From the Collections

Peyton Wright Gallery is pleased to announce “From the Collections,” an exhibition of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper drawn from the gallery’s extensive collections and estates. More than 50 artists will be showcased, including artists from the Washington Color School such as Tom Downing and Paul Reed, as well as Bay Area Abstract Expressionists including John Grillo and Edward Dugmore. The exhibition commences on Friday, October 14, 2016 and continues through November 16, 2016 in our main floor galleries. There is no opening reception.

The Washington Color School was a movement of the late 1950s through the late 1960s. It was a form of abstract art that developed from color field painting. The name derives from the Washing Gallery of Modern Art, where this group of artists first exhibited. This exhibition features two of the school’s founding members, Tom Downing and Paul Reed. Both are known for their strong palettes and precise, hard-edged compositions. James Hilleary and Leon Berkowitz are two artists associated with the movement who are also featured in the exhibition.

Bay Area Abstract Expressionism was a movement that centered on Clyfford Still, who taught at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute). John Grillo and Edward Dugmore were two of his most prominent students. Dugmore produced large, imposing paintings that Los Angeles Times critic David Pagel called “translucent configurations … [that] seem to be lit from behind.” Grillo became known as one of the “purest” action painters and helped to define Bay Area Abstract Expressionism. Both Dugmore and Grillo went on to show at the renowned Stable Gallery in New York.

The exhibition features other significant works by prominent artists across the spectrum of post-war American art. These include Hans Hofmann, Roy Lichtenstein, Jochen Seidel, James Brooks, Art Brenner, Mary Abbott, Grace Hartigan, Herbert Bayer, and Ray Parker. The breadth and depth of Peyton Wright Gallery’s collection will be on full display in this exhibition.

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About the Artists
(1911 - 1987)
Leon Berkowitz was born in Philadelphia in 1911. He was a founding member of the Washington Color School, an artistic movement which became associated with Washington, D.C. painters. His paintings evolved from luminous geometric abstractions to fields of brilliant modulated color.

Berkowitz earned a BFA from the University of Pennsylvania and continued his studies in New York, Paris, and Florence. He founded the Washington Workshop Center of the Arts in 1945 and taught there from 1945 - 1965. The workshop was established to make Washington a serious place for the growth of artistic culture through the exchange of artistic ideas.

Other teachers at the Workshop who became leaders of the Washington Color School were Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Gene Davis.

Berkowitz and his wife traveled extensively from 1956 to 1964. Berkowitz used that time to further his artistic and spiritual explorations. He painted and exhibited in England, Spain, Greece, Wales, and Jerusalem. Returning permanently to Washington in 1964, he joined the faculty of the Corcoran School of Art. He was promoted to head of the Painting Department in 1969.

Berkowitz had solo exhibitions at the Corcoran Museum of Art in 1969 and in 1973, as well as numerous solo shows at private galleries in Washington,D.C. and New York City. His works are in the permanent collections of the Corcoran, the Phillips Collection, and the MOMA in New York.

Much of Berkowitz's work is a reaction to the work of the Abstract Expressionist School in New York. Berkowitz was never comfortable with the abstract expressionist painters' dependence on internal psychological states. Berkowitz felt he needed to take inspiration from some external authority, rather than an exclusively internal one. In Berkowitz's own words, "I wanted to work in direct response to nature".

Berkowitz's later paintings marry form and structure with color and light. As light penetrates through the layers of thinly applied paint crystalline structures emerge. Berkowitz challenges the viewer to look INTO the color rather than AT the color. Berkowitz restores to color a "depth of vision" in his best work, and in those depths the viewer discovers the natural forms in the universe - sea, sky, and earth.

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(1910 - 2008)
Margo Hoff was born into a large family in Tulsa in 1912. As a child she spent many hours playing out­side, finding patterns in nature, a practice she pursued throughout her life, rendering them as bright, textural paintings. Hoff graduated from Tulsa University in 1931. Three years later she moved to Chicago, enrolling in the National Academy of Art and later at SAIC. In 1939 she spent a few months in Europe traveling and looking at art, and during her lifetime she traveled and worked in over twenty-five countries, including Brazil, Ethiopia, and Lebanon.

Hoff showed in exhibitions at Art Institute Chicago (1945, 1946, 1950, and 1953), winning several prizes. In addition to her long-standing association with Fairweather-Hardin Gallery, which began in 1955 with her first one-person exhibition in Chicago, Hoff's work was frequently shown in New York, including Hadler-Rodriguez Galleries, Saidenberg Gallery, Babcock Gallery, Betty Parsons Gallery, and Banter Gallery; and in Paris at Wildenstein Gallery. Her work can be found in the collections of major museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Corcoran Gallery of Art and the National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and Art Institute of Chicago.

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(1886 - 1969)
Paul Burlin was born in New York in 1886. He received his early education in England before returning to New York at the age of twelve. He worked for a short time as an illustrator under Theodore Dreiser at Delineator magazine, where he was exposed to Progressivist philosophy and politics. He soon grew tired of commercial work and enrolled at the National Academy of Design. There, he received a formal education and refined his technical skills; though he later dropped out to pursue his artistic studies more informally with a group of fellow students. He was also a frequent visitor at Alfred Steiglitz’s ‘291’ gallery.

Burlin achieved a great deal of early artistic success. He visited the Southwest for the first time in 1910. Paintings from this visit were received warmly in New York and exhibited in a 1911 exhibition. As a result of his early success, he was the youngest artist (at twenty-six years of age) to participate in the 1913 Armory Show – the revolutionary exhibition of avant-garde European work that can be credited with introducing modern art to the United States and stimulating the development of modernism in America. There, Burlin’s work was exhibited alongside works by such artists as Picasso, Monet, Cézanne, and Duchamp.

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(1928 - 1985)
Thomas Downing was born in Suffolk, Virginia. He studied at Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Virginia, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1948. He then studied at the Pratt Institute, a well-known art school in Brooklyn, New York, until 1950. That year he received a grant from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, enabling him to travel to Europe, where he studied briefly at the Académie Julian in Paris.

In the late 1950s, Downing shared a studio with Howard Mehring, another artist of the Washington Color School and Color Field style. In 1964 Clement Greenberg included Noland, Mehring, Downing and others in his traveling museum exhibition called Post-painterly Abstraction.
Donald Roy Thompson was born in 1936, in Fowler, California. He received his B.A. degree from Sacramento State University in 1960. He received his M.A also from Sacramento State University in 1962. His most notable art instructor was Wayne Thiebaud. Among his classmates were Fritz Scholder and Merrill Mahaffey, both successful artists in Santa Fe. From 1964-2000 Donald was an art instructor at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. Before he settled down to teach, Donald traveled and lived in Mexico City, where he was able to observe closely the murals of Diego Rivera. In 2013 Thompson settled in Santa Fe

Like so many color field painters of his generation, Thompson was influenced by Johannes Itten and Josef Albers, as well as by Matisse and Mondrian. During an impoverished time in his early art career he was unable to afford good quality paint so instead he used layers of hand dyed cheesecloth for a large installation at the Cabrillo College Gallery. It helped form the basis of the ideas of transparency that he later produced in his acrylic color field paintings of 1971-75. By 1972 Donald began again to use opaque colors on various sizes of canvas, focusing on the illusion of transparency. By 1974 he began to feel the need for greater physicality. He began to employ the use of stretched canvases of a single color bolted together from large to huge (7.5’ X 10’) now in the Oakland Museum.

Thompson has exhibited solo and group shows both nationally and internationally. These include solo shows at Larry Evans/Willis Gallery, Foster Goldstrom, and Galeria Carl Van der Voort in San Francisco, and Ibiza, Spain. He had solo shows at Frederick Spratt Gallery in San Jose, California, as well as Shasta College Gallery, in Redding California and Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. His group shows by Leila Taghinia-Milani, New York City, Basel Art Fair, Switzerland and Second British International Print Biennale, Yorkshire, England. Thompson’s Paintings are found in major collections including The Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA.; Seattle First National Bank (Seafirst), Seattle, WA; Crocker Museum, Sacramento, CA, Art Museum of Santa Cruz County, Santa Crus, CA.

Donald Thompson’s exhibitions have been reviewed well by Thomas Albright of the San Francisco Chronicle, July 28, 1964, Sept. 28, 1967; Henry Hopkins, The Tampa Tribune, April, 16, 1968; Mark Levy, Artweek, December 18, 1982; Claude LeSuer, ArtSpeak, June 23, 1983, New York, N.Y.

(1889 - 1981)
Canadian artist Rolph Scarlett had a remarkable career, as a painter, designer and creator of unique jewelry. He was born in Guelph, Ontario in 1889. When he moved to the United States in 1918, he had gained experience in the techniques of painting, execution of jewelry settings and designing for the stage. Each of these interests helped shape his career.

Scarlett's dedication to Modernism was expressed in his art and design work. Although Scarlett also created action paintings and surrealist works, he especially loved and was devoted to geometric abstract non-objective painting. Before the end of his nearly 75-year career, Scarlett had returned to geometric abstraction with a greatly brightened palette and a denser composition than used in his earlier work. His commitment to abstraction never wavered and he continued to explore it, until his death at age 94.
Mokha Laget was born in Algeria and spent her early life in North Africa, France, and the United States.

"I manipulate spatial conventions within the confines of geometric abstraction and engage the viewer in an interactive exploration of perceptual ambiguity within the shaped canvas as object and its embedded planes.

I use a highly refined chromatic sensibility (developed in my formative years in the Mediterranean desert and later as studio assistant to Washington Color School Painter Gene Davis), to alternatively support or undermine the illusionistic spatial constructs of the painting. To that effect, I have developed a clay-based paint with a deeply flat matte and tactile surface which I layer for maximum light absorption.

I create shaped canvases to eliminate the traditional rectilinear boundary, and allow the internal dynamics of the piece to extend beyond the painting to external vanishing points.

My work expands on the WCS and Colorfield painters who avoided techniques suggesting depth, preferring planar surfaces and repetitive elements, whereas I deliberately explore perceptual mechanisms to create scale, spatial disruption and color ambiguity."

(1890 - 1973)
Stanton Macdonald-Wright (1890-1973) was one of America’s leading modernist painters and an early pioneer of abstract art. Born in Virginia and raised in southern California, he enrolled at the Art Students League in Los Angeles as a precocious thirteen-year-old. In 1907, while still a teenager, he married and then settled in Paris, studying at the Sorbonne and several art academies, including the Académie Colorossi and the École des Beaux Arts, and then privately with Percyval Hart-Tudor, who taught color theory in relation to music. Inspired chiefly by the works of Cézanne, Matisse, and the Cubists, Macdonald-Wright exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in 1910 and at the Salon des Indépendents in 1912.

Together with fellow American expatriate Morgan Russell, Macdonald-Wright co-founded the avant-garde painting movement Synchromism, whose first exhibition was held in Munich in the summer of 1913 and the second in Paris during the fall of the same year. These were soon followed by shows in London, Milan, and Warsaw. And in early 1914 Synchromist paintings were exhibited for the first time in New York. Similar to its rival Parisian movement Orphism, Synchromism combined color with Cubism, producing luminous and rhythmic compositions of swirling and serpentine forms infused with a rich chromatic palette. As Macdonald-Wright later described it, “Synchromism simply means ‘with color’ as symphony means ‘with sound’, and our idea was to produce an art whose genesis lay, not in objectivity, but in form produced in color”.

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(1935 - 2005)
Alvin Loving Jr. was an innovative African American artist whose diverse body of work included striking geometric paintings. Just a year after leaving his native Detroit for New York in 1969, Loving was given a solo show at the Whitney Museum. Of the exhibition, Loving later reflected: “My geometric abstractions of this time represented a post-graduate end to my education in western culture and art history. The Whitney show would force me to scramble to find my own non-eclectic position in art.” Throughout his career, Loving developed a recognizably bold style, organizing vivid color into arresting visual arrangements with precision and subtlety.