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GMG Presents: Kurt Moyer: New Abstractions, Jeffrey Reed: Returning + Heart & Soul

“I have a longing for a certain beauty that’s hard to describe, but it’s usually associated with summer colors. My desire for this summertime feeling seems inexhaustible, and though I’ve been trying for many years, I don’t feel like I am ever really satisfied.”

Kurt Moyer

For over a decade, Kurt Moyer’s work has combined his love of nature with his reverence for art history. Born in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Moyer spent much of his youth exploring the Barnes Collection in Merion, Pennsylvania. Moyer now resides in rural New York near Rochester where he spends his time plein air painting from the beginning of spring until late fall. These passions converge in Moyer’s new abstract paintings on view at Gross McCleaf. 

While Moyer enjoys and finds inspiration from painting in nature, his abstract works are created in the studio, away from visual reference. As a result, Moyer has shifted away from representation in search of a way to create paintings with a purity of expression and form. A memory or feeling might spark the idea for a painting, but as the marks and colors are placed on the canvas, the artwork takes over. Moyer then follows the cues found within the painting’s form to complete the work. He describes the symbiotic relationship that he seeks within the color relationships as the appearance of “giving and receiving light”. Referring to the illusory phenomena of the natural world, Moyer’s works capture summer sunlight and wayward beams in a way that goes beyond the established aspects of painting to convey a transcendent or even sublime experience. 

The influence of art history is easy to spot in the entirety of Moyer’s oeuvre. For many years, Cezanne’s Bathers were a primary source of inspiration. While you may still envision a glistening stream within the potpourri of chromatic paint strokes, perhaps a love of Monet’s water lilies has now risen to the surface. Some of the works are monumental in scale, allowing the viewer to be immersed within the seductive treatment of paint and canvas. 

In the end, Moyer’s concerns stretch beyond the historical art references, personal memories, and formal concerns. Instead, Moyer hopes that his paintings are a “vehicle for transcendence”, both for himself and for the viewer. Returning to Cezanne, Moyer connects to the quote, “Art is a harmony parallel to nature,” and it is clear by these new works that Moyer seeks that ideal. 

Kurt Moyer received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and printmaking from Kutztown University in 1999. He has since exhibited his work in numerous regional and group exhibitions as well as solo shows at the Warm Springs Gallery in Charlottesville, VA and the Gross McCleaf Gallery - where he is represented. Moyer has taught landscape painting classes in Italy at the prestigious Jerusalem Studio School in Civita. The artist lives and works in Pittsford, New York.


I heard Seamus Caulfield, an Irish archaeologist, say, in short, ‘A landscape painting incorporates a sense of humanity and history, whereas a painting of scenery is more superficial.’ I have spent a lot of time painting in inhabited, rural places where man and nature come together. I wonder about the people in the buildings, their lives, and their relationship to the environment…. Looking over a distance is a chance to travel in and experience space and several senses of time and change - the weather changes as does a cultivated field.

- Jeffrey Reed

For nearly forty years, Jeffrey Reed has been eagerly documenting the landscapes of Ireland, rural Pennsylvania, and Maine before taking his paintings back to the studio to finish. When on location, he is particularly drawn to moments when the landscape is in flux. As the weather begins to change, Reed paints with a sense of urgency to capture the light and atmosphere of the specific setting and time of day. It is during these moments that Reed is driven by a sense of discovery and a feeling of connection to his environment, the comfort of the familiar and the surprise of the new. 

Reed also paints singular objects or interior scenes, but like his landscapes, the paraphernalia of humanity is present without the appearance of figures. Although he admits that he is not pursuing the relationship between man and nature as a doggedly philosophical pursuit, there is a connection when the wild expressions of nature bump up against the cultivated, controlled lines of the human world, creating a curious juxtaposition and beautiful design in his works. 

Reed paints his landscapes en plein air and keeps them small for practical purposes. However, there is nothing small about the amount of space depicted within the confines of a diminutive substrate.  Reed allows you to literally put the whole sky into your pocket, providing a tiny window which opens into an expansive landscape. To Reed, the “key” of the painting can often be found on the horizon, where the infinite and the measurable meet. 

Reed received his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, studied at the Skowhegan School of Art, and received his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. Jeffrey Reed lives in Pennsylvania where he is an Associate Professor at the Community College of Philadelphia and the Head of the Art Department. Each summer he paints and teaches on the Western coast of Ireland at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation. Reed has been represented by Gross McCleaf for more than 25 years, and has shown his paintings in Philadelphia, New York, throughout the East Coast, and in Ireland.


Bea Wain’s 1939 pop tune, Heart and Soul, is the playful inspiration for our February group exhibition of Gross McCleaf artists. The featured artworks are bonded together without reservation, through content, essence, colors, titles and subject matter.  HEART & SOUL aims to capture aspects of Eros, the loyal but mischievous Greek God of love, and some of his effects on the body, mind, heart and spirit.

The exhibit offers narratives that document the emotional journey of falling in love, but also explores other facets of the ‘eros’ experience: from the blush of first acquaintance and mutual connection, or lack thereof, to passion, communication, longing and loss, and the shaping of new and old dreams. The works in the show share these journeys of the heart that are as varied and unpredictable as the song ‘HEART & SOUL’ expresses.

Visitors may find love at first sight in the soothing colors of abstract works by Keith Breitfeller or be swept off their feet with the bouquets of flowers presented in the works of Frank Trefny and Irene Mamiye. One might be wooed by the unapologetic sentimentality of Kati Gegenheimer’s, Idea of an Arrangement and enjoy the calmness and confidence granted by the healthy bounty supplied in Howie Weiss’ Song #2.

Ying Li’s expressive paint application and Natasha Das’s Kantha Pink with its zigzagging and overlapping stitches, remind us of the frenetic, exciting confusion of falling in love. And one can attempt to decipher furtive messages communicated through the stayed stripes of Thomas Paul Raggio’s Forever V and the vulnerable, mysterious marks made in Paul Marrocco’s paintings.

Echoes of familiar disappointments and even despair linger heavily in Joan Becker’s The Dancer, and My Black Heart. Likewise, one may connect to the frustration of obsessively searching for answers to the unknown in Bethann Parker’s Telling Hands or the painful ambiguity of the tentative atmospheres found in Rebekah Callaghan’s Breath Notes and Emily Richardson’s biomorphic piece, Suspension.

Venus, the Roman Goddess of love, enters the picture in the works of Sterling Shaw and Max Mason, while Eros takes center stage in Alexandra Tyng’s Defying the Gods. Natasha Das’ chromatic and texturally rich Color Composition in Red suggests passion, power, and sensuality and in Michael Gallagher’s Big Pink, human forms seem to be intertwined in an embrace.

Thomas Paquette’s Toward Evening: Beach evokes the romantic pastime of strolling along moonlit shores, perhaps discovering the treasures found in Dale O.Roberts’ Remains of a Wave - tangible memories of a special time together. Viewers may sense the assurity inscribed in the mindful moments watching Martha Armstrong’s magical, glittering sunsets while musing over past loves. The brightly lit seating arrangement in Larry Francis’ Evening, implies a quiet tete-a-tete at the end of a long day.