The Built Environment: A group show

Kathryn Markel Fine Arts is pleased to present The Built Environment, a group show curated by Alyssa Alexander and Celeste Kaufman. 


The relationship between artists and nature has been celebrated throughout history, with landscape painting and honoring the sublime often being at the forefront of respected art. Even with abstraction, references to the natural world are common. The urban landscape, however, has not been as extensively explored. The Built Environment is a collection of artists who are inspired by the manmade world. While working in abstraction, they incorporate elements of urban architecture, industrialization, and technology that occupy these spaces. Their use of line, color, and form are reminiscent of the geometry of the city, and their materials may be sourced from the city itself. 


Luke Achterberg seeks to blur the line between street art and fine art. Coming from a family of mechanics, he is inspired by classic cars, vehicular adornment, graffiti writing, and Americana. He fabricates steel sculptures and uses automotive paint in a bold palette to embellish them with his signature “SuperSleek” style. 


Mary Didoardo uses line as a design element, masking out spontaneous lines into planes of color before building up continuous layers of paint and repeating the process. The final works have a similar aesthetic to graffiti, and the texture of the surfaces mirror the exteriors of buildings that have been painted, allowed to fade or scrubbed down, and then painted again. 


Joanne Freeman’spaintings are rooted in the architecture and geometry of New York City, and the reductive formal language of modernist signage and design. Her forms reference graphic popular culture, particularly midcentury aesthetics, and the interplay of boldly colored shapes against a stark white background are a nod to the effects of light and shadow within the space of a city. 


Jeffrey Cortland Jones is inspired by the grit and entropy of his urban surroundings, as well as countercultures that thrive in that environment. His “Photosynthesis” series is a collection of small works on paper influenced by Jones’ love for skateboarding. The collages are created with skateboard stickers, forming organic shapes primarily in black and white that have a sense of movement as they approach the white space. 


Noah Loesberg investigates the cultural intentions behind architecture, and focuses in on the minutia of the built environment rather than that architecture as a whole. Narrowing his scope to a smaller, more intimate scale, he finds inspiration from construction elements and interior design details. His drawings emerge from patterns found throughout the manmade world like tire treads or window jambs, while his sculptures use the actual elements as materials to construct the work. 


Gudrun Mertes-Frady grounds her abstract paintings with a geometrical architecture, overlaying fields of often subtle color with metallic lines. The composition appears mathematically precise, but is an intuitive process. Throughout her career, her work has been influenced by her architect parents, constructivism, and the Bauhaus school in her native Germany. The metallic pigments of her paints lend a subtle kinetic energy to her otherwise meditative pieces, and parallels imagery of construction. 


Robert Walden examines the relationship between people and their environment through analyzing concepts relating to time, space, and identity. Not only are his drawings representative of a place, they also encapsulate the physical and philosophical act of mapping space and the labor that it requires. Also interested in the incorporation of surveillance into our urban environments, his work is pulled back to view an imagined location as a whole from an aerial, impersonal perspective.