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Conversations on Color and Abstraction —  September 25, 2015

Martha Rea Baker—–Mary Long—-Daniel Phill

SANTA FE, NM. Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which exists with a degree of independence. Abstraction indicates a departure from reality in depiction of imagery in art.
Who: Martha Rea Baker, Mary Long, Daniel Phill What: Exhibition of paintings When: Sept. 25 – Oct 9, 2015 Opening Reception: Friday, Sept 25th, 5-7 pm. Where: Karan Ruhlen Gallery, 225 Canyon Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501. Visuals & Curriculum Vitae online at www.karanruhlen.com
Karan Ruhlen Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of recent work by three well-established abstract artists from across the country. The exhibition features New Mexico abstract painter Martha Rea Baker, Tennessee artist Mary Long and California painter Daniel Phill. The group of artists is diverse in their approach to abstraction.


Santa Fean, Martha Rea Baker’s underlying theme in her work is time. “Its passage and its effect on nature,” she says. “I seek a time-worn look—the results of erosion, weather, and the marks of previous civilizations.” Whether depicting chronological time, marking the sequential passage of hours, days, seasons or an ancient age glimpsed through excavation, the painting process of adding, subtracting and thoughtful editing is a metaphor for life’s timeline in creating these elegant abstractions. “I’m inspired by the strata of geology exposed in canyon walls and distant vistas of the Southwest.”
In her current series Baker uses cold-wax on gessoed board, mixing pliable Dorland’s wax medium with oil pigments to create a rich and lustrous surface.

Quiet Conversation Diptych    40

Quiet Conversation Diptych   40″ x 60″   Baker

Mary Long was born in Ohio and has lived in Tennessee since the mid-1990s. Following studies in graphic design and painting, she began working in encaustic in 2001. “I grew up near Canton, where there is a crazy-quilt patchwork of rural farms and factories. It’s a juxtaposition of architectural grayness against expanses of happy saturated colors that inspires my work to this day,” she says. Long often begins her paintings with marks drawn in oil stick, over which she applies many layers of wax combined with oil paints. In the latest work I am decompressing, exploring more of the spaces in between. They don’t simply represent topographical maps but also time and space, the painting acts as a ‘slice’ or a ‘snapshot’ of something continuous,” says Long.

Daniel Phill attended Washington State University, Pullman, and received his BFA in 1978 from the San Francisco Art Institute. He received his MFA in 1983 from Stanford University and currently lives in San Francisco. He begins each painting jumping in “with a leap of faith,” he says, that something will develop from his spontaneous application of color and texture. Phill identifies with many of the principles and techniques of Abstract Expressionism, but also relishes the ambiguity between abstraction, figuration and the illusion of space in his paintings suggest light, atmosphere and depth—a combination that makes visible Hans Hofmann’s assertion that “shapes, colors, lines, calligraphic squiggles and use of space always echo the reality found in nature—its structure rather than appearance.” He eschews the neat and formal, preferring a responsive approach.

“The gallery will be truly transformed with the energy of these three dynamic artists,” says Ruhlen.