Rainbow Rococo: Curated by Marilla Palmer: Work by Elisabeth Condon, Barbara Friedman, Lisa Hoke, Steven Salzman, Matthew Weinstein, Daniel Wiener, and Thomas Woodruff

Kathryn Markel Fine Arts is pleased to announce an upcoming exhibition, Rainbow Rococo, curated by Marilla Palmer. The exhibit will run concurrent to her solo exhibition, Orchids of the Anthropocene and showcases the work of seven artists, Elisabeth Condon, Barbara Friedman, Lisa Hoke, Steven Salzman, Daniel Weiner, Matthew Weinstein and Thomas Woodruff. 

Rainbow Rococo is the swirl of a seashell with the optimism of a prism in the sky. Rainbow Rococo catches, holds and exploits moments of ecstasy but with doubt: can we be happy yet? The optimism may be a bit forced, but the colors are spectacular. Rainbow Rococo is generous: it does more than it has to. Instagram will not fully reveal it. Rainbow Rococo is a clown at a funeral - how do we react? Dive in and enjoy.


Artists are generally well equipped to handle alone-time but the pandemic brought isolation to new levels. “The virus’ invisibility strangely allows me to sometimes lose myself in the studio” Barbara Friedman said in a 2020 interview. When the lockdown began - isolated in his Hudson Valley barn studio, Thomas Woodruff, “started drawing dinosaurs. I was not entirely certain– it was compulsive behavior. It could be because I could project emotions onto them.” Faces emerged in Daniel Wiener’s work “perhaps I make them, as Samuel Beckett writes, ‘In another dark or in the same another devising it all for company.’’’  Returning to her Tampa studio Elisabeth Condon found “flows of color release hierarchies of gravity, redefining our living, breathing landscape.”


Elisabeth Condon has traveled extensively in China and “the imagery from scrolls, textiles, and decorative wallpaper conflate multiple time periods in a single surface. Aqueous pours and vintage patterns invade empty transitions, compressing space even further to resemble collage…color and material reflect the location where each painting is made. Acrylic on linen forms a plastiglomerate, and the overlay of décor and abstraction amplifies a mediated perception of nature.”


 Barbara Friedman tends to “start on a piece with a vague idea that keeps shifting as I paint. I’m always looking for the thing that will allay anxiety, the thing that doesn’t need to be interpreted. I’m really interested in the idea of ‘letting go in stages.’ And yes, more often lately, I put one foot in front of the other through a progression of images. What’s interesting to me is that pathways of decision converge or diverge under no set pattern. I see painting motifs as having certain similarities or ‘family resemblances,’ such that two might look alike or function alike yet there are always inconsistencies in function or appearance.”


 Lisa Hoke uses the  seductively bright colors of  commercial packaging with a tendency to swirling, rococo-like compositions. But there’s an edge to this seeming cheerfulness. This is not a consumer’s utopia, she’s conscious of what packaging does to our environment: “ideas of waste, desire and over production into a hyper cacophony of image and pattern, squeezing the air out of the internal space…Early in my art making life, I realized I could use what I know and how I live as source material. For many decades now, my work has operated in the area between discrete object and installation. My materials have always been the overlooked ephemera of our daily lives.” 


Steven Salzman’s work reflects his life of immersion in the New York art world and downtown club scene {Steven and Marilla were both regulars and met at the famous Pyramid  Club} He had decided to become a painter after seeing a retrospective of Abstract-Expressionism at the Whitney. “The urban landscape with its vista of rectangular shapes and subtle modulations of light and color in a space that was both deep and far away, all neatly contained by the rectangle of the window frame.  On the ground level, the city’s grid of simple numbered streets and avenues became his geometric theme park.” Salzman’s use of sparkly constantly changing interference paint is both exuberant and highlights the ephemerality of his urban landscape. 


Matthew Weinstein is a painter whose work is informed by his pioneering work in 3D computer animation and developing visual technologies. Weinstein’s animistic approach to imagery is seen in paintings of living masks, amorous skeletons, and anthropomorphic fish. “By referencing pop culture as well as art history, and by using traditional as well as cutting edge digital media, each painting is a nodal point of the past, the present, and fantasies and nightmares about our futures.” 


For Daniel Wiener “the brain is in the body as the mind is in the hand. And while the head is top dog, its jabbering recedes into the background. As a sculptor I foreground the physical, the tactile, touch, the realm of the hand. I’d thought of my wall pieces as abstracted, reconfigured faces: the traces of other unseen familiars embodying all my friends. My tables are not sculptures of tables, but have a dual identity as places to gather; to rest a book, to share ideas, raise glasses.In my eyes, artworks can create a community, sometimes very small and other times extensive.”


 When the lockdown began, Thomas Woodruff started drawing dinosaurs. “Why on Earth?” my friends would ask. I was not entirely certain– it was compulsive behavior. It could be because I could project emotions onto them. Dinosaurs are almost always depicted as being fierce, could I make them fey? Could they move from their diorama habitat to a grand opera stage? Do they sleep? Cry? Contemplate? Ponder in awe? If so, would they just seem ridiculous? I was completely uninterested in the didactic genre of Natural History painting, specifically “paleoart”, nor was I intrigued by contemporary fantasy movies, where the beasts had but one emotion: RAGE. I have a penchant for delving deeply into imagery that is seemingly rendered impotent, or hackneyed, or forgotten, or in questionable taste. I have tried to bring pageantry to the quotidian.”

The exhibition will run from May 11, 2023 - June 17, 2023. 


Media Contact:
Abbie Knight