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GMG Presents: Short & Sweet IV

Gross McCleaf is pleased to present Short & Sweet IV, a pair of mini-exhibitions featuring works by Marilyn Holsing and Heidi Leitzke. These southeastern Pennsylvania-based painters focus on the investigation and narrative possibilities of botanicals.

Oil and gouache artist Marilyn Holsing depicts anthropomorphized arrangements that convey their distinct personalities through form and gesture. Flowers are posed in precarious positions, emphasizing strength and persistence. Her seemingly corporeal subjects huddle humorously in vulnerable vignettes, some beaming with pride, while others appear to droop in sorrow. Their leaves stretch and strain as they tenaciously grasp onto neighboring stems, reinforcing the growing tangle.

While Holsing’s colors and textures accurately depict the delicate, natural beauty of her plants, there are alluring details throughout that lean into the delightfully grotesque. Thick meaty petals undulate around the stamin like a group of twisting earthworms, and dry stringy tendrils hang from organic growths like curious cilia. Many of the groupings flourish despite being held within tiny wicker baskets and pans, surviving on impossible, sloping hillsides. In addition to a bit of awkwardness, Holsing’s persevering flowers conjure feelings of affinity and compassion. They are the antiheroes of a winding adventure through an immersive paradise.

Acrylic and thread painter Heidi Leitzke captures the sense of sweetness, warmth and renewal found within the rhythms of her bucolic surroundings. In deep sympathy with Holsing’s world of flowers, she writes, “My process begins with drawing outside, observing and absorbing nature. I feel like my eyes are getting a much-needed massage as I study the shifting light and fleeting shadows in the landscape.”

Leitzke’s works focus on the lush, magical moments of rural Pennsylvania. In Miniature Mushrooms, a radiant family of orange fungi push up from the verdant earth like tiny tubas. Garden Path depicts the setting sun casting a warm glow upon a curving path leading toward a quaint structure. Overhead, the large-scale flowers invite viewers to shrink to the perspective of a field mouse. Another fully abstract work, Windstorm, offers a swirl of colors and arabesque ribbons reminiscent of a spring breeze carrying fragrant scents, beckoning to the bees. Leitzke’s scenes are a breath of fresh air and reveal a hopeful world in which nature’s harmonies are available to all who pause to observe them.

Marilyn Holsing lives and works in Philadelphia. She has exhibited her work in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond, including, The Delaware Contemporary in Wilmington, Delaware; Melanee Cooper Gallery in Chicago; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; the ICA at the University of Pennsylvania and Field Projects, New York. Her work is included in public collections such as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Woodmere Art Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Fidelity Investments. She is Professor Emeritus in painting at Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Heidi Leitzke is a visual artist, creating works on paper, oil paintings and her signature thread paintings. She has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions around the world, from Lancaster Galleries in Lancaster, PA, where she lives and works, to Swaziland, Africa, as part of the U.S. State Department’s Art in Embassies program. Most recently her thread paintings were featured in “Other Pastures” curated by Chase Dougherty at The Delaware Contemporary Museum of Art, in Wilmington, DE. Leitzke earned her MFA in Painting at Western Carolina University, BA at Anderson University, and studied at Chautauqua School of Art in New York. Leitzke is an Assistant Professor of Art and Director of the Eckert Art Gallery at Millersville University and she serves on the Demuth Foundation Board of Directors.