Flowers, like children, are tricky subjects for artists. Both have such innate sweetness and beauty that the challenge is to find something to say that isn't cloying or sentimental. Flowers have been on my mind lately as I've been preparing work for a show that opens tomorrow. It doesn't hurt that the flowering trees and tulips in my city neighborhood are particularly lush and fragrant this Spring, too - every step out the door brings a feast of color and fragrance. Most people know Van Gogh's Irises - for the extraordinary price they commanded a few years ago as much as for the spectacular image of strong lusty life he created - but he wasn't the only one who tackled the subject and came up with something unique. Georgia O'Keefe is another familiar in the language of art and flowers. Where Van Gogh celebrated the twiny vigor of a healthy patch of earth, O'Keefe stepped up close and gave us intimate, forceful portraits of individual flowers. One of Van Gogh's important influences was Hokusai, who with other Japanese Ukiyo-e artists made prints of familiar scenes - these irises are an example of Hokusai's keen eye and lovely sense of arrangement on a page. One of my favorite flower artists is Rachel Ruysch, a still-life painter from the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century - this little painting is a poem to the beauty of flowers but with a rich gravitas that contradicts any lingering sentiment. I've included one of my paintings, a spray of tulips in a white vase. Please come to the show if you're in the Philly area - you'll see not only my work (with some of my handmade artist books) but also that of 4 other artists, including weaving, ceramics, watercolors and drawing.
2nd Floor Front Gallery - 1704 Walnut Street, Philadelphia PA 19103 - Wednesday May 4 5-8pm (opening), Thursday May 5 Noon-6pm, Friday May 6 4-9pm, Saturday May 7 Noon-5pm. (The Gallery is in a working architects office, an interesting space located at Walnut and 17th St near Rittenhouse Square)