After several frustrating attempts to visit a local art gallery, I was glad I finally had the chance to see the work of artist Sarah McEneaney. The gallery was very unique and unlike any other galleries I have visited. Her work is being showcased at The Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania.
The artist currently lives in Chinatown and has a studio there. Most artists have something that makes their work distinct. Ms. McEneaney uses egg tempera and gouache instead of the traditional type paint I am used to seeing.
She also uses wood, panels and paper instead of the usual canvas. The materials that she uses just made the work explode and the colors of the paint she used were vibrant and rich in color. This was one of the most vivid showing of colors that I have seen in any museum art. By using egg tempera which she mixes herself, on gessoed wood and a very small brush to paint so she can paint with both short and long strokes (crosshatching) the artist says this is considered a very old medium (www.Order now
missioncreep.com/sarah). Most of her works were of her and her pets or of where she lives or an event in her live. There were a lot of nudes of her in the shower or bath.
She also does painting of herself in her house or of sites around Philadelphia and several other cities. She also does sculptures of her animals.
Some of the works that I really enjoyed are Mojacar Night, My House, Summer 1998 and Wissahickon. Mojacar Night is a painting of Sarah lying on a couch at nighttime.
This painting really overwhelmed me because this was one of the most vibrantly colored paintings in the collection. She used egg tempera on panel that was sixteen by twenty inches and it was painted in 2001. On the panel the room that she is in is red – a really bright red. When you look out the windows there is a farm and hills that she painted.
This adds a calming mood to the painting contrasting with the bright red.
My House, Summer 1998 was done in 1999 using egg tempera on wood. This was one of her larger works measuring forty-eight by thirty-six inches. This is a painting of Sarah in her backyard reading a newspaper.
I liked this painting because you can read what’s on the paper and the plants look life like. There is a lot of attention to detail so to enjoy this painting you have to first be on top of the painting and then take a few steps back. She adds great detail for both points of view. It does not look like a photo but it is does have a lot of elements in it.
She uses bright yellows, blues and reds but she also adds blacks and browns into this work creating a feeling of being right there. This adds a nice view for the onlooker.
Wissahickon is another one of her other works that I really liked. It is done with egg tempera on wood with a size of twenty-four by twenty-four inches.
This painting is of a park where Sarah is walking her dog. It seems to be a painting of her over time in the park on the same day. The park is a winter scene and she is wearing a yellow jacket, which makes her really stand out against the snow covered ground and the bare trees of the park. She adds detail to this painting too with the rays of sun light that shine down.
She even puts in the paw prints from the dog running in the park. There is a bridge in the background that even shows visible stones. This painting has something that I really liked because it shows her not just walking in one scene but in three separate scenes like three paintings within this one painting. It is almost as if she is starting from the background walking toward you coming into the foreground of the painting.
She makes you feel that you are there watching her walk toward you.
This artist is someone that I may not have normally gone to see, but I really liked and enjoyed seeing her work. The colors and how she did the paints and the materials that she uses are just something that you need to go to see to believe. These works have colors that I have never seen in paintings even though I have visited several large and small galleries and museums.
A lot of her paintings make the viewer feel that you are there. I enjoyed the painting but after seeing her sculptures I feel that she is a stronger painter. This is one gallery you don’t want to miss because Sarah McEneaney’s work is so unique she is a local artist.