Our current Fall solo exhibition here at Stewart Leshé Collections features the paintings and works on paper by native New Jersey artist, Cicely Cottingham. Her exhibition titled "The Marjorie Paintings and Kitchen Table Drawings" will run through November 27, 2009.
As the title suggests, Cottingham's show features two complementary yet distinct bodies of work in subject and scale. The Marjorie Paintings are large-scale works measuring 64 x 48 inches, composed of acrylic on wood panels and were produced from 2000 to 2003. In her statement the artist shares that "They are a response to the environment in and around Newark, New Jersey, which I now call home. While working on these paintings, pondering what was still a major change in my visual environment (country to urban), I found myself surrounded by a pool of memory of my mother Marjorie, who had died in 1999 at the age of 85. Titles of the paintings arose from these memories... So these works are formal expressions of my experience of a new environment, but they are also a celebration of a life lived and of the creativity which Marjorie fostered in me." Download The Marjorie Paintings Description Sheet
In her scaled down and more intimate works titled "Kitchen Table Drawings", the artist created a series of watercolor drawings on Sennelier paper with each finished work measuring 6 x 8 inches and based on the method of "pairing" unrelated drawings to make a singular work. This series, begun in 2007 and continuing, evolved over a period of many nights after dinner, which due to work demands and scheduling constraints was the only way the artist found time to work. In her statements she offers that the "drawings are a response to my frustration and a result of painting every night after dinner, my plate pushed aside from the cotton placemat and replaced with brush, paint and paper. The activity produced a diary of sorts, a moment in time, an aid to returning to balance." Download Kitchen Table Drawings_Description_Sheet
The Marjorie Paintings and Kitchen Table Drawings were created throughout this decade, and we are honored that they are being shown for the first time here at Stewart Leshé Collections. They are extended by a third body of work in an accompanying exhibition at Gallery Aferro in Newark, NJ, opening October 24th. See www.aferro.org for details. The Aferro show features her Flag series, consisting of three panel compositions painted in acrylic on tracing vellum, which continues her method of combining multiple image elements constituting singular works. In an essay accompanying both exhibitions Alejandro Anreus, Ph.D. writes, "For over thirty years Ms. Cottingham has been producing a consistent corpus committed to the tradition of painting and drawing that belongs within "the family" of artists like Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Edouard Vuillard, Giorgio Morandi and Alberto Giacometti, Georges Braque and Agnes Martin. This is the family of contemplatives in painting, for whom the medium is an occasion for pause and meditation." Download Mr. Anreus'_essay.
Cicely Cottingham, born in Brooklyn, New York, attended Pratt Institute, receiving her BFA in the mid 1960's. After school she lived for a time in Manhattan, Cambridge, Massachusettes and England before eventually settling in New Jersey where she spent her childhood in an old farmhouse surrounded by woods. It was there that she immersed herself in the light that is particular to the New York Atlantic coast. Her childhood environment became her primary creative influence. Other major influences were her mother, Marjorie, who instilled in her a deep satisfaction in the making of things; the first modernist, Cezanne, whose paintings she visited routinely and reverently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and later, the American Hudson River School and Luminist painters. Her more recent works show a move to abstraction: color and shape reflect a more urban environment, yet the landscape of her youth is never entirely out of the picture.
Cottingham served as Design Director at Aljira Design in Newark, NJ from 1996 to 2009, which she co-founded in 1991. Her work in design over the last twenty years also provided fertile ground for expanding her vocabulary as a painter. For her work in the arts she has received a Pollack/Krasner Grant, three New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship Awards, a Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper Fellowship Award, and a Hereward Lester Cooke Grant. Notable solo exhibitions include (two) at the Jersey City Museum, The Hunterdon Museum of Art, and Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Newark Museum, and the Institute for Jazz Studies, Rutgers University. Corporate collections include Prudential, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Johnson & Johnson, and McGraw Hill. Cicely's work has been included in New Jersey Arts Annuals at the Newark Museum, the Montclair Art Museum, and the New Jersey State Museum. Cottingham currently lives and works in West Orange, New Jersey. Her work has been written about in the New York Times, New Art Examiner, Review,and Artnet Magazine.Patch.com for Millburn. Larry Dell of The Millburn, Maplewood and South Orange Local for The New York Times makes the case for getting out to this must see show.