Category Archives: past

Mira Lehr: High Water Mark

On view January 24 – September 13, 2020

Mira Lehr’s entire career as an artist has focused on the natural world and our relationship with our surroundings. Her residence in Miami, with a studio nestled right on the water, has obviously steered her work towards the waterways and open ocean that form such an integral part of life in Florida.

A “high water mark” indicates a literal measurement for the highest point the water level reaches in a given area at a particular time. However, alternate meanings of the term suggest maximum value in various other sectors of life. It seems fitting, then, that this phrase should be applied to the work of an artist whose career spans five decades, building toward a well-earned peak. Lehr’s recent work has been lauded by critics for the meaningful and contemplative commentary she offers on a timely and contentious subject, the state of our natural world. However, her sense of wonder and optimism about humanity’s ability to rise to the occasion with solutions guides both her life and work.

As an eco-feminist artist from Miami whose career spans five decades, her nature-based imagery encompasses painting, design, sculpture and video installations. Lehr’s processes include non-traditional media such as resin, gunpowder, fire, Japanese paper, dyes and welded steel.

Lehr has affected a new generation of young artists by serving as a mentor and collaborator, teaching master classes with the National Young Arts Foundation.  She has also been an artist in residence at the Bascom Summer Programs.

Join us for the opening reception on January 24.

John Baker: Mind Wealth

November 20, 2019 – January 12, 2020

Artist’s Reception – December 11, 2019 | 5:30 – 7:30 pm

The Mennello Museum of American Art proudly presents, John Baker: Mind Wealth — the captivating photography of artist John Baker, whose work unveils a moment in time where light interacts gracefully among crowds or an individual within charming human-built spaces. Baker brilliantly captures the interplay of human interaction surrounded by highly contrasted shadow and bright light cast onto the smooth metals and the textured brick of city streets encountered during his travels.

The title of the exhibition is drawn from a photograph taken by the artist, which asks the viewer to confront philosophical ideas associated with idealism and youth or materiality and maturity in an art filled space that encourages the same attention to thought.  Inspired by the ephemeral and profound moods evoked in Edward Steichen’s early photography, the soft-focused documentation of urban life by Alfred Stieglitz, the architectural abstraction of Paul Strand, and the high contrast drama commanded by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Baker’s photographs continue a long tradition of considering place and people through contemporary black and white photography.

“On the occasion of our major exhibition with pioneering photographer Edward Steichen, I am delighted to have the opportunity to share the photography of an outstanding local artist, John Baker, who has long admired the avant-garde work by photographers at the turn of the last century, and employs this creative exploration in his own work. Through his photography, Baker presents a wonderful consideration of the splendor of contemporary society with a modernist lens of location. Baker elegantly frames the world he sees, reminding us all to find the wonder in the lives we walk through every day.”

Katherine Navarro, Curator of Art and Education

John Baker is a recognized black and white film photographer and multimedia artist living and working in Orlando. He teaches photography at the Crealdé School of Art, holds a gallery studio at FAVO, is an annual Indie-Folkfest artist at the Mennello Museum and, among other accolades, has won Best of Show at the Orlando Museum of Art’s First Thursdays.

John Baker: Mind Wealth is curated by Katherine Navarro, Curator of Art and Education, Mennello Museum of American Art.

Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flowers

September 20, 2019 – January 12, 2020

EDWARD STEICHEN: IN EXALTATION OF FLOWERS presents paintings and photography from the collections of Art Bridges, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, George Eastman Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, on view from September 20th – January 12th, 2020 at the Mennello Museum of American Art in partnership with Orlando Museum of Art. 

Co-organized by the Mennello Museum of American Art (MMAA) with Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) and in partnership with Art Bridges, a pioneering new foundation dedicated to dramatically expanding access to American art across the country, this exhibit includes 20 photographs and a rare large-scale mural by groundbreaking, turn-of-the-last century artist Edward Steichen. Through fashion and flowers, Steichen presents portraits of the cultural luminaries of the day: actors, writers, dancers, and singers of the early 1920s in intimate black and white photography and seven stunningly grand, large-scale gold-leaf mural paintings filled with portraits of his friends (the creative icons) and their floral counterparts. The murals, In Exaltation of Flowers, had not been seen in over 100 years, until Art Bridges purchased them from MoMA who was gifted the murals from the Meyer family who commissioned them from Steichen in 1910.  Art Bridges supported their conservation at Dallas Art Museum where they were unveiled again in 2018.  

This innovative collaboration between MMAA and OMA is only made possible by Art Bridge’s visionary mission to make collections of American Art more accessible through the forging of collaborations and partnerships with collection-rich museums and our smaller museums in Orlando. The exhibition, Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flower brings the multi-disciplinary art of Edward Steichen to our communities in Central Florida for the first time, through a tightly-focused consideration of his masterpiece painting, In Exaltation of Flowers (1910-13; Art Bridges Foundation) and related photographs from 1906-1923 handpicked for their close association with the murals. The seven-panel mural will be shown at OMA and twenty photographs from the collections of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, George Eastman Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be presented at the MMAA.  The two presentations, together explore the important relationship between the artist’s painting and his early photography, and give an in-depth look at the world in which Steichen made his art.

The murals tell the story of philanthropists Agnes Ernst Meyer, Eugene Meyer, Jr. Charles Lang Freer (Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery of Art), the mezzo soprano and dancer Mercedes de Cordoba, the artists Katharine Rhoades and Marion Beckett, and the dancer Isadora Duncan, along with their floral counterparts, inspired in part by the Symbolist writer Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1907 book The Intelligence of Flowers. The photographs feature the same friends along with multiple images of Steichen’s wife, his most beloved muse, Dana Steichen.

 Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flowers shares multiple facets of Steichen’s early work as a photographer and painter while also sharing a symbolic narrative about his circle of friends in both intimate and grand iterations. The exhibition seeks to celebrate Steichen’s genius in both mediums.

Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flowersis co-curated by Shannon Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Mennello Museum and Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon, Associate Curator, Orlando Museum of Art.

This exhibition and education programs are made possible with the generous funding support of Art Bridges.

Immersion into Compounded Time and the Paintings of Firelei Báez

June 7 – September 1, 2019

The Mennello Museum of American Art is pleased to present IMMERSION INTO COMPOUNDED TIME AND THE PAINTINGS OF FIRELEI BÁEZ. The exhibition will be on view at the Mennello Museum from June 7 through September 1, 2019, with an Opening Reception on June 7.

This exhibition will explore Firelei Báez’s investigations on the visibility and the construction of complex cultural identities within the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora and how these notions are perceived in today’s global world. Her large-scale and intricate portraits of influential individuals and mythical goddesses of Afro-Caribbean history create a contemporary narrative of a woman’s life, embracing the past, and staking her place in a universal future.

Báez is best known through her extraordinary paintings of lush landscaped-figures, intricately patterned tignons, and otherworldly bodies with striking eyes. Here, she considers the reality of ones current social and the historic construction of cultural self in America. These complex, intersectional bodies and symbols alongside large-scale portraits are painted in vibrant, swirling colors, which intermingle time and character. For Báez, “identity is malleable, negotiated,” and given strength by the female body and mythology of her being.

This exhibition is curated by Katherine Navarro, Associate Curator of Education.


Member Preview & Opening Reception
Friday, June 7, 2019
Members only: 5:30 – 6:30 pm | Guests: 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Free for members | $10 for Guests

Artist Talk & Book Signing (FREE EVENT)
Saturday, June 8, 2019
Guests: 11:30 am – 1:00 pm

Swirling Memories and Compounded Time: Curatorial Talk (FREE)
Thursday, July 25, 2019
Guests: 6:00 – 7:00 pm

The Unbridled Paintings of Lawrence H. Lebduska

January 25 – May 12, 2019

This exhibition presents the rare opportunity to exhibit the notable paintings of Lawrence Lebduska, one of the most popular modern folk art painters of 1930s America. Lebduskaʼs dreamlands and invented gardens teem extraordinarily with life and optimism in a nostalgic, uncorrupted style that captured the admiration of the American public.

Lebduska was an outsider artist who navigated the intensifying New York art scene without the academic trainings and institutional tenure of his contemporaries. Competing with the rise of the avant-garde modernist movements that seized the art historical world in New York and abroad, Lebduskaʼs intrinsically painted Edens of bucolic farms, city parks, and remote jungles, which propelled the artist and his work to celebrity among galleries, collectors and museums. Lebduska earned his first solo show in 1936 at the Contemporary Gallery in New York City nearly selling out his works, a show known to have ignited the folk art collections of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller and Eleanor Roosevelt. Lebduska was also included in the famed 1938 exhibition Masters of Popular Painting shown at the Museum of Modern Art.

This exhibition is curated by Katherine Navarro, Associate Curator of Education. The Mennello Museum is pleased to present paintings from the Fenimore Museum; Cooperstown, NY, as well as those from our permanent collection and local collectors.  Lebduskaʼs work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, the University of Arizona, The Fenimore Art Museum, and the Mennello Museum of American Art, among others.

Shifting Gaze: A Reconstruction of The Black & Hispanic Body in Contemporary Art

October 19, 2018 – January 13, 2019

Shifting Gaze: A Reconstruction of The Black & Hispanic Body in Contemporary Art presents a selection of works from Dr. Robert B. Feldman’s extensive collection of contemporary art. The artists gathered in the exhibition have all drawn upon art history, American history, and popular culture to create powerful works that, independently and collectively, present a broad range of concepts about identity, beauty, belonging, and religion, as well as work with deep gravitas around poignant issues of race, sexuality, violence, displacement, vulnerability, erasure, and visibility.

The title is evocative and an emblematic reference to art history and the critical social agency of our current times. Through various media, such as painting, sculpture, drawing, and collage, the Black and Hispanic body (physical and metaphoric) is implied or materializes with subtlety in some instances, beautifully unfolds in others, and in a few, is direct, dramatic, and heartbreaking. The symbolic framework of the Shifting Gaze and Reconstruction helps generate a larger dialogue between the works on view and the specificities of a diverse African & Hispanic Diaspora in our current physical, social, and political landscape, as revealed through each artist’s personal experience and distinctive aesthetics.

The Shifting Gaze, who is looking at who engages perception, seeing and objectification while Reconstruction represents a rebuild, new articulation, and possibly new constructs via a new voice – from the past and projected into a resonant now. The power of this collection, conceptually, formally, across contexts, sensibilities, and interests is the result of the extraordinary vision and passionate quest of the Winter Park collector Dr. Feldman who shares with us an unparalleled visual intellect fueled by his knowledge, curiosity, humanity, and keen eye.

Shifting Gaze: A Reconstruction of The Black & Hispanic Body in Contemporary Artfeatures works from the following artists:

Nina Chanel Abney
Farley Aguilar
Radcliffe Bailey
Yoan Capote
Nathaniel Donnett
Mark Thomas Gibson
Luis Gispert
Clotilde Jiménez
Jennie C. Jones
Samuel Levi Jones
Nate Lewis
Kyle Meyer
Lavar Munroe
Toyin Ojih Odutola
Ebony G. Patterson
Lamar Peterson
Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz
Paul Henry Ramirez
Jamel Shabazz
Vaughn Spann
Shawn Theodore
Mickalene Thomas
Hank Willis Thomas
Carlos Vega
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Nate Young

Exhibition is curated by Shannon Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Mennello Museum of American Art.

Opening Reception

Join us for the opening reception!

Opening Reception
Friday, October 19, 2018

Members-only Preview
5:30–6:30 p.m.

Public Reception
6:30–8:30 pm

$10 for Non-Members  |  Free for Mennello Museum Members

Shifting Gaze Panel Discussion
October 20   |   11:30 am – 1 pm
At Orlando Museum of Art
Mennello Museum Executive Director Shannon Fitzgerald will moderate a panel discussion with artists and gallerists from the exhibition “Shifting Gaze: A Reconstruction of The Black & Hispanic Body in Contemporary Art from the Collection of Dr. Robert B. Feldman”: Radcliffe Bailey, Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels, Mark Thomas Gibson, Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz, Vaughn Spann and Carlos Vega.
NOTE: This panel discussion will be held in Orlando Museum of Art’s Auditorium.

Art Credit:
Ebony G. Patterson, Untitled I-beyond the bladez series, 2014, Mixed media on paper, 30 x 36 inches. Collection of Dr. Robert B. Feldman, Winter Park, FL. Courtesy the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

Our Orlando: Making Sense of Our World & American Youth: Our Future

August 24 – October 7, 2018

Our Orlando: Making Sense of our World features the work of four rising local artists: Sarah M. Bender, Peterson Guerrier, Boy Kong, and Kelly Joy Ladd.  These four artists conceptualize a multitude of relationships within our shared world – ranging from the personal and familiar to the mysterious and universal. In this exhibition, human experience is depicted, varied as it is in its accounts, through figuration and form, in two and three dimensions. The voices and visions of the artists presented here can be seen in a consideration of how we, as humans, relate to one another and our time on earth by reflecting upon their representations of individuality and imagination.

Bender uses humor and the figure to explore both personal and prevailing experiences of womanhood as an artist and mother in compositions that meld time. Guerrier realizes large-scale portraits that are at once penetrating but deny intimacy through mark making to cover. Kong creates contemporary mythologies that function to enliven our notion of seeing and storytelling. Ladd forms the imperceptible, making visible and tactile visions of introspection and our connection to the universe.

Join us for the opening reception on August 24. More information.

Sarah M. Bender
(b. Orlando, FL 1989)
Sarah M. Bender’s compositions reference specific people or are often autobiographical and employ art historical nods and themes, which demonstrate intersections of herself and her indifference towards needing to ask permission for societal acceptance of personal choices as a woman and mother. She often uses hens or chickens as stand-ins or masks as a commentary of concealment and stereotypes linked to women.

Bender graduated with a BFA in Studio Art from Florida State University in 2010. Born and raised in the tourism capital of Florida, she gained both an appreciation for cultural diversity and a longing for a cultural identity removed of mouse ears. Bender works primarily in oils, but has begun to incorporate ceramic sculpture and mixed media into pieces.

There is a Rockwellian sense of nostalgia and sentimentality in my imagery, but surrealist elements create an unsettling feeling. I draw my inspiration from childhood memories and photographs, as well as pop culture and books.

—Sarah M. Bender

Peterson Guerrier
(b. Miami, FL 1983)
Peterson Guerrier paints in a powerful and ambitious style wherein the viewer is seemingly given primacy to the sitter. Yet through this image – its composition and details chosen and structured by Guerrier — the artist has denied revealing what he has seen, the soul and familiarity of a relationship that he holds close.

Guerrier grew up in Miami and attended Design and Architecture Senior High thereafter securing a Fine Arts degree from College of Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit. He works in both painting and photography– interested primarily in extremes, juxtapositions, and duality. His approach to mark making is instinctual and creates figures through the transformation of layers of color and multiplying shapes. Guerrier’s layers employ strokes of bright colors, softer deposits of color, and drips, which may all combine and saturate the surface fusing into a whole. Drawing from Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, for Guerrier, his brushstrokes create a description, a statement, which on its own is powerful, but when related to additional movements and statements, coincidentally build an image- “every physical description resolves itself into a number of statements, each of which refers to the space-time coincidence of two events A and B.”

Beauty is only the beginning of a conversation.

—Peterson Guerrier

Boy Kong
(b. Orlando, FL 1993)
Boy Kong is interested in creating stories — a new folklore of unbelievable lions and tigers described as though they have just been discovered, reported, and then depicted only as delighted and tense storytelling can convey. His works on paper, canvas, and wood all twist with energy where neon or pastel colors serve to enliven or sustain, respectively, that strength and awe. Animals take on human traits and supplementary eyes, symbols that create myth and metaphor.

Kong is a self-taught painter, illustrator, muralist, and collage artist. Inspired by a mixture of Ukiyo-e, Surrealism, Graffiti art, and animal folklore, Kong’s visual style connects elements of these styles with a mastery of color and rhythmic application. In a short time his body of work has become immediately identifiable throughout the media he works in without succumbing to a singular aesthetic. Kong divides his time between Orlando and NYC.

Color, lines, movement and impact. Those are the main points that itch my mind and beat me up when I think about (my inspiration).

—Boy Kong

Kelly Joy Ladd
(b. Tallahassee, FL 1977)
Kelly Joy Ladd responds to themes of light and darkness, cycles that are intended to be introspective and celestial at the same moment. In her assemblages of torn or cut paper on canvas, the artist takes a therapeutic approach to the repetitiveness of her process. Perfect circles are bent or cut to form texture and tone within the works that build up from the canvas. Her intention is to leave viewers awe inspired by the potential of self and the universe.

Ladd is a self-taught artist who grew up in Orlando and graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Liberal Studies degree with a focus in astronomy and creative writing. While she has never been formally trained in the arts, throughout her life, Ladd has always painted or created art on her own terms as well as through creative ventures performing at Disney or writing and editing with, Garden Design, Florida Travel + Life, and Parenting magazines. When her husband became ill and severely allergic to paints and various chemicals, Ladd had to channel her practice in a new direction. Choosing paper, Ladd now rips, cuts, and folds paper into visions of her meditations, connecting these internal pieces to the great wonders of the astronomical universe through name and form.

Color excites me, but I also honor the sleek simplicity of black and white. Even more, I’m enthusiastic about texture and dimension…I love the playful, unexpected and dimensional element that textured paper brings to canvas.

—Kelly Joy Ladd

American Youth: Our Future is an exhibition to support and foster the creativity of Orlando’s talented teen artists. In this exhibition’s second year, the Mennello Museum of American Art will hold a juried art show for which a Call for Art was open to all Orange and Seminole County high school students as part of our increasingly expansive, diverse, and inclusive exhibition program.  American Youth: Our Future aspires to empower rising artists and give them a space to engage in conversations through their art with our community. This year’s artists chosen to be included in the exhibition are Manuel Delgado Ordaz, Miller Georgoudiou, Zoe McDonagh-English, Maria McKenna, Paula Meja, Shannon Song, and Valentyna Willard.

OUR ORLANDO and AMERICAN YOUTH are curated by Katherine Navarro, Marilyn L. Mennello Associate Curator of Education and is organized by the Mennello Museum of American Art.

Opening Reception

Join us for the opening reception! More information.

Opening Reception
Friday, August 24, 2018
Catered by Runway Catering

Members-only Preview
5:30–6:30 p.m.

Public Reception
6:30–8:30 pm

American Youth Winners Announcement
6:30 pm

$10 for Non-Members  |  Free for Mennello Museum Members

Our Orlando Artists Panel

Saturday, September 15
1 – 2 pm

Curator Katherine Navarro will moderate a panel discussion with the artists from OUR ORLANDO as they consider creativity in practice, inspiration, and the stories yet to tell. Join Sarah M. Bender, Peterson Guerrier, Boy Kong and Kelly Joy Ladd as they discuss their experiences in the art world.

Art Credit:
Boy Kong, A Prayer, 2017, acrylic, oil and horse hair on wood. Courtesy of the artist and Gitler &_____ gallery

The Collector’s Passion: Paintings by Laurence A. Campbell

July 20 – October 7, 2018

The Mennello Museum of American Art is pleased to present THE COLLECTORS PASSION: PAINTINGS BY LAURENCE A. CAMPBELL. The exhibition will be on view in the Mennello Museum’s Marilyn Gallery from July 20 through October 7, 2018, with an Opening Reception on July 20.

THE COLLECTORS PASSION: PAINTINGS BY LAURENCE A. CAMPBELL presents the continued interest and art connoisseurship of the Mennello Museum’s co-founder, Michael A. Mennello. His passion further influences this drive to collect in the myriad of people he befriends, including the Keen and Perez families. In particular, these individuals take immense joy in the paintings of the great American cityscape draped in American flags in seasons, and paintings inspired by the impressionists. Campbell’s scenes of his native Philadelphia and New York City extoll his own, and by extension his collectors’, pride in country and admiration for the historic architecture established in the American city.

Laurence A. Campbell is a modern painter who conveys a quiet contemplation of life in big cities during the latter half of the 20th century. His snow covered cities depicted in the style of heavy brush strokes in light and color are a nod to the impressionists before him, building upon the method and making it his own. Campbell was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1939, growing up with the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in his backyard and a few blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Campbell is known to have visited the PMA often throughout his youth, spurring his imagination and admiration for art, which propelled him to study architecture at Temple University. Later, he established his own construction firm. During his time in construction, Campbell also worked restoring art pieces, giving him the advantage of studying the methodology and technicality of masterpieces. From there, Campbell painted commissions requested by clients for recreations of their favorite works. Establishing his own gallery in 1970, Campbell too continued depicting his own favored subjects, scenes of city high rises covered in snow, under rain, and with the setting sun of an autumn day.

With a selection of seventeen pieces from local collectors, this exhibit presents stunning examples in both intimate and large-scale works on panel and canvas. Never before seen in the museum setting, they highlight the variety of city spaces, times, and seasons that inspired the hand of this little-known painter. Campbell emulates the themes and sentiments of Childe Hassam’s WWI flag displays along 5th Avenue and Guy C. Wiggin’s snow drenched streets and their people in New York, bringing in his own ambitions, creating unique compositions that favor an intense and muted palate inspired by the changes in natural light of seasons in the city at landmarks from the great Ironside to Trinity Church and the surrounding 5th Avenue and Wall Street in New York. The individuality of people stands out in Campbell’s paintings, determined as the skyscrapers, standing their ground in the harsh but beautiful weather.

COLLECTORS PASSION is curated by Katherine E. Navarro, Marilyn L. Mennello Associate Curator of Education. The Mennello Museum is pleased to present paintings from the collections of Michael A. Mennello, The Allan E. and Linda S. Keen Family, and Dr. Manuel and Destiny Perez. An exhibition catalog will be accompanying the exhibition with an essay written by Navarro.

Please save the date for the opening reception of THE COLLECTORS PASSION: PAINTINGS BY LAURENCE A. CAMPBELL. 

Member Preview & Opening Reception
Friday, July 20, 2018
5:30 – 7:30 pm

Free for members | $10 for Guests
Non-Member Tickets »

Jiha Moon: Double Welcome, Most Everyone’s Mad Here

June 22 – August 12, 2018

Courtesy of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art; College of Charleston School of the Arts

This exhibition features new work by multi-media artist Jiha Moon (Korean, Born 1973). Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Moon harvests cultural elements native to Korea, Japan, and China and then unites them with Western elements to investigate the multi-faceted nature of our current global identity as influenced by popular culture, technology, racial perceptions, and folklore.

Featuring over 50 works, Moon blurs the lines between Western and Eastern iconography. Characters from the online game Angry Birds© and smartphone Emojis float alongside Asian tigers and Indian gods in compositions that appear both familiar and foreign simultaneously. Honoring traditional Asian arts through her use of Hanji paper, Korean silk, and calligraphic brushstrokes, she plays with iconography and symbols that have been classified as “foreign” such as blue willow china patterns, fortune cookies (which originated in California but are identified as Chinese), Korean fans, and floating dragons. At first glance, Jiha Moon’s work appears as a mash-up of high-and-low brow cultural references. Upon further inspection, slyly ironic and humorous references emerge that are satirically filtered by the artist, who reminds us that our preconceived notion of “others” is not a true manifestation of actual identity.

This exhibition is organized by the Taubman Museum of Art in collaboration with the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, College of Charleston School of the Arts in Charleston, South Carolina. The exhibition is curated by Amy G. Moorefield, Deputy Director of Exhibitions and Collections at the Taubman Museum of Art and Mark Sloan, Director and Chief Curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art with special assistance from Andrea Pollan, Curator’s Office, Washington, D.C.; Saltworks Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia; and Ryan Lee Gallery, New York, New York.

When the Water Rises: Recent Paintings by Julie Heffernan

March 23, 2018 – June 10, 2018.

Julie Heffernan uses the power of paint’s materiality and immediacy in the Mennello Museum’s exhibition, WHEN THE WATER RISES: RECENT PAINTINGS BY JULIE HEFFERNAN. She brings form to the reality of our environmental and sociopolitical problems. This exhibition debuts nine new works by Heffernan.

Heffernan’s work explores the imagery of the mind’s eye to create complex environments. Her recent paintings create alternative habitats in response to the environmental disaster and planetary excess. With rising waters, she imagines worlds in trees or on rafts in which undulating mattresses, tree boughs, and road signs guide the journey. Construction cones interrupt the landscape signaling places to stop, enter tiny interior worlds, and reflect on the human condition—its hopeless activity, violence, failure, and redemption. Heffernan tends these alternative environments to safeguard bounties we cannot live without. In other moments, she names and points fingers to those people and activities implicated in recent calamities of both the physical and socio-political environment. Intricately wrought, Heffernan’s paintings evoke the fantastical allegory of Hieronymus Bosch and the sublime of Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt.

WHEN THE WATER RISES: RECENT PAINTINGS BY JULIE HEFFERNAN is organized by LSU Museum of Art, Baton Rouge and curated by Courtney Taylor, Curator, LSU Museum of Art and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog with essays by Taylor, art critic and writer Eleanor Heartney, and LSU Professor of Art Kelli Scott Kelley.

Julie Heffernan, Camp Bedlam, 2016, oil on canvas, 68 x 104 inches. Courtesy of Catharine Clark Gallery.