What I Saw This Summer, Part 4: Studio Visits with Pam Farrell and Steven Alexander

I'm cheating with this post. I actually visited these studios in the spring. But both artists, Pam Farrell and Steven Alexander, are doing such interesting work and I'm not sure when I'll get back their way again--west of Manhattan in New Jersey and Pennsylvania-- that I decided to include them in this summer series. Besides, spring stretched all the way into July this year. .

Pam Farrell teeters between landscape and abstraction, a ground that's rich with visual expression

We start in Flemington, New Jersey, at the studio of Pam Farrell. One of the things about studios outside the City is that artists tend to own rather than rent. Farrell recently built a shedlike structure behind her house. It looks small from the outside, but it's surprisingly capacious within. Farrell has been painting nonstop since she moved in--perhaps in response to the freedom this new space offers after having worked in what she referred to as a "nun's cell" in the attic of her home.
That might account for the glorious palette, too. Normally she works in darker hues (indeed, she's in a group exhibition, The Dark Show, that just opened in Philly). There's a landscape quality to her work--sometimes more, sometimes less--with a tangible surface that comes courtesy of encaustic. You can see more at the Ruth Morpeth Gallery where she is represented, and on her P Farrell Art Blog.

Another view of Pam's painting wall with a different work
A detail of The painting wall, below

The worktable with heating devices to keep Farrell's wax paints molten
The studio, below, with the artist in motion on the little deck

. . . . . . . .
Now we drive about 100 miles north and slightly west of Pam Farrell's studio to visit Steven Alexander in Dalton, Pennsylvania, just outside of Scranton. Alexander lives with his family in the country in a contemporary home that he and his wife, Laura, designed and built. The ground floor, which opens to the back yard, is his studio. It's a large, well-lighted and column-free space that offers plenty of room to work.

Despite the demands of full-time teaching and family responsibilities, Alexander is amazingly prolific. His paintings are geometrically composed and chromatically dramatic. The formal compositions of rectangular shapes allow the color to carry the work. Whether he paints in series (as with the small square paintings shown below) or in a larger format where each painting has its own compositional identity, shifts in hue and in color relationships are the heart of the work. Alexander works in acrylic in a way that looks like encaustic--optically and physically substantial, with a luminosity that comes from the refraction of color through layers of medium (all those gallon containers surrounding his worktable, below).
And did I mention he blogs, too? His Steven Alexander Journal offers thoughtful and insightful comments about what he sees on his regular visits into New York.

. We start with the far wall of the studio and pan the wall, below, where we find the artist (well, I asked him to pose with his work)

The small paintings you begin to see on the right wall are better viewed below:

Continuing along the wall above, we come to the corner, below. Here, two new works propped against the wall show you the new direction in Alexander's work: a large central field that has pushed the other compositional elements to the edges


See that bit of color on the floor? There's a larger area of it just out of view. Alexander works flat for much of his process, and the floor receives all the paint that's squeegee-d and dripped off the canvas
Next "What I Saw" installment: Art and Life in Washington County, New York


Nancy Natale said...

Great post, Joanne! Two of my favorite artists and I love taking a peek behind the scenes.

Eva said...

I love Steven Alexander's work! That line-up of smaller pieces is great.

ESZ said...

Love the post of these particular artists. I am a fan of their work and blogs. They both work in such beautiful layers and their surfaces look so rich. I hope to see both of these artists work in person soon.
Thanks for such a wonderful informative blog Joanne!

Hylla said...

Ah, I miss you two! La shanah haba b'Sonoma - next year in Sonoma, Joanne and Pam!