Mixed Media: Made of steel

"Materials in Space" exhibit Closing Reception at the Blue Streak Gallery

Last Friday,  Pennsylvania Made of Steel exhibition held a reception at The Hill School Center for the Arts. The drive to The Hill School set the stage for the exhibition, which paid homage to the steel industry either directly, through Grutzka’s industrialist city scapes depicting the smokestacks of the steel mills, or indirectly through the use of steel as a medium used to execute work that divorced itself entirely from the theme.

Pottstown serves, as do many Pennsylvania towns, as a relic to the days of the steel industry. Some towns, more than others, were economically devastated by switch from domestic steel production, to outsourced international steel production. The quaint row homes and narrow streets harken back to the early-mid twentieth century. As we drove through town we wound up towards the bucolic Hill School.

Painting by exhibit curator Karen Delaney

The exhibition was well attended, with artists, and guests mingling among the freestanding sculptures of Katee Boyle, David Haines, and curator, Karen Delaney. Delaney exhibited sculpture as well as paintings, both mimicked each other, and illustrated how the same concept can be expressed through a variety of media.

“My sculpture references architecture, botanical forms, and the human figure but are not necessarily representational of any particular one,” Karen states in her artist biography for the exhibition, “In this way the sculpture offer something totally new. They are a product of my fascination with the tensions and harmonies created by manipulating form, space and line.” This fascination between the tug of war is evident literally in her portrayal of stark, angular forms alongside soft, rounded objects as well as her use of such an unforgiving, and cold material ( “steely” as a negative adjective exists for a reason!) Her pieces in this exhibition, focus on a particular architecture theme which becomes evident as you read through her artwork titles, “Doppel Tower”, “Parmalee Tower,” “Jenga Tower,” “Rex Tower”, “Tower with Green Sphere,” and “Tower in the Sun”.

David Haines’ work which, in contrast to Delaney’s, focuses aesthetically on the  sharp, clean elements of steel to create font based work like, “A Thin Line,” which reads as a painting and sculpture simultaneously. His work leans towards pop aesthetics of bright colors, minimalist structures.

Sculpture by Katee Boyle

Katee Boyle’s work, which occupied the center of the room, as well as adjacent wall space, tells part of a larger story. One of her sculptures, in particular, “Evidence, Egas Moniz Dress, Childs Fit,” is part of a larger series entitled “Her Emancipation,” which tells the story of the evolution of the collective “Her,” as she sheds metaphorical, and even more literal skins/clothes. She then references this sculpture in her large wall painting, “Form”. Boyle works out of her studio, Scarlett Forge in Kennett Square, PA.

These modern sculptors, which have manipulated the steel medium to create meaningful work, inspired by their own themes, is set against the backdrop of Klaus Grutzka’s paintings. Grutzka grew up in Germany, and in the sixties he and his wife emigrated to the United States. “Grutzka has a unique talent and  deep passion for depicting the steel mills of Pennsylvania in his art.” In addition to providing the work that highlight  literal theme of the exhibition,  Grutzka was also a former faculty member at The Hill School. His work featured the steel companies of Phoenixville, Bethlehem, and Coatesville. This exhibition will be up through May 24th, so stop by and check it out!

For more in the realm of Steel, Blue Streak Gallery will be hosting the closing reception for “Materials In Space,” on March 29th from 5 to 8 p.m. at the gallery. Artists include Lele Galer, Jeff Bell, Rob Sigafoos, Stan Smokler, and Bill Spiker.  Lele Galer noted “it is always such an honor to show my metal sculptures with such incredibly talented metal artists! It is particularly humbling to show my work alongside my metal teacher and mentor Stan Smokler, who coordinated the exhibit. Rob Sigafoos is also in the show, and he is teaching me blacksmithing – he is so talented and generous with his time! The closing is in lieu of the opening that was snowed out – come out and join us for a fun time with great sculpture, wonderful people and delicious Galer Estate wines!”

Next week, tune into Art Watch Radio WCHE 1520AM as John Chambless interviews April Heather who specializes in pro-women’s issues and positive body image artwork for women. Her studio is actually in Mala Galleria in Kennett Square, PA. So, while you’re taking in the show at Mala, you may be able to catch a glimpse of her working in the room just behind the counter! Tune in from 1 to 1:30 p.m. on April 4th. Until next time!

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About Caroline Roosevelt

Caroline​ ​Roosevelt​ ​is​ ​a​ ​writer​ ​and​ ​artist​ ​based​ ​in​ ​Kennett​ ​Square,​ ​PA.​ ​She​ ​received​ ​her​ ​B.A.​ ​in Art​ ​History​ ​from​ ​Connecticut​ ​College​ ​and​ ​a​ ​Post​ ​Baccalaureate​ ​certificate​ ​from​ ​Pennsylvania Academy​ ​of​ ​Fine​ ​Arts.​ ​She​ ​has​ ​previously​ ​written​ ​art​ ​coverage​ ​in​ ​Seattle,​ ​WA​ ​and​ ​Philadelphia, PA.​ ​She​ ​currently​ ​co-hosts​ ​Art​ ​Watch​ ​radio​ ​on​ ​1520​ ​WCHE.

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