factor? It’s a provocative thesis, but does it have validity? You have until January 11 to formulate your own conclusions.

Our readers respond

E. Sherman Hayman

of Center City/ Philadelphia, PA on December 03, 2013

Once again, Ms. Fabbri manages to entice us with her descriptions of "Color Wars," and without buying into the show's thesis. Sounds like the perfect show to visit during this holiday month.

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