New Art by Ashley Chase Andrews, Gregg Welz, and John BonSignore
Featured at the Lionheart Gallery
May 15, 2016, through July 3, 2016
April 25, 2016, Pound Ridge, New York:
The Lionheart Gallery is pleased to announce two art exhibitions opening in May. Impulse showcases large-scale abstract paintings by Ashley Chase Andrews that reference history and culture through adventurous mark making and bold lush color. Paper Cuts, a collection of new compositions by Gregg Welz, highlights smart geometric shapes and patterns created through intricately cut and folded paper. Tri-state area residents and visitors can see these two shows at the Lionheart Gallery at 27 Westchester Avenue in Pound Ridge, New York, from May 15, 2016, through July 3, 2016. The exhibitions will open with a reception on May 15 from 3 PM to 6 PM, which will feature talks by both artists beginning at 5 PM.
Coinciding with these exhibitions is the installation of elegant new metal sculptures at the Lionheart Gallery and grounds. From the Toe Dancer series by John BonSignore, these refined figures depict graceful, joyful ballerinas in stainless steel.
Ashley Chase Andrews, Impulse
Currently based in North Salem, New York, abstract artist Ashley Chase Andrews was raised in Santa Monica and credits her Californian upbringing with sparking her love of freedom and adventure. “I was never afraid,” she says. “No fear. I was a risk taker.” In her new exhibition Impulse, the artist showcases large expressive paintings that exude the thrill of discovery in the natural world as well as the internal, private worlds of imagination, emotion, and memory.
“I am interested in blending landscape, by making large shapes and integrating them with mark making, eliminating the horizon line, and painting to the edges of the canvas,” Andrews muses, adding that she is thinking formally at all times. “Painting for me is the freedom of making marks, trying to discover the balance of line, color, volume, and personal strokes, and trying to compete with and absorb the soul of The Greats.” She refers to the likes of Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg, Willem de Kooning, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, to name but a few of her artistic influences.
Andrews begins with unstretched canvas tacked to her studio wall and proceeds to draw with charcoal or oil sticks and paint in acrylic or oil. She works big, she works fast, and she spontaneously responds to whatever color or marks she is using at the moment, constantly building up and reworking layers. The artist often writes and draws directly on the canvas, incorporating symbols, shapes, and personal messages: numbers, words, foods, places, political events. Like partially obscured graffiti, these are half-covered with more layers of paint so the effect is the odd phrase or recognizable image half emerging from fields of line and color. The resulting dreamscapes merge the current with the past, the historical with the present.
Even when created in a series, each Andrews composition is eclectic and fresh in its own way. The works in Impulse features the artist’s wide variety of marks. Drips, scribbles, cross hatches, handprints, circles, streaks, and parabolas join forces with wide thick brushstrokes and swatches of vibrant colors that pulse from cooler toned backgrounds: hot sunset pink, neon aqua, glowing mauve and tangerine. The paintings on view include the Handwriting series; in Handwriting/ Florida/ Lincoln Road, Andrews creates a visual feast by enhancing broad swatches of warm lavender and rosy grey with playful paint drips, passionate streaks in poppy orange, and energetic charcoal lines suggestive of an interior here, a word there.
These paintings are sensory as well and hark to Andrews’ love of travel and exploration. Nature is a huge part of her life; the ocean in particular is important to this artist, and she has spent much time swimming in the surf. She has also been inspired by locations like Florida, Africa, Mexico, and the Caribbean as well as her native West Coast. Her creativity is fueled by sights, sounds, jewelry, rugs, spices, colors of walls, the ancient fading of the towns and cities, and of course the hues of the sea.
When asked what she finds most compelling about Andrews’s paintings, Lionheart Gallery Director Susan Grissom replies, “I love her sense of liberation and fierceness. Watching Ashley sketch out a study on newsprint and charcoal, I have felt the exciting spontaneity of her work. Her color palette and the elements she adds are always a wonderful surprise.”
Gregg Welz, Paper Cuts
Gregg Welz, a lifelong resident of Norwalk, Connecticut, is a conceptual artist who configures cut and folded pieces of drawing paper into repeating patterns, creating gradations of light and cast shadow. From early watercolor lessons at the age of twelve to an art and design education at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, Welz has continued to experiment artistically. He notes that his imagination is influenced by geometries found throughout the environment, both natural and man-made.
“I am drawn to this abstract process as a means of expressing the visual symmetry around me: architecture, water patterns, or stone walls, for instance,” says Welz of his cut paper practice, citing Sol LeWitt and Louise Nevelson among his sources of inspiration. “Using the grid confines or contains the composition to its singular space; I envision the boundaries broken through to infinite scale.”
Utilizing paper with texture and weight is important to the artist; he likes the tactile feel of it. While he sometimes works in colored papers—rich crimson, Mediterranean azure blue—many of his recent pieces are minimalist confections of white on white. The work is delicate yet crisp, the patterns graceful and angular, as intricate as a classical symphony and as elegant as pleats in couture fashion.
The folds of the paper in these three-dimensional works form shadows that make one more layer of pattern and color; even in the monochromatic compositions, the shadows cast a variety of shades. “When I first created the paper cuts series, shadows were a pleasant after effect,” Welz notes. “As my work develops, I look forward to what the shadows may reveal.”
Some of the artworks in Paper Cuts are more elaborate than others; indeed, Welz compares cutting paper to preparing a palette of mixed paint, and his studio tools are blades instead of brushes. He then lays out the grid and completes each square, over and over. Each piece of paper has been scored, cut, folded, and affixed with a riser; completion can take several weeks of repetitious practice. The artist enjoys viewers’ reactions to his work and is often queried on his patience.
Paper Cuts includes works such as Up and Over, a perfect square composed of 169 smaller squares, each its own tile of origami-like folds. The detailed shapes Welz has folded into the creamy white paper conjure endless associations: tiny kites, ornate frosting roses, snowy peaks, experimental architecture, spinning pinwheels, scales on a pale fish, or facets in a diamond.
“Gregg is like an architect of paper,” says Lionheart Gallery Director Susan Grissom. “He builds complex works that draw you in to explore the textures, the patterns, and the shadows. They are sophisticated and contemplative, and I admire the patient and inventive mind it takes to create such complicated beauty.”
Simultaneously stimulating and meditative, Welz’s cuts and creases form individual universes that are nuanced when seen from any focal point. Viewers will find something new to contemplate with each look.
On View and Related Programming
Impulse and Paper Cuts will premier with an opening reception at the Lionheart Gallery on May 15, 2016, from 3 PM to 6 PM. Visitors are invited to attend talks by both artists beginning at 5 PM. The exhibitions run through July 3, 2016.
John BonSignore, Toe Dancers
Visitors to the Lionheart Gallery will also enjoy the opportunity to view John BonSignore’s graceful sculptures, newly installed on the gallery’s grounds. BonSignore is a New England sculptor who has been exhibited and collected around the world. His works begin with a broad concept—a place or person, an animal or emotion—which he then pares down to find the unique essence of each subject and coax it to shine through. These refined stainless steel sculptures from his Toe Dancer series employ a continuous line to capture the moment of movement and gesture in ballerina’s poses: smooth, precise, flowing, and imbued with pure joy.
The Lionheart Gallery is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, from 11 AM to 5 PM, and Sundays from 12 noon to 4 PM. For more information and directions to the gallery at 27 Westchester Avenue in Pound Ridge, New York, visit www.thelionheartgallery.com or call 914.764.8689.