Gross McCleaf Gallery
127 S Sixteenth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Current Exhibitions

Ying Li, Ascona, Dawn




Ying Li

November 1 - 25, 2017
Opening Reception: Friday, November 3, 5 - 7 pm

Ying Li, Ascona, Dawn, Oil on canvas, 12 x 12 inches  


The simple vulnerability in being a painter is that one's concerns, convictions, and cares are laid bare on the canvas for all to see. Ying Li's paintings thrive in this vulnerability. Willing to attempt the unknown, Li discovers the underlying beauty of a place by painting it. Each time she begins, Li starts with an initial intention or observation, but she is always willing to set that aside in order to pursue the possibility of painting a deeper understanding of the world in front of her.


Both in paint and in life, Ying Li has fluidity and strength; sensitivity and boldness. She is a rare artist who approaches painting with openness, curiosity, and immense talent. Whenever she paints, she approaches wherever she is with the mind of a beginner and finds hidden facets and discovers new fascinations even in familiar places. A close observer, Li notices the changes in the world as they happen right before her eyes and those patient discoveries inspire and inform her works. The exchange that happens with Ying Li, the subject of her attention, and the paintings she makes takes place over days, weeks, or even years as each painting progresses according to its own pace.  It is through this process of painting that she arrives at works which revel in forms which cannot be predicted and can only be found.


Gross McCleaf is pleased to present Sojourn, a collection of incredible paintings by the artist Ying Li. These works were painted in an array of places, near and far, each one with its own individual light, weather, terrain, rhythm, and mood. Li's sensitivity to the unique qualities of each of these places is readily apparent. Her paintings benefit from the richness of her sensitive vision and we benefit from seeing that richness preserved in paint. We benefit because rarely in painting has an artist been able to balance the self and the subject as beautifully as Ying Li. 

Here, We Are There


Here, We Are There
Julia Clift
Samantha Mitchell

November 1 - 25, 2017
Opening Reception: Friday, November 3, 5 - 7 pm



Julia Clift and Samantha Mitchell paint and draw the places they desire to understand and keep close. Their abstract works begin with close observation, cultivated memories, and initial emotional responses to a specific landscape. Then, both artists capture and transform their visual experiences so that the resulting works are informed by these places without mimicking outward appearances or superficial qualities. 


Clift creates works that begin with a "viscerally felt sense of places she has lived and traveled". Her works begin with plein-air paintings and then Clift cuts shapes from paper and photographs of the same locations - laying them out in different combinations, seeking a visual combination that resonates with her recollection of the place. After finding a satisfying form, the shapes are then traced, sanded out, and painted back in - resulting in a unique combination of direct observation and careful studio manipulation.


Mitchell's work is a response to time spent in the deserts of eastern Oregon and southern Arizona.  The artist says, 

Confronting massive rock formations formed through millennia of cataclysmic geologic violence...I am overpowered both by the immediacy of the feeling I'm having and the impossibility of communicating it. Bringing these encounters back to the studio means translating them into systems that I can work in -- coordinates of physical space, color studies, rhythms of texture - that serve to tether the disparate narratives related to my experience.

Mitchell and Clift's drawings and paintings are situated firmly in the location of their  inspirations. Outward appearances are set aside and visual parallels are created so that the viewer, who has never had these direct experiences, can feel and understand aspects of the artists' affection and appreciation for these loved places. When looking at these works, we, the viewers, are simultaneously here, right in front of them, and yet also there, where affection began.


Julia Clift is a Philadelphia-based artist, educator and writer. She currently teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Fleisher Art Memorial, and Thomas Jefferson University. She earned her BFA at Washington University in St. Louis and studied with renowned Norwegian painter, Odd Nerdrum. In 2016, she received a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Grant. Her writing can be found in Hyperallergic, Title Magazine, and the Huffington Post.


Samantha Mitchell is an artist and writer based in Philadelphia. She was born in New York City and graduated from Oberlin College in 2008. She lived and worked in Illinois, Utah, California, and Oregon before enrolling in the MFA program of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, graduating in 2012. Aside from her work in the studio, Mitchell works as a writing tutor and is the Arts and Exhibitions Coordinator at the Center for Creative Works, a studio for adults with developmental disabilities. She is the managing editor of Title Magazine, a publication devoted to writing on the arts in Philadelphia, and has written for Hyperallergic, The Brooklyn Rail and Brut Force. Mitchell's work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Snyderman-Works, the University of Pennsylvania, and the International Print Center of New York, and is part of the permanent collection at the Woodmere Museum and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.