Saturate your art-loving senses in a group exhibition soaked with life near the salty waters of Cape May, New Jersey, at SOMA Gallery. ‘Brine’ is bursting with a stellar mixture of contemporary artists, impregnating our perception of the American seaside. Themes of landscapes, still life and portraiture, juxtaposed with surrealism and activism. Visual forces challenging humanity to simultaneously reflect upon the emotion of childhood (in Ali Cavanaugh’s whimsical watercolors), the seduction of womanhood (in Kris Lewis’ provocative paintings), and the preservation of Mother Nature (in Shepard Fairey’s striking silkscreens). Unlike salt, oil and water don’t mix, as strongly suggested by the environmental memo attached to the renowned street artist’s work. Typically recognized as the Obey Giant brand, Fairey features in this epic sea of exhilarating talent, forming an eclectic group show proudly curated by artist Victor Grasso.
Curated by Victor Grasso
Saturday, June 4, 2016 | 6-9pm
June 4 – July 4, 2016
Carpenter’s Square Mall
31 Perry Street, Cape May, NJ
Open daily, 10am – 7pm
Shepard Fairey | Bo Bartlett | Greg Bennett | Graeme Cameron | Ali Cavanaugh | Danny Galieote
Steve Gibson | Victor Grasso | Frank Kallop | Kris Lewis | Stan Sperlak | Adam Wallacavage | Frank Weiss
SOMA NewArt Gallery is pleased to present ‘Brine’, curated by Victor Grasso. For this exhibition, SOMA opens its galleries to thirteen selected artists in a diverse and dynamic presentation encompassing a range of mediums and techniques, both expert and unexpected.
Combining the gallery’s mission of promoting artists who have connections to Cape May and the Jersey coast with its commitment to exhibiting world-class artists and enriching the cultural landscape of the region, ‘Brine’ denotes a confluence; an intermingling of tradition and contemporaneity. The exhibition’s title takes inspiration from the brackish waters of the surrounding area, where fresh water from as far upriver as the Catskill Mountains meets saltwater from the Atlantic Ocean. By presenting an eclectic and engaging selection of work exploring similar yet divergent themes, ‘Brine’ offers up a mélange of artistic perspectives in response to SOMA’s seashore setting. From traditional technique and plein-air painting to works crafted from glass and steel, this presentation offers a snapshot of contemporary art practice both in the Mid-Atlantic region and nationwide.
Exhibition curator Victor Grasso wanted “to bring a massive jolt of art and culture to Southern New Jersey, especially to my already culturally rich hometown of Cape May. My goal was to put together a world-class group exhibition at SOMA Gallery and ‘Brine’ delivers with a group of exemplary artists who I’ve had the good fortune to meet and become friends with over the past few years. I want to give everyone a chance to see these outstanding works they have contributed and I couldn’t be more humbled, pleased, and honored to have these artists in the lineup.”
Shepard Fairey, best known for manipulating images for mass consumption through street art, contributes two panels with ominous and ironic depictions of the sea. Noted realist painter Bo Bartlett presents scenes from American life which are as entrancing as they are enigmatic. Curator Victor Grasso also embraces a realist vision, though considerably darker and with a glint of surrealism, in his enthralling large-scale rendering of an octopus. This tentacled organism takes form elsewhere in the exhibition, including Philadelphia-based artist Adam Wallacavage’s exquisite octopus chandelier. Canadian axe maker Graeme Cameron proposes a more mythological interpretation of this sea creature with his elegant Kraken Titanis Axe.
Painter Danny Galieote works with classical techniques and a mid-century aesthetic which imbues his depictions of idealized subjects with an air of nostalgia. A stunning portrait by Kris Lewis explores a similar theme with considerable emotional depth, while Ali Cavanaugh explores the body through the lens of childhood using a modern fresco technique which yields slippery and sumptuous results.
Lending local context to the exhibition are coastally influenced plein-air painters Greg Bennett and Stan Sperlak, both of whom have exhibited extensively with the gallery. Frank Kallop explores moody narrative and academic still-life in his contributions to the show. Emerging artists like photographer/filmmaker Frank Weiss and airbrush artist Steve Gibson also contribute to the exhibitions, infusing additional diversity and talent into the SOMA galleries.
Victor Grasso has mounted eight solo exhibitions with the gallery; this is his first curatorial offering. A noted painter of new American realism, he lives and works in North Cape May, New Jersey, where he began his career illustrating covers for local publication Exit Zero Magazine. His work has been exhibited most recently at the Noyes Museum of Art (Oceanville, NJ), Parlor Gallery (Asbury Park, NJ), and Baker+Hesseldenz (Tucson, AZ), as well as in New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Miami.
SOMA NewArt Gallery opened in 2007 and is recognized as a leader in southern New Jersey’s visual arts community. The gallery exhibits local talent as well as mid-career artists based in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Located on historic Perry Street in downtown Cape May, SOMA’s exhibition season runs from April through October.
About the exhibiting artists in the ‘Brine’ exhibition, curator Victor Grasso comments…
“I really don’t need to say much about Shepard Fairey. Known worldwide for his accomplishments, activism and ridiculous sense of design. I love his work. Bo Bartlett is one of my favorite painters and storytellers. He is one of the greatest contemporary realists of our time. Rich in allegory, his work is always inspiring. Greg Bennett is a tremendous painter. His work is creamy and lush. I love his palette and his strokes, very masterful. Every time I see a new creation by Graeme Cameron, inspiration beats me in the head. His work is truly beautiful, perfect form and function.
Ali Cavanaugh creates hushed yet luminous watercolor frescos using dozens of layers of pigment in her renderings of childhood and wonder. I love watercolor, and no one does it like Ali. Danny Galieote’s work has weight. It oozes post war coolness and nighttime noir deviance. Danny is an incredible painter and all-around great guy, super inspiring. Steve Gibson is an incredible painter, we have been friends for many years and I’m always inspired by his search and experimentation with mediums, application, and surface. What he creates on metal is insane. Frank Kallop is a great painter who weaves in and out of many styles. Deeply rooted in traditional academics, he’s not afraid to completely throw it out the window and venture into bizarre territories, which I love.
Kris Lewis’ work is super tight and has the perfect amount of realism, quirk, and edge. My favorite elements of a painting. He’s exceptional and always inspiring. Stan Sperlak’s pastels are lustrous, rich, deep, and luminous. Many of his landscapes walk the line of realism and abstraction with huge blocks of layered pigment sliced through with horizons, oceans, clouds, and trees. Everything Adam Wallacavage does is art, from his house to his photography to his illuminated sea creatures. I’m always inspired after hanging with Adam. Frank Weiss is an incredible photographer, filmmaker, and artist. His ingenuity and talent have taken him from film festivals to foreign lands.”