February 21, 2020

In Defense of Painting

Installation view of the exhibition, In Defense of Painting, at Pen + Brush





Pen & Brush is a not-for-profit organization showcasing the work of female artists and writers. They have over 125 years under their belts fighting for gender equity in the arts. Amazing! I am so excited and honored to be showing my work here, and to be part of such a wonderful history. Oops, I mean, herstory!












at the opening February 27


In Defense of Painting
February 27 - April 11, 2020


Pen + Brush

29 East 22nd Street, New York , NY


Opening Reception: Feb. 27th, 6-8pm


In Defense of Painting brings together three contemporary artists, Julia Jo, Samantha Palmeri, and Hojan, who are working with the age-old medium through the basics of form, color, shape, and materiality on a flat surface to embody feelings, emotions, and possibly new ways of seeing. In the twenty-first century context, generations have now lived through the death of painting many times over – yet the medium’s capacity to hold an expression of who we are as humans remains boundless. This boundlessness seems ever more compelling in the internet age.


Each of these artists grapple with pigment, allowing it to dry at various stages of abstraction and, at times, giving way to figuration and from there, animations, all while definitively leaving moments of ambiguity on the surface. Through their invention of forms, viewers are encouraged to enter at their own point of reference, to dive in, to swim, to see, to think, and to feel. This way of painting is a humanist act. It connects us. It doesn’t have to be new every time but somehow it is. Yet, perhaps that is beside the point.


Samantha Palmeri uses personal experiences to inform her painting and in turn “exteriorize our human and cultural interactions” through the examining of the natural, physical, and spiritual world. Born in Staten Island, New York, Palmeri received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in 1996. She has exhibited throughout New York and has been awarded the Arts Letter and Numbers Residency for 2020. Palmeri works with both figurative and abstract shapes to intentionally create ambiguous forms that aim to challenge the viewer. Focusing on materiality and movement, Palmeri obscures the everyday to explore the relationships and forces that pulse through both objects, space, and the paint itself.


Julia Jo uses paint to push against and with the boundaries of figuration and abstraction in ways that are both founded upon the cannon of painting and innovation. Born in Seoul, South Korea, and currently based in New York, Jo received her Master’s of Fine Art from the Parson’s School of Design from the New School and has exhibited across the United States. Using oil, acrylic, and flashe on a large scale, Jo aims to capture the ephemerality of life and inhabit the moments that are indescribable through language. On her process Jo says: “I chase after moments where abstraction and figuration form a necessary companionship in order to cling to this moment when the feeling inept for description bubbles to the surface. I begin with human forms for compositional elements, and through layering and piecing together, the bodily curvatures form a space. It is through an accumulation of numerous overlapping of forms and lines that the finished painting departs almost completely from figurative roots. In the final painting, the forms disintegrate into an all-over weave of visual movements that turn the surface into a spatial experience made up of brush strokes that harken back to the organic forms of the body. “


Using styles and methods that are both universal and timely, Hojan creates works that speak to the interconnectedness of the medium to the space it occupies. Born in Keelung, Taiwan, Hojan received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn , New York in 2019, and studied Communications Design in 3D Animation at Shih-Chien University in Taipei, Taiwan. Her work has been exhibited throughout New York and Taiwan, and in 2019 she was awarded the Pratt Circle Award. In John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, he suggests that “The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe.” Hojan uses paint to create a narrative within space that is indicative of both the artists’ and the viewers relationship to the medium of painting. In speaking about her work, Hojan states: ”My painting is dealing with the relationships of the color shapes in the pictorial space. Those shapes are turned into characters, which becomes the main elements in the paintings in order to develop the relative position in the space and to create the seeing movement by their gestures. They are meant for the composition. Space embraces them, and they become indispensable in it. Viewers, as they feel the space is believable and comfortable, they enter the painting with what they know or what they believe, finding out that in the pictorial space, those characters are extending the emotional space”.


In conjunction with In Defense of Painting, Pen + Brush launches a new initiative, Project Space: Margaret Roleke in its downstairs gallery space. This space is intended as a separate project driven space that will engage the public in more immersive contemporary art experiences. In its first iteration, Pen + Brush presents the exploratory constructs of Margaret Roleke, who creates work that investigates current issues of gun violence and consumption. Roleke, who has shown her work extensively in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, works with small toys, guns, and spent bullet casing in Project Space to explore the relationships and contradictions within popular culture when it comes to consumerism and violence. The artist received a Bachelor of the Arts from Marymount Manhattan College and a Master of Fine Arts from Long Island University, C.W. Post. Roleke has shown work at Spring/Break Art Fair, 14C Art Fair, and Flux Art Fair. Her work has been written about in various publications including Hyperallergic, ArtNet, and Artsy.

February 11, 2020

finding meaning



Samantha Palmeri, Unravel, 2018, oil and charcoal on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

When I titled this piece, a little over a year ago, I pictured unraveling as a breaking apart of things, and it felt like a good metaphor for me. 

So much has changed since November 2018, and I can now appreciate that to unravel is also to untangle, and resolve

I've never shown the painting before, so I'm excited that the timing seems so perfect to have it included in a group exhibition coming up in March in Beacon, NY. 


Loss doesn't equal failure

This is hard to sink in because we are brainwashed to believe we need things that we don't really need, and that we are supposed to want things that we don't always want. We can make our own rules and find our own way of doing things. Things that make us feel most like ourselves. Even if, and especially when, it doesn't make any sense to anyone but us.


lovers
friends
husbands
children
houses
possessions
mothers
brothers
I lose them all
little by little
and then all at once
still
in this sea of loss
I find things
in packing your bags
my lost kimono
and in filling my voids
without warning
the answer
Here all along









February 1, 2020

fake it till you make it

detail of working painting, oil on canvas



This morning I made coffee, put on my favorite Chopin, peeled an orange, fried up two beautiful eggs with butter and crusty bread, which I slid onto my grandmother's perfectly sized Jadeite plate. I even lit a candle. 
A good friend recently said to me, I’ll know you’re in a real relationship Samantha when you gain those relationship 10 lbs. The other day I said to her, hey you’re right! I’m finally having a real relationship. With myself. Apparently it’s going really well I’ve already gained 5 lbs. Cue drum laughter..
Listen, I know how to wine and dine myself
The spirit of self-care has extended into my art studio as well. I am feeling a new sense of freedom and independence. I am no longer painting angsty continuations of what came before. I've decided to paint the joy I want to feel, and damn if it's not working. Is that the expression, fake it till you make it? I'm okay with that. My studio is a positive ray of light, and I've got the comments on instagram to prove it, Lol
I know the world is falling apart and all, and I'm here writing self-help messages to myself, but sometimes you just have to go in the studio and close the door. 


detail of working painting, oil on canvas


detail of working painting, oil on canvas

January 23, 2020

newest painting, as of now


Samantha Palmeri, detail, Turning, 2020, oil and oil stick on canvas, 96 x 64 inches

In just six weeks it will be the middle of March, which will officially mark the passing of a great and terrible year. Great in its enormity and terrible in its finalities. In the meanwhile I will not wish away this moment. I can taste every desire on the tip of my tongue, but I'm here now and this is a good hour of day. This is a good second to sit here and write this. I finished this painting this week and am knee deep in two others just like it.

I'm happy with the new paintings, especially after having not done much work since my solo show in September. I'm so glad I did that show because it got me to see my work more clearly, and to make clear intentions for myself. It's funny that the things I wanted to change in the work are the same things I've wanted to change in my personal life, and I think I am; like opening up and getting less tangled, being freer with the shapes and the color, and letting go and not having it be such a struggle. I'm so ready to keep accessing those things in me to bring to the canvas. I feel like I am turning, and the work is turning, like a piece of wood that gets turned to bring about something new and beautiful.


Samantha Palmeri, Turning, 2020, oil and oil stick on canvas, 96 x 64 inches


To see better quality images go to my website: samanthapalmeri.com


Samantha Palmeri, detail, Turning, 2020, oil and oil stick on canvas, 96 x 64 inches







January 21, 2020

slow painting

fragment detail of working painting, oil on canvas
























slowly I am working on new paintings 
and even though there seems to be no logical space in my life at the moment for luxuries like painting in my studio
miraculously it happens anyway

I haven't slept very well in a while
my thoughts are sprawled out and jotted down on the backs of small pieces of imaginary papers

this morning I wrote the beginning of a poem I may or may not ever finish:

          my left eye is not twitching to the beat of my heart
          I can tell
          because out of the corner of my right eye
          knees up
          feet on the floor
          I can see the pulse in my wrist moving up and down




fragment detail of working painting, oil on canvas





December 28, 2019

You Intoxicate Me



I am getting ready to move, and sifting through boxes of things. I've now gotten all my old journals organized in one place. Maybe I will post a few old poems, but for now, a more recent summer journal entry that makes me happy on a foggy December morning:







June 30, 2019


If I were an ancient Egyptian prince
I'd be buried in a coffin with flowering lemon thyme
so my bones could enjoy the smell
for eternity

If I owned a great big property like I've always wanted
I'd plant fields and fields of it

In the afternoons I'd walk through and be completely enveloped
by the intoxicating aroma

I'd offer every new lover
and even every old one
a bouquet of freshly crushed thyme
to wear as perfume around their neck




November 11, 2019

how to stop overthinking

There are little orchid babies on all my orchid plants.

I'm mesmerized that they are thriving with no concern for my feelings at all!

Completely unperturbed by what's going on in the world. They could care less about the emotional roller coasters I'm on, whether it's a bad day or a good day. They don't care about my new socks or my chipped nail polish, or the teaching gig I may or may not have. They just do what they do no matter what. 

I've watched these things all year, slightly neglected I admit. Even with yellow leaves falling off, clumps of entangled roots with barely any soil or moss to grow in, they still flourish. Regardless of even some basic necessities, they still grow, because that's what they're made to do. So simple and easy.

Orchids are thought to be a difficult plant to keep, but that's a misconception. We think because they're so beautiful and delicate they need extra care, but really they need less. Less humanness, less fussing and overthinking. I wish I could be this way. I'm exhausted from all my overthinking and feeling. I also wish my art practice was that steadfast and unflustered by internal and external influences. That way I could stop thinking about what to do next and just do it.

I haven't worked in the studio in a month, since my exhibition ended, and as usual the longer I wait the worse my mental state gets. I'm aware of course that relief from all the over thinking is to get some artwork done. The irony is that it takes so much work to get to that place of losing yourself in the work.






October 8, 2019

Art Studio Upheaval



I am in the midst of a serious reorganization-upheaval of my art studio. Somehow the studio has become a dumping ground for a lot of shit I don't want to deal with.

I've been going through boxes and piles of artwork that I've been avoiding for over twenty years. Drawings, photographs, journal entries, scraps of paper with scrawled notes and sketches from age 18 until now.

IT IS SO MUCH!

And most of it is clearly like my worst depictions of teenage (and twenties' and thirties') angst and depression. Not to mention postcards, receipts, and tax papers from every failed business and art gallery I've owned or managed. All neatly piled in boxes that I've hauled from one studio to the next, over and over throughout the years.

So, here I am happy to report that I have not only mustered the courage to look at all of this head on, but I've been able to purge most of it once and for all.

Can you say Catharsis?

The memories are there, and of course I'm still the same person, but I don't need the baggage anymore. I have saved a few gems, and tossed the rest.



Tossed
This is a drawing I made when I was 18. Pastel on newsprint, 18x24". My eyes have never been that big btw and my hair has never been that straight, but there it is! It was part of an application for something and I remember the person reviewing it saying to me, what did you get bored by the time you got to the hair? Obviously I didn't get accepted into whatever it was.

Tossed
This was a school assignment from I think St. John's University, ca. 1992. copied from a photograph. Pencil on Bristol paper 16x16". I was damn cute as a four year old wasn't I?! The brown dots are moldy bits from being stored in a basement for too long.

Saved
This doesn't actually look like me either but I do like this little painting. Oil on canvas, 1999, 10x11"



























... self portraits


My mother has often referred to me as stubborn. I used to agree with her but mostly because I liked thinking of myself that way. It implied that I had my own opinion, which gave me a personality, which I desperately craved when I was younger because all evidence pointed elsewhere.

But it has more to do with something else I think. It's not that I refuse to believe certain things, it's just that I need to see it for myself first. I can't believe in anything until I've made up my own mind about it. My daughter is the same way. She won't take my word for it. Maybe it's not the worst thing, except that it does end up taking an awfully  l o o o o o o n g  time to process things.