It’s all about mood

Tonalism’ at Gross McCleaf

2 minute read
Conte's Rising Tide': Visual vocabulary.
Conte's Rising Tide': Visual vocabulary.
"Tonalism" is sometimes described as a type of landscape painting that uses atmospheric effects to achieve a mood. In this group show, eight different artists spin the idea in many different directions.

None of this art looks especially like the works of Inness or Whistler, although some of the pieces seem more intent upon creating a mood in the viewer than others. So, for instance, David Graeme Baker's Sparkler is at once anchored in reality— a girl is holding a sparkler in her hand— yet manages to achieve a dream-like effect, almost as though the artist is recollecting something that happened long ago, perhaps a scene from his own childhood.

By contrast, the pieces by James R. Stewart and Christine Lafuente are edgier, looser— Stewart is almost on the verge of abstraction, while Lafuente appears to aspire to music. Her pieces are almost visual fugues.

Sunlight slicing through

Ann Lofquist, Tim Conte and Mark Bockrath work with a more traditional visual vocabulary. Their works are extremely pleasing landscapes. Lofquist is especially skillful at turning out small landscapes in a large-projection format reminiscent of "CinemaScope."

Bockrath's forest scenes are beautiful evocations of time and place. Path In the Woods, with its shafts of sunlight slicing through areas of shadow, especially caught my eye.

Dean Hartung's work is similarly atmospheric. The show is rounded off by a pair of "big sky" landscapes by Douglas Martenson.

This was a nicely assembled show, and the folks at Gross McCleaf are to be commended for mounting an engaging teaching exhibition for the general public.

Reed's Irish world

Jeffrey Reed's latest exhibit consists of 30 oils and a trio of charcoal sketches, most of which take County Mayo in Ireland as their subject. The majority of the oils are fairly small (a ten-inch-by-ten-inch format), and all exude a feeling of pastoral calm. The world is fine; County Mayo is sunlit and beautiful; life is good. If you're looking for a happy exhibit that won't leave you feeling lost, lonely and vicious, this is the one to see.

What, When, Where

“Tonalism†(group exhibition) and “Jeffrey Reed: Recent Landscapes†Through September 28, 2013 at Gross McCleaf Gallery, 127 South 16th St. (215) 665-8138 or

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