One of the best shows of the season at Gerald Peters Gallery: Steve Cope, Greta Gunderson and Susan Williams

March 5, 2012

Greta Gundersen - Susurrus 4.21.10

Gerald Peters Gallery in New York sounded an early opening and set the bar high for the New York art fair shows with three very different, artists, two of whom are outstanding.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that Steve Cope is an old friend and a very talented fellow who happens to have been showing professionally since 1989. Steve has always had a light touch with his subject matter. His work has always had a whimsical element which, I suspect, has led critics to not take it as seriously as they should.

Prior to Steve’s first show at Gerald Peters in 2010 (which we also reviewed), he had radically rethought his work. Instead of large canvases, he was working on 1”x5” pieces of wood, using the finest possible brushes to create his miniature landscapes.

Steve is still working in miniature but (gasp) he’s tripled his surface to 2”x8”. It’s definitely a giggle to talk about an artist’s working in triple size, large format at 16 square inches, but there it is.

These landscapes require close attention. There’s much to see, still painted with the smallest possible brushes. The detail is astonishing, whether it’s snowy mountains, seascape, desert or clouded sky. The signature Cope detail is there too: Rings in the sky or there shadows on the ground – although I would swear that one painting was without a ring.

From the comments I overheard on opening night, Steve’s work is highly appreciated. I can understand why – and I’m delighted for Steve. He’s a talented artist, a lovely man, and deserves great success.

A short while ago, I reread an old piece of art criticism which said that women shouldn’t be allowed to paint (professionally) because all they turn out are sentimental paintings of children. I wish that critic was still alive to see

Steve Cope - Portage Glacier, Alaska

’s work.

Greta lives somewhere between abstraction, concept and realism. She has different bodies of work in these places.

Her abstract work is an internalization of something she feels about something she sees. It’s moody, haunting and both emotionally and visually stunning – and you want to live in that place. Ergo, you want to live with that painting, whether it’s a large single panel, a triptych, an unusual horizontal diptych or one of the small paintings. Her palette can be warm, driven by coppers and reds, or cool, immersed in greys, browns and blues. In either case, the paintings draw you into a world of smoke, shadows and rolling clouds. I covet them all.

In sharp contrast are Greta’s small drawings of bats and birds, done in powdered graphite on paper. These are realistic impressions, reflections of these creatures. You will never like a bat as well as you like Greta’s drawing of a bat.

The show is open through March 30.  Gerald Peters Gallery is at 24 E 78 Street, NYC.

One comment

  1. Greta Gundersen here, THANK YOU for that insightful response.
    I am deeply grateful for your writing, you understand entirely.
    Your language is beautiful, unpredictable, emotionally precise and full of verve.

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