Great Big Pedal After-Party 2019June 5, 2019
Amy DuvalAugust 25, 2019
Exhibition runs July 23—September 14, 2019
Closing reception: September 13, 2019 from 6-8pm.
This Perfect Day is an exhibition of paintings by artists and family members Phyllis Plattner, Jessica Plattner, and Dean Smale. Named after Ira Levin’s 1970 dystopian novel, this exhibition explores different aspects of societal anxiety, ranging from war to climate change to existential doubt. With a broad range of styles, the paintings are connected by a common thread of social and political observation, supported by a deep commitment to the craft of painting.
Phyllis Plattner was born in Queens, NYC in 1940. She earned a BA in art from Bennington College in Vermont, and an MFA in painting from Claremont Graduate School in California. She has been the recipient of many grants and awards, including several Maryland State Arts Council Grants, three Marcella Louis Brenner Development Grants from Maryland Institute College of Art, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and the Mayor’s Award for the Arts in St. Louis. A beloved and distinguished educator, Phyllis taught painting and drawing at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore and Washington University School of Art in St. Louis. She currently lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband, anthropologist Stuart Plattner.
Chronicles of War, a series of multi-panel paintings, is a reflection on the unfathomable and tragic ubiquity of warfare throughout history. At the same time it is also a reflection on the contrasting, equally powerful drive toward harmony, beauty and peace. All the images in the paintings, whether depictions of violence or peace, are quoted directly from art history and photojournalism; none of the images is my own. What is mine is the bringing of them together, accumulation, repetition and reiteration of similar actions taking precedence over any single event or depiction, the juxtaposition of opposing ones offering a disquieting contrast.
Each painting has a unique theme depicted in the central image and named in the title. The subsidiary images repeat and reflect the theme imagistically, conceptually and aesthetically. In format the paintings are based loosely on Renaissance altarpieces, consisting of multiple panels symmetrically arranged and framed with decorated gold leaf borders. The symmetry allows for pairings of images, creating echoes and contrasts. The visual reference to religion, along with evoking a sense of spiritual harmony, calm and beauty through the use of decoration and gold leaf also speaks to the alarming basis of so many wars throughout history fought in the name of God, under the auspices of religion.
Jessica Plattner, daughter of artist Phyllis Plattner, was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1972. She earned a BFA from Washington University School of Art in St. Louis (currently the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts), and an MFA from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and Temple Rome, Italy. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Mexico, as well as scholarships for artist residencies at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has been shown in the USA, Canada, Mexico, and Italy, with recent solo exhibitions at the Art Gallery of St. Albert, the Okotoks Art Gallery, and the Esplanade Art Gallery in Medicine Hat. She currently teaches art at Medicine Hat College and maintains a studio at the Hive Artists’ Hub. She lives in Medicine Hat with her spouse, artist Dean Smale, and their daughter Sofie.
As an American artist who has lived extensively in Mexico, the USA, Canada, and Italy, I am interested in international borders and their political, social, and environmental impacts. My work is also influenced by other literal and metaphorical boundaries: the paintings themselves cross various artistic borders to establish residency in a no-man’s land between fact and fiction, natural and manufactured, past and present.
Since moving to Alberta five years ago, my work has used the local landscape as a meeting place for contrasts. In my paintings, military planes defend and violate geopolitical territories, while wild animals and birds unknowingly cross these borders. Environmental disasters appear side-by-side with tranquil scenes, and native plants and animals meet with invasive species from around the globe. The paintings also contain painterly and formal contradictions, such as representation coexisting with abstraction, and flat colour giving way to deep space. Trompe l’oeil depictions of tape and paper appear to stick to the surface, occupying a completely different reality from the rest of the canvas. These contradictory treatments of paint, space, and imagery all come together to form a complex visual world with multiple possible interpretations. In the end, my work bridges the border between anxiety and hope: fears about war, climate change, and political disarray are balanced by the wonder and immediacy of the visual world, allowing for meaning even in dark times.
Dean Smale, son-in-law of artist Phyllis Plattner, was born in Edmonton in 1964. He earned an MFA from the University of Calgary, and has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Canada and the USA. Smale has been an instructor and artist lecturer at various educational institutes and galleries, including College of the Rockies, Eastern Oregon University, Red Deer College, and Medicine Hat College. Previously he worked as a practicing artist in London, England, and in 1998 he participated in the Susan Kasen-Summers Workshop in Bantam, Connecticut. Smale has been awarded grants from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, University of Calgary and the University of Alberta, and CBC National Television presented a documentary on his work for Artspots in 2005. His paintings are held in public and private collections in the USA and Canada. Smale lives in Medicine Hat with his spouse, artist Jessica Plattner, and their daughter Sofie.
My work explores aspects of human existence, spiritual crisis, and the anxiety that arises out of one’s own understanding of mortality. The paintings in this show represent multiple states of being, divergent moments in time, conflicting memories of events, and the relationship between the spiritual and the physical realms and all that it implies from the extramundane to the mundane, and the absurdity of existence.