On downtown Wilmington’s French Street—in two monolithic government office buildings—are two vastly different small exhibitions. In the Carvel State Office Building’s Mezzanine Gallery, sponsored by the Delaware Division of the Arts, are 10 vibrant, deceptively naïve-looking pencil drawings by Geraldo Gonzalez. And in the nearby Louis L. Redding Building, catch minimalist painter Seonglan Kim Boyce.
“The King of Transit”
Gonzalez, the self-proclaimed “King of Transit,” was awarded a 2019 Delaware Artist Fellowship for his highly colored works, some of which are unavailable because they’re traveling statewide in another Division of the Arts group show. Gonzalez, a public-transportation enthusiast and transit traveler who was born in Philadelphia, has been a Wilmingtonian since 1996. His Technicolor drawings pulse with the energy of the buses, trains, subways, and trolleys in both cities that he rides frequently and knows well.
The drawings often include rainbow-like swaths of color that elevate the workaday SEPTA and DELDOT vehicles—highly decorated and placed on colorful pathways—to fairy-tale status. The few figural works are less successful, though there is one striking self-portrait in oil. The exhibition’s intriguing signature image, seen on a poster in the gallery but not actually on view, is a highly intricate meta work that features the artist’s hands creating what he sees.
This lively art seems almost carelessly hung in the gallery’s stark setting. The entrance to the exhibition space on the building’s mezzanine level wends unfortunately through an incredibly dispiriting and unwelcoming lobby-under-construction, filled with heavy equipment and (like most government buildings these days) daunting security apparatus.
Seonglan Kim Boyce
Across a garden-like outdoor plaza is the Redding Building, housing the offices of New Castle County and the City of Wilmington. The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs sponsors exhibitions in this open, mall-like space. On view here, a contrast to a visually busy lobby, is the work of minimalist painter Boyce. At the opening, there were only four paintings on display—with more to follow, according to the artist, including a larger piece. Like the buildings themselves, these artworks are very different from those across the plaza.
Boyce is a highly cerebral, deliberate painter who creates polished gray or blue-white surfaces punctuated by delicate lines and colored geometric shapes that have an almost friendly relationship with the neutral background. Though her surfaces are monotonal planes, they are surprisingly inviting and communicative. The artist says that her work begins with the observation of nature and the recollection of a specific place, which she then reconfigures and refines into an abstraction that carries (for her) its essence.
Boyce’s work has long been seen in Philadelphia, both in the stable of the now-closed LG Tripp Gallery as well as in group exhibitions. She now a resident studio artist at The Delaware Contemporary, the noncollecting museum and art center on the Wilmington Riverfront that organized this display.
A little extra time
Both exhibitions are part of Wilmington’s Art on the Town Art Loop. Gonzalez’s work will leave at the end of August, but Boyce’s paintings will remain for the city’s First Friday events through the beginning of November. Both galleries are open during their respective buildings’ weekday business hours. If you do visit the work of these two artists, leave a little extra time to savor the plaza between the two government buildings. It is filled with artwork and welcoming benches designed by sculptor Rick Rothrock, and the trees, nooks, artful plantings, and sculptures are a lovely respite from their concrete surroundings.
What, When, Where
The Realistic Colors of Art, drawings by Geraldo Gonzalez. Presented by the Delaware Division of the Arts through August 30, 2019 at the Mezzanine Gallery of the Carvel State Office Building, 820 North French Street, Wilmington. (302) 743-8927 or arts.delaware.gov.
Recent Paintings by Seonglan Kim Boyce. Presented by the Delaware Contemporary and the City of Wilmington through November 27 at the Louis L. Redding Gallery of the Redding City/County Building, 800 North French Street, Wilmington. (302) 656-6466 or decontemporary.org.
Both galleries are wheelchair-accessible and open free Monday through Friday, 8am to 4:30pm. Due to construction, visitors should enter the Carvel Building at the corner of 9th and French Streets and take the elevator to the mezzanine.