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GMG Present: Dale Roberts: Activated by Light, Alexandra Tyng: The Architecture of Connection + Larry Day at 100

This present body of work is a deeper exploration into ways of seeing and translating the visible world into a variety of mediums. These paintings celebrate the inherent qualities of each medium, be they metalpoint, gouache, or encaustic. I am moved to return again and again to individual works and themes as possibilities continue to emerge and change throughout the painting process.” 


-Dale Roberts


Dale Roberts is unflinchingly dedicated to color and texture in his signature encaustic paintings and he consistently brings a lively, experimental approach to the representation of his subject matter. He finds beauty in sources as disparate as a gritty urban landscape, his backyard garden, or a selection of familiar objects - scenes that are common and often overlooked. From flotsam and graffiti to cool, colorful tableaus of his studio workbench, Roberts’ artistic approach fluctuates between representation and abstraction. The artist’s fascination with experimentation leads him to celebrate the possibilities inherent in his chosen mediums while the resulting surfaces of the paintings are often as captivating as the images themselves.


Roberts’ studio is a laboratory of inspiration. He maintains a beautifully curated assortment of antique objects - an array of vintage glass bottles in every shape and color, and thoughtfully-placed assemblages that are all poised to encourage future still life scenes. Recently the artist has brought the same enthusiasm for experimentation to metalpoint, a relatively new medium for him. The silvery drawing technique lends itself to the delicate objects that emerge under his deft hand. 


Born in 1959 in Waterville, New York, Roberts is currently living and working in Norristown, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. Within his studio, he continually refines his visual dialogue with nature by documenting the changing relationships of light, air, and color through painting and drawing. He is a graduate of Tyler School of Art at Temple University and AAS Rochester Institute of Technology. Roberts’ work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions. His work has been collected by the Museum of Encaustic Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico; PECO in Philadelphia; Wharton School of Business, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; among others, and he has been featured in numerous publications and reviews.


I find the language of dreams fascinating because as we sleep our minds invent connections that are unexpected, brilliantly insightful, and often humorous.”


- Alexandra Tyng


A viewer is swept into a cinematic world of mystery in Alexandra Tyng’s new exhibition at Gross McCleaf, The Architecture of Connection. Well known for her portrait painting, Tyng is also a skilled interpreter of visual narratives related to mythology and dreams. Utilizing the same technical proficiency as in her portraits, Tyng captivates and intrigues with these more complex paintings. Her perspectival lines place the viewer within the composition, and illusive, yet familiar, worlds begin to unfold.


Tyng spends a great deal of time with each painting, articulating intricate details and rich lighting effects with her distinct painted mark. She is a careful observer and reliable narrator of natural settings and the human figure. Many of her works borrow from the tropes of Greek and Roman mythology. For example, in Tyng’s painting, The Shadow of Abundance, the main character, reminiscent of Botticelli’s Flora, lounges in the mid-ground among fruits and flowers. The setting is a mystical woodland and the central figure is accompanied by an expressly contemporary flutist and a mischievous Cupid.


Tyngs’ narratives take unexpected twists and turns, denying the stability the artist provides with her recognizable painted information. Even in the more straight-forward works, a sense of mystery and the unexpected is present in a tangled nest of wild forest trees or a backdrop that delivers a shaky epilogue. In the end, Tyng takes us on an immersive journey to a believable reality that is steeped in the realms of mythology, the subconscious, and the unknown.


Born in Rome, Alexandra Tyng is a graduate of Harvard University, where she received her BFA and the University of Pennsylvania for her MS in Education. She is a long-time resident of Philadelphia. Her figure and landscape paintings have received numerous national awards and have been featured in major art publications. Alex’s paintings reside in the permanent collections of several U.S. museums including the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., the New Britain Museum, and the Springfield Art Museum; and others have been shown at the Butler Institute of American Art, Lightner Museum, Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia, and Customs House Museum in Clarkesville, TN. Her painting Jet Streams was chosen by authors David and Carl Little for the front cover of their recent book, Art of Acadia. Alexandra is represented by Dowling Walsh Gallery in Rockland, ME; gWatson Gallery in Stonington, ME, and Gross McCleaf Gallery. This is Tyng’s second solo exhibition with Gross McCleaf.


Larry Day At 100 celebrates the centennial anniversary of the birth of Philadelphia born-and-bred, internationally admired artist Larry Day (1921-1998). The Gross McCleaf exhibition accompanies the three-venue retrospective, Body Language: The Art of Larry Day, divided among major Philadelphia-area institutions: Woodmere Art Museum (through January 23, 2022); Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at the University of the Arts (through December 3), and Arcadia Exhibitions at Arcadia University (now closed). Known during his lifetime as the Dean of Philadelphia painters, Day’s work was exhibited in a dozen solo and many group exhibitions at Gross McCleaf, his primary gallery in his home city. Larry Day At 100 welcomes Day back with a career overview of more than 20 works: early abstractions, figurative, and geometric architectural compositions, on both canvas and paper, exploring oil, watercolor, and a range of drawing media. 

“A consummately reflective artist,” as described by the curator of Day’s Body Language retrospective, renowned British art historian David Bindman, Day’s work addresses the important artistic concerns of his day, many of which remain central to our own time. These include jazz, appropriation that was then closely associated with Pop Art, and issues of visual process. The artist’s broad interests drew from poetry, fiction, theater, philosophy, film, classical music, show tunes, and a vast array of image sources. Day’s art also is rooted in the visual constructs of earlier European masters, such as Piero della Francesco, Nicolas Poussin, and Jan Steen, as well as visual motifs from China and Japan. In addition, Day acknowledged the importance to him of his contemporaries, including Henri Matisse, Willem deKooning, Alberto Giacometti, and Balthasar Klossowski de Rola (known as Balthus). Day was well connected with the Philadelphia art world of his time and some of his works are based on photographs taken of himself and his artist friends. He also incorporated imagery from contemporaneous advertisements, editorial fashion spreads, and figures that were reproduced in printed media such as Vogue and Life.   

Abstractions in Larry Day At 100 include Aspen Variations, c. 1960, inspired by Day’s drives while teaching at the Aspen School of Contemporary Art in Colorado from 1960 to 1964. Figurative works include several By the Pool drawings, c. 1968, populated by Day’s friends Armand and Anita Mednick, and The Tua Marrit Wemen and the Wedo: Homage to William Dunbar, 1978, a painting of fashion models, titled to pay homage to the late 15th  - early 16th century Scottish poet. Day’s landscape and architectural subjects include Old Tyler, 1961, a barren winter landscape referencing Tyler School of Art’s Elkins Park location prior to its move to Temple University’s urban campus; and Construction Site, from the early 1990s, painted during the decade Day lived in nearby Maryland. Several pieces featuring compositions of objects that Day kept in his studio for visual stimulation (Blue Bottle, and Apple, both c. 1965) suggest a Giorgio Morandi-like sensibility of contemplation and quietude. 

Together these diverse paintings and drawings affirm Day’s understanding that the extraordinary was to be discovered in the ordinary. He believed that slowing down to contemplate a work of art in its full complexity would be a calming influence in our contemporary lives, dominated as they are by noise and rush. For Day, art comfortably traversed borders of time, place, and emotional content, to achieve the essential connections that artifacts can represent, between and across cultures.