Gems of the Grenning Gallery | November 6th

Please join us for our annual Holiday Party on Saturday December 6th, from 5:30 to 7:30, which is also our Opening Reception for our Gems of the Grenning Gallery show, which is already on view and will hang through to the New Year.

We will wrap and ship any paintings that are purchased as presents on or before December 15th this year!

We are truly honored to reintroduce Kate Lehman and Travis Schlaht back into the Grenning Gallery fold. We proudly exhibited their work in our early years, and since 2001, they have been busy with their careers, showing and selling well in galleries across America and they have each had several key museum shows.   Lehman and Schlaht have since started a family (with two young children), and spent the last two years in Paris but have returned to their home in Tribeca. Welcome back! 

This comprehensive group show includes a series of brand new Via Reggio umbrella paintings by Ramiro, interesting new still lifes by Maryann Lucas, delightful mountain paintings by Kristy Gordon, serene seascapes by Edward Minoff, a lyrical figure by Hege Haugen, a classic still life and small sketches by Ben Fenske, and recent New York sketches by Marc Dalessio.  We are also introducing the works of several new painters; Carl Bretzke,Barbara Castrucci, Jas Knight, Edwina Lucas, John Morfis and Fanny Rush.

Kate Lehman (b. 1968) has always been an individual within a crowd of talented painters having studied at the Academy in Paris and the Water Street Atelier in Brooklyn.  She has always created original images despite her deeply classical hand, and now she is also experimenting with different mediums.  Painting on copper panels, with oil paints, as well as using acids to oxidize the copper, Lehman is creating rich and unpredictable marks, which she builds into her composition.  Although the technical aspects of this expression are still being worked out, the cover image for our show "Venise" highlights the beginnings of a mesmerizing melding of mediums.  Hints of Klimt's influence on Lehman are reappearing in these works, which we also see in Schlaht's most recent work. Lehman has also been sculpting for years, and we will have three small bronze sculptures here for this show. My favorite is the "Yin and Yang" which is a three dimensional riff on a painting we sold in 2001.  Lehmans's elegant "In Repose" is one of the finest and truly contemporary nudes exhibited here in years, as this classical pose is modernized by the model's armband tattoo prominently displayed on the top arm.  The deeply relaxed figure, in a dark grey and brown ethereal interior, painted in lower Manhattan in the early part of this millennium, recalls some of the other great nudes that marked their times like "Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe" and "Olympia" by Manet.

Travis Schlaht (b.1975) is a highly respected painter, represented in galleries in New York, San Francisco, Cape Cod, and Greenwich Connecticut.  He was also an instructor at the Grand Central Academy of Art and the co-founder of the Hudson River Fellowship.  His work has turned an important corner, which is why we are pleased to announce that he will be having a one person show in May of 2015.  In this Gems show, there are two tantalizing hints at his new body of work with Schlaht's  "Self Portrait" and "Red Suspenders". 

Schlaht's exquisite still lifes and portrait commissions are in high demand, but something has happened this year - we see a major shift. After painting 'en plein air' in Paris for a year, when he returned to his studio in New York last summer, he found himself filled with questions about his next step artistically. As he mulled over his new perspective Schlaht wrote his thoughts and some quotes from other artists on the walls of his studio in charcoal before he started on his "Self Portrait".  He then started painting his friends and colleagues, in various poses and settings.  In a long over due studio visit, we were thrilled by the results of his introspected shift. Schlaht captured the likenesses, honestly and with integrity, as expected...but something else is happening in these paintings. We see an influence of the early to mid 20th century, Klimt and Redon included, as this highly refined classical realist is starting to let go of some conventions. The emotionally compelling faces are enhanced by Schlaht's decision to lose some of the edges and details that most contemporary realists wouldn't dream of skipping. He is also playing with the patterns in the clothing and flattening out planes, as well as introducing stronger colors which all work to evoke the sitter's personality, already exuding from their refined portrait.  There is even a slight nod to the pop artists as well, as the pattern on a dress, in turn, populates the background of one of the paintings.

"Red Suspenders" has a  deep red roughly painted background - it's simple, pure, abstract, and rich in color.  This background color surprisingly reaches down his shoulders, indicating suspenders.  His gaze is steady and hands are relaxed, yet his plaid shirt is completely flat, like a colorform cut out with no shape or form indicated.  Rather than take away from the portrait, these abstractions call attention to the rich figurative painting. "Self Portrait" is an amazingly accurate yet loose painting, on a grey background, not unlike his studio walls.  Interestingly, all of those thoughts and quotes that he had written on the walls make it into the background of the portrait. While we know that writing within a painting is not big news, the effect of the black on grey text behind such a sensitively painted self portrait is unforgettable.  The full body of work will be shown in our spring Solo Show for Schlaht, but please join us for the Gems show to see the first few paintings in this series.

In the coming weeks, we will highlight each of our new painters with a bio and some images, and we look forward to  seeing you at the holiday party! Please call Laura Grenning's cell 631 767 5302 or Joanna Gmuender at the gallery 631 725-8469 if you have any questions. 


Ben Fenske Solo Show 2014 | Article About Grenning Gallery | 2014-08-08

Fenske’s solo show is rich in color and variety, as always, but with an added heft this year, as we unveil his largest painting to date.  Inspired by a visit to Plastov's studio, a 20th century Russian artist in Moscow last September, Fenske painted the physical and emotional anchor to this show, the glorious figurative work “Florence, Olive Tree” which is 67 x 79 inches.This scale of the painting is rarely seen from these classically trained contemporary realists.  Fenske was invited to Russia by the Minister of Culture to join notable Russian painters on a plein air painting trip. After researching his interest in the Russian painters, we have a newfound respect for Fenske's role in this Poetic Realist movement.

Fenske is becoming a linchpin artist, reuniting the split yet parallel traditions that developed in impressionist and realist painting, starting with the Russian Revolution and not ending until the fall of the Berlin Wall. Having trained in the Bougie Studio, which is a direct descendent of Ives Gammel, and the Euro-American impressionist and realist movements, as well as a brief stint at the Florence Academy of Art, Fenske has spent the last several years actively researching and studying the Russian painting and sculpting traditions. Fenske’s bold choices of everyday subjects and rigorous focus on light effects in nature speak  of  the Russian influence, while his meticulous adherence to accurate drawing and appropriate values show his Euro-American influences. Whether it’s a vase of flowers, a nude on a bed, or a dramatic moonscape, we delight in his accurate yet unfettered expressionist brushstrokes.

Fenske’s interest in Russian painting was piqued by his visits to the Museum of Russian Art (TMORA) which is based in Minneapolis, MN, his home state. Filled with some of the finest paintings from the late 19th up through mid 20th century, this museum has set Fenske on an original path, which has exposed him to another family tree of artists that were largely undiscovered in our country until after the wall came down in 1989. At that time, Raymond E. Johnson, an art dealer in 19th and 20th century American Realist art, along with other experts armed with knowledge that Russia had upheld other classical arts, including dance, music, theatre and literature,  went there to search for interesting paintings. Over the following 13 years he built a business and collection of the greatest, yet lesser known, painters from Russia.  He founded the museum in 2002, and Fenske wandered in there shortly thereafter. This is where he first saw Plastov and the Tkachev brothers, who Fenske has been researching and looking at ever since.

Arkady Aleksandrovich Plastov (1893-1972), was considered one of the major Socialist Realist painters, but is best known for his painting “Spring” which is a purely humanist painting of a woman stepping out of her sauna to speak with a little girl (you can see it at tretyakovagallery.ru – search Plastov, there are only two in the museum).  This work is famous because it visually captured a “thaw” in the dogma from the state, and it marks the point at which Russian painters started to paint more personal subjects. As one of the top students from the Moscow Art School, and protégé of Serov and Arkhipov, Plastov caught Fenske's eye with his large-scale figurative work, especially the scenes of village life, painted en plein air. Plastov was initially compelled to paint propaganda mostly, then as the 20th Century wore on, the Socialist Realists were permitted to paint more personal works. Fenske was drawn to these more personal paintings. He is fascinated by Plastov's ability to paint people and animals, inside and outside, under wide ranging light effects, all infused with a sense that the painter had intimate knowledge of his subjects. Toward this goal, Fenske has achieved a lot in this show. This exhibition is filled with paintings that sensitively and accurately reflect his every day life, ranging from intimate interiors, to portraits, to landscapes in and around his home, to a thoughtful and emotional major scale figurative painting created in his back yard. Bravo!

Personalizing a Collection | Article About Grenning Gallery | 2013-12-01

A Fluid Collection | Article About Grenning Gallery | 2013-11-01