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Celia Reisman: Side Streets, Back Roads

Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to host a solo exhibition with gallery artist, Celia Reisman. This selection of new works features Reisman’s primary subject matter, the architectural landscape of the suburbs and rural scenes. As the exhibition title suggests, Reisman collects her imagery on the side streets and back roads near her seasonal residences in Philadelphia and Vermont.

As a dedicated formalist, Celia Reisman is a life-long student of both the historical and contemporary conventions of painting. Her works can be described as specific places of nameable objects, as well as a rectangle filled with abstracted arrangements of carefully orchestrated colors and shapes. Each aspect of the composition plays a role in directing movement across the scene as Reisman’s intuitive sense of relationships between manmade and natural forms build rich images that unfold full of surprises, humor, and mystery.

Reisman often uses her car as a roaming studio, documenting small sections of suburban landscapes that engage her interest. Utilizing her drawing skills and employing a surprising use of color and space, the artist works to maintain the special details that originally caught her attention while honoring the entire observable scene. She develops each painting over time, altering and adjusting the geometry and proportions within, to find the right harmony while paying homage to the location. Thus, a complete painting unfolds, balancing observed documentation with memory and invention in pursuit of a personal interpretation of the everyday world she sees.

Reisman grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio and lives and works in Merion, Pennsylvania and Strafford, Vermont. She received her MFA from Yale University and her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University. She has been represented by Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia for more than thirty years and is also represented by Paul Thiebaud Gallery in San Francisco. She has received prestigious awards and opportunities including, a Hassam, Speicher, Betts, and Symons Purchase Prize through the American Academy of Arts and Letters Invitational Exhibition in New York City and a solo survey exhibition at the Michener Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Reisman has been a Visiting Critic and taught at art departments across the northeastern United States and in Italy.


I’m not intending to celebrate human logic or achievement. Rather, what nature will achieve little by little, layer by layer…

-John Greig Jr.

John Greig Jr. presents small sculptures created from wood, plaster and graphite in his first solo exhibition with Gross McCleaf Gallery. While his work boasts a strong architectural design, Greig’s interests reach beyond formal considerations as he contemplates global climate change and the human perspective of geological time in his models.

Each sculpture begins with a series of meticulous, schematic drawings that serve to organize Greig’s initial ideas. Typically, a manipulated wood element of milled or raw timber constitutes the base of a sculpture. Next, plaster, also known as gypsum, is slowly deposited in layers within a mold that sits atop the base. A striated pattern appears, defined by varying amounts of incorporated graphite, depicting sedimentary layers of earth and rock. The emergent mortar-like structure complements the organic wooden component, forming the artist’s final abstract piece.

Greig’s sculptures are intimate in scale (less than twelve inches in any direction), proportions that prompt more immediate and personal ruminations than the industrial feats of human engineering their structures call to mind. His works prophetically allude to a future time when today’s cities are beneath earth and ocean. In Greig’s world, continuous and unpredictable environmental changes persist despite the planet being dominated by a single technological species. He considers this an idea worth holding onto with humility, comfort, and peace.

Greig received a Certificate from Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and attended Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in 2008. He has exhibited his work extensively in solo and group shows and is presently the sculpture shop manager and a faculty member at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. This is Greig’s first solo exhibition with Gross McCleaf. Greig lives and works in Philadelphia.


Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to present a new selection of small works by gallery artist, Douglas Martenson, in Home & Away. Martenson paints observationally in various locations throughout Maine and Pennsylvania. His new works feature a return to the familiar subject matter of landscape: intimate views of buildings, urban streets, knobby trees, and an exploration of environments under duress.

Landscape painting has consistently been a vehicle for conceptual ideas. Realist painters, like myself, can often be pigeonholed into a category of simply depicting what can be seen without further thought or concept. While I embrace beauty in my work, it is more than decorative. Utilizing landscape as a means of inquiry, I am exploring new and challenging ideas such as climate change, loss, and a sense of place.

This collection consists of paintings of the house and property my wife and I rent while in Maine, as well as paintings of Kelly Drive and of the area surrounding my studio in South Philadelphia. Some paintings capture the way light transforms the buildings and changes the landscape, whereas others depict the all-consuming force of wildfires. Like the title of the show reflects, these are images of ‘home’ and ‘away’ –  familiar views from my life, as well as unsettling depictions of burning scenes from across the country.”

- Douglas Martenson

Martenson is also fascinated by what he calls the “artist’s eye”, meaning the way in which an artist’s unique perspective is formed, and how this viewpoint informs their decision-making throughout their practice. Expanding upon this idea, Martenson has curated a companion exhibition to Home & Away that will be on display in the adjacent gallery. The grouping features an exciting variety of formal approaches with artworks by Christine Lafuente, Heidi Leitzke, Ann Lofquist, Henry Murphy, Nicole Parker, Bethann Parker, and Martha Armstrong. Although the works depict related content, such as land and seascapes, each painting is vastly different in showcasing the singular viewpoint of each maker.

Douglas Martenson is a professor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and teaches Drawing at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been exhibiting in Philadelphia with Gross McCleaf Gallery for over two decades and has shown his work regionally and nationally throughout the United States.