SOMA NewArt Gallery is pleased to present Brine, curated by Cape May-based painter Victor Grasso. For this exhibition, SOMA opens its galleries to thirteen selected artists in a diverse and dynamic presentation encompassing a range of mediums and techniques, both expert and unexpected. Brine combines the gallery’s mission of promoting artists who have connections to Cape May and the New Jersey coast with its commitment to exhibiting world-class artists and enriching the cultural landscape of the region.
Brine denotes a confluence; an intermingling of tradition and contemporaneity. The exhibition’s title takes inspiration from the brackish waters nearby Cape May, where fresh water from as far upriver as the Catskill Mountains meets salt water from the Atlantic Ocean. By presenting an eclectic and engaging selection of work exploring similar yet divergent themes, Brine offers up a mélange of artistic perspectives in response to SOMA’s seashore setting.
Shepard Fairey, best known for manipulating images for mass consumption through street art, contributes two panels with ominous and ironic depictions of the sea. Noted realist painter Bo Bartlett presents scenes from American life which are as entrancing as they are enigmatic. Curator Victor Grasso also embraces a realist vision, though considerably darker and with a glint of surrealism, in his enthralling large-scale rendering of an octopus. This tentacled organism takes form elsewhere in the exhibition, including Philadelphia-based artist Adam Wallacavage’s exquisite octopus chandelier. Canadian axe maker Graeme Cameron proposes a more mythological interpretation of this sea creature with his elegant Kraken Titanis Axe.
Painter Danny Galieote works with classical techniques and a mid-century aesthetic which imbues his depictions of idealized subjects with an air of nostalgia. A stunning portrait by Kris Lewis explores a similar theme with considerable emotional depth, while Ali Cavanaugh explores the body through the lens of childhood with a modern fresco technique which yields slippery and sumptuous results.
Lending local context to the exhibition are coastally influenced plein-air painters Greg Bennett and Stan Sperlak, both of whom have exhibited extensively with the gallery. Frank Kallop explores both moody narrative and academic still-life in his contributions to the show. Emerging artists like photographer/filmmaker Frank Weiss and airbrush artist Steve Gibson also contribute to the exhibitions, infusing additional diversity and talent into the SOMA galleries.