Mennello Museum of American Art presents “When the Water Rises: Recent Paintings by Julie Heffernan”

Orlando, FL — February 9, 2018

The Mennello Museum of American Art is pleased to present the work of Julie Heffernan in an upcoming solo exhibition, When the Water Rises: Recent Paintings by Julie Heffernan. The exhibition will be on view from March 23 through June 10, 2018.

Heffernan’s recent paintings create alternative habitats in response to 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 feckless activity, violence, failure, and redemption. Heffernan tends these alternative environments to safeguard bounties we cannot live without. In other moments, she names 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.

Shannon Fitzgerald, Executive Director, states: “I am delighted with the opportunity to share the extraordinary paintings by renowned American artist Julie Heffernan, who has long revisited art history and cultural history to address urgent social, political, and environmental concerns in epic scenarios.  Heffernan’s work is provocative, lush, wondrous, and commanding as it lures, seduces, and warns with a prophetic and personal vision that yields a timely universality.  She considers the gaze, the female body, family, home and nature—and most, poignantly in this recent series—water.  This exhibition shares a powerful punch through beauty—a gift distinct to Heffernan’s visual vocabulary and large-scale execution as the micro merges with the macro in daunting other-world environs, yet as recognizable as our own, troubled, threatening, and urgent situation.” She continues, “I am pleased to present this work in Orlando, as we think about water in our own community especially after experiencing hurricane Irma and Maria and the lasting devastating effects on our community and environment.”

As an American painter, Heffernan’s work has been described by the writer Rebecca Solnit as “a new kind of history painting” in her essay entitled “Dandelion Clocks and Time Bombs” accompanying Heffernan’s exhibition Sky is Falling in 2013 and by the New Yorker as “ironic rococo surrealism with a social-satirical twist.”

Heffernan has exhibited widely for the past two decades. Selected exhibitions include those at The Korean Biennial (Korea), Weatherspoon Art Gallery (NC), Tampa Museum of Art (FL), Knoxville Museum Of Art (TN), Columbia Museum of Art (SC), Milwaukee Art Museum (WI), The New Museum (NY), The Norton Museum (FL), The American Academy of Arts And Letters (NY), Kohler Arts Center (WI), The Palmer Museum of Art (PA), National Academy of Art (NY), Mcnay Art Museum (TX), Herter Art Gallery (MA), Mint Museum (NC) and Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VA), and Oklahoma City Museum of Art (OK) among numerous others.

The exhibition, organized by the LSU Museum of Art, will travel throughout 2018, to venues including Scarfone/Hartley Gallery at The University of Tampa, Tampa, Florida; The Mennello Museum of American and Public Art, Orlando, Florida; Palmer Museum of Art at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

When the Water Rises is a collaboration between the LSU College of Art + Design and LSU Museum of Art. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog with essays by curator Courtney Taylor, art critic and writer Eleanor Heartney, and LSU Professor of Art Kelli Scott Kelley.

Heffernan received her MFA in Painting from Yale and a BFA from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Heffernan has received numerous grants including an NEA, NYFA, and Fullbright Fellowship and is in the collection of major museums including the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. She is represented by P.P.O.W in New York and Catharine Clark in San Francisco. Heffernan is a Professor of Fine Arts at Montclair State University.

Please save the date for the opening reception of When the Water Rises: Recent Paintings by Julie Heffernan.

Preview & Opening Reception
Friday, March 23, 2018

Lecture & Tour with Julie Heffernan
5:30 – 6:30 pm

Opening Reception
6:30 – 8:30 pm

Free for members | $10 for Guests
Tickets »

First Friday Tour
Friday, April 6, May 4 and June 1
11 – 11:45 am
Free tour with regular paid admission or Mennello Museum Membership

Free Family Funday
Sunday, April 8 and May 13
12 – 2:30 pm

Extended Hours & Movies at the Mennello
Grab a Hunk of Lightning – Dorothea Lange documentary
presented by filmmaker Dyanna Taylor
Friday, April 12
Extended Hours: 4:30 – 6 pm; Movie starts at 6 pm
Admission $5, Free for Mennello Museum Members



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

Julie Heffernan, Standing My Ground, 2016, oil on canvas, 68 x 66 inches. Courtesy of Catharine Clark Gallery.

About the Museum
The Mennello Museum of American Art, owned and operated by the City of Orlando, is located on the beautiful shore of Lake Formosa in Orlando’s Loch Haven Cultural Park. The museum provides residents and visitors welcoming opportunities to understand and value creativity through innovative experiences with art further connecting it to nature and communal gathering. Our goal is to encourage creative and diverse experiences with art that nurtures audiences while reflecting the dynamic relationship between art and society.  In addition to housing the permanent collection of folk modernist Earl Cunningham, the museum presents temporary exhibitions that feature a broad range of American art from traditional to contemporary practices. 

On view through March 18, 2018, Grace Hartigan: 1960-1965, The Perry Collection and The Mennello Museum Invitational 2018.

View all of our upcoming events.

The Mennello Museum is located at 900 E. Princeton Street, Orlando, FL 32803. · ·


The exhibitions and the Mennello Museum of American Art are generously supported by the City of Orlando and Friends of The Mennello Museum of American Art. Additional funding is provided by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program and United Arts of Central Florida. Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

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Francesca Ascione
Marketing & Graphic Design Coordinator
The Mennello Museum of American Art and Public Art, City of Orlando