Howard Yezerski Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Playing In Traffic, an exhibition of new work by Susan Jane Belton. This is Belton’s 4th solo show at the gallery. The paintings in the exhibition present a departure from a subject she has focused on for decades, the take-out coffee cup. Belton has been taking lots of walks, especially this past year, and the result is this new body of work - luminous oil paintings, wry observations of traffic cones, caution tape and fire hydrants. It seems Belton can’t help but see humorous narratives in their found arrangements and the situations they seem to depict.
She says, “ I found all these objects not only amusing and visually interesting, but also poignantly suggestive of this particular moment in time”. Reflecting on her musings during the pandemic year of our anxiety and uncertainty Belton says, “I think one theme of the images is fear of being a grown-up. Who is going to steer us around catastrophe? It can feel like we’re all ‘Waiting For Instructions’, and the task is to be quietly optimistic… We’re all just trying to find our way and you just have to chuckle…”.
In his essay included in Belton’s newest catalog, John Walsh, Director Emeritus, J. Paul Getty Museum writes: “Pretty much everything is on alert in these paintings, ready to serve. Standpipes look eager, their stumpy nozzles thrust out to you like welcoming arms. Hydrants are vigilant, bolted to the concrete and holding back high-pressure water you might someday need, themselves protected from damage by bollards and stanchions… She sees humor in the way that a street photographer might, but she also has the skill and confidence as a painter to put across the saturated colors and abrupt play of slanting light and shade.” He continues, “Belton isn’t just an ingenious designer, she is also a delicious painter. There is something to wonder at in every picture…Nothing is overworked. There is a feeling of confident spontaneity in the way she paints…
Belton says, ‘These paintings are about painting. That is really all I was doing in the studio. I was questioning what juicy paint could do to isolate the object, to define its lights and darks. What happens if I give it more or less space, push the color, caress the edges. Finding humor and hope in painting is a terrific optimistic surprise.’ Humor and hope: Belton combines those with optimism just when we most need them in our lives.”
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