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What the 50 Memorable Painters from 2015 Painted in 2016

Matthew Cherry one of 50 Memorable Painters of 2015

Matthew Cherry one of 50 Memorable Painters of 2015

We revisited with some of our 50 Most Memorable Painters from 2015 to see what they have been up to. From the sampling of the artwork you see here, they are still as memorable as ever. It has been a tough year for many.  As publisher, I thought it best to not bring you another list this year.  Instead let's treasure what we already have and hang on to it for little longer.  I think Ron Francis' painting cumulates how most of us feel about 2016. Please read the statements of each artist's recap of their year and take a look at last year's edition here.

For next year we are going to publish a 100 Great Figurative Artworks anthology. Notice that we are focusing on the amount of artwork and not the number of artists. Steven DaLuz will be selecting the works. Information is coming to us from everywhere and I think it is important to have some sort of anthology to offer our readers, galleries, art enthusiasts and collectors so they may have a starting point and then they may take it further from there. 

For me, I already have 2017 firmly planted in our calendar with group shows in New York, Denver, Chicago, and Los Angeles with a possible one still in the works in Florida. We are also now publishing heavily on our blog which is feeding information about our community of artists and poets to Apple News. Lorena Kloosterboer one of our staff writers will continue to publish articles about our artist in our blog but more importantly I have given her the position of the head writer.  Take a look at her introduction and blurbs about the art in FORMATION at Bernarducci.Meisel

I already have my eyes set past 2017 but first let's reflect on the art we created in 2016 and see where where our hard work will take us next.

Ali Cavanaugh | Eutierria | watercolor on clay | 12x12

2016 was probably one of my busiest years to date. I started out the year with a solo show, Immerse, at Fontbonne University in my hometown, St Louis, MO. This spring I opened my first studio outside of my home after working in my home studio for the past 20 years of my career. I participated in a few group shows; Brine curated by Victor Grasso and TWELVE at Robert Lange Studios. In September my first Museum show, Modern Frescoes, opened at the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art in Marietta, GA. The show ran for 4 months and included 54 paintings, spanning my 7 year journey of working with watercolor on clay.
— Ali Cavanaugh
Alexandra Tyng | Possible Space, oil on linen | 48x56

Alexandra Tyng | Possible Space, oil on linen | 48x56

Between painting portraits of five fascinating and accomplished people, I have been 
focusing on producing a body of work for my next show at Dowling-Walsh Gallery in Rockland, ME, opening June 2, 2017.

In this new group of paintings I’ve been focusing on the theme of time. I’m continuing to experimenting with various ways to show, suggest, or imply several layers of time in a single painting. I’ve progressed from simply combining figures from different time periods to contemplating the nature of time. My own experience tells me time is not linear: it seems fluid in that the present is infused with the past and future. A given time contains the germ of the future, but we cannot understand it fully until it reveals itself. And we can look back and reflect on past experience, but we cannot re-live it. 

Houses—interiors and exteriors—also figure strongly in these works. The house with its many rooms traditionally symbolizes the Self with its corresponding aspects. I’ve always been intrigued by abandoned, derelict houses, their air of mystery and potential for renewal. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I’m enjoying the journey.
— Alexandra Tyng

Conor Walton | The Barbarians at the Gates |  oil on linen | 50 x 60cm | www.conorwalton.com

‘Asymmetrical Warfare’ is the working title for my current series of paintings, which deal explicitly with cultural conflict, the crises of our times – political, ecological, financial, cultural and moral – and the warped perspectives that ensue. It also sums up, broadly, my career so far and approach to painting and culture. Each painting is a battleground for me; a way of waging small-scale war against modernity. I think illusionism still has great artistic potential because reality is still something we find difficult and threatening. I’ve heard it said that people can avoid facing reality, but they can’t avoid the consequences of not facing reality. I think my work is very much bound up with these issues; with naturalism at one remove, with fantasy and disillusionment. In our culture, to an historically unprecedented extent, affluence and industrial might have become weapons in a general war against reality, against Nature.
— Conor Walton

Sylvia Maier | 4 Mothers - We Shall Not Be Moved | oil on Linen | 75x60 |2016

The latest painting I completed is “4 mothers, we shall not be moved” which is showing at Bernarducci.Meisel this January. Still wet and off the easel. This painting puts the moms together in a group to show their support of one another as sisters in the struggle for justice. The circle of mothers project began in 2015 with large coins under the “currency” series and expanded over to the “vigil” series. The vigil series shows the moms holding candles and represent the different stages of grief. I experimented with materials using copper to paint on instead of the aluminum I created the large coins on. The mothers Included are Iris Baez, Constance Malcom, Sybrina Fulton and Hawa Bah. I used text from old hyms sung during the civil rights movement as inspiration. I also began work on another large piece of the mothers crossing Brooklyn Bridge, that one is still in progress. I had accumulated a lot of material and have more more under the umbrella of this series. I have various paintings going on at once currently. I also revisited movie night. A painting that takes place in our Brooklyn cafe during movie night.
— Sylvia Maier

Gabriela G Dellosso | The Storyteller" Homage to Sophie Gengembre Anderson  | oil on board | 16x12

2016 was an eventful year, starting with a solo exhibition entitled “Homage Paintings: Highlighting the Her”, curated by Gary Erbe at The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, OH. The opening reception on January 17, was well attended with Executive Director, Dr. Louis Zona present. Another solo exhibition followed in April at Harmon-Meek | modern. In May, Homage to Adelaide Labille-Guiard- self-portrait drawing was exhibited in Creative Mischief, at the historic National Academy Museum in New York City. The same drawing received awards in two exhibitions in the fall, one with Allied Artists of America and then with The Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club. The Portrait Society of America awarded me with Signature member status and I also received a finalist placement in the “Out of The Box” category in the PSA competitive annual member’s exhibition.

Presently, Donald Miller, art critic for the Naples Daily News and author of seven books including Lafayette: His extraordinary Life and Legacy is working on an essay to be published in 2017 on Gabriela’s painting The Burning of Adelaide Labile Guiard’s Masterpiece.
— Gabriela G Dellosso

Brianna Lee | Portrait of Liz | Oil and Iron Pigment on Panel | 16x20 | briannaleefineart.com

In January of 2016, I closed my teaching studio and moved out of Southern California to commit to my studio practice full-time. My fiancé (who is also an artist) and I decided to invest our savings into building an art studio on some family property in California. To build the largest space possible within our budget, we decided to perform all of the labor ourselves with my family’s help. From digging trenches and pouring over 45,000 lbs of concrete one bag at a time, to installing drywall and painting, we did everything from beginning to end. The studio build took us a total of 9 months to complete. I had very little time or space to work on paintings this year, however, I was able to complete Portrait of Liz before beginning construction.

Portrait of Liz was the only painting I had with me all year while my other work was locked away in storage. I exhibited her in a figurative show in Toronto at Super Wonder Gallery, received an honorable mention award from the American Women Artists Annual Online Juried Exhibition and recently exhibited her in the Women Painting Women Exhibition at Richard Demato Gallery (RJD) in Sag Harbor, NY. I feel incredibly fortunate that this painting has been included in these shows, considering each was a juried exhibit and quite competitive.

On resting days and between phases of construction, I worked on alla-prima paintings for my web store, just to keep my sanity intact. However, I am looking forward to returning to portraits and larger thematic works in the coming year, now that the studio is officially finished. As of now, Portrait of Liz hangs in my studio as a reminder of a year of accomplishments, new learning experiences and some good old fashioned hard work!
— Brianna Lee
View of a painting by Charis J. Carmichael Braun

View of a painting by Charis J. Carmichael Braun

In early spring of 2016, the loss of my full-time arts-admin work destabilized me. I set myself to see this situation (with the subsequent searching and interviewing for, and finally securing two part-time jobs) as a fertile place to grow my body of work which I intended to bloom into a robust studio practice. But every session in my studio was hard-won as my mental energy was spent sorting out What This Is Now rather than focusing my vision on my work. The work started to bog down as I floundered in the chaos between schedules/projects/responsibilities. I am grateful for the life jacket that was thrown to me in autumn, when I was included in “Point of Origin” at The Lodge Gallery. This show kept me afloat and I’ve since been able to secure lines to other exhibitions. Despite the instability, this year saw my paintings grow more bigger, more gutsy, more tenacious than they have been before. Even when I feel like I’m underwater!
— Charis J. Carmichael Braun

Mark Heine  | Whisper  | oil on canvas | 24x36 | www.markheine.com

Like any mammal, I need to surface, on occasion, for a breath of air. This is the reasoning behind my most recent work, entitled “Whisper, a scale study for a life-sized work. The first painting I’ve done in air, in more than two years, it’s another in my Sirens series intended to illuminate my coming Sirens book series.

More and more, I’m finding myself drawn to paintings below the ocean surface, where the rules of our world don’t apply. I find the complex lighting, suspension of gravity, and inherent surreality a much greater challenge. As a realist, I find that we are often limited to portraying the world as it exists, in order to achieve successful realism. Underwater, I can satisfy my desire for realism and still have the freedom to imagine, with no limits, which is a perfect combination for my nature. For the viewer - — and, ultimately, the reader — this realism opens the imagination and allows for the suspension of disbelief.

A fusion of ancient Greek and Coast Salish mythologies, my Sirens books are fictional works in the genre of magical realism, examining humankind’s ambiguous relationship with our natural world and the evolution of the human species. The first Sirens book is currently in the hands of my wife and editor, Lisa Leighton. This summer, we spent part of August at anchor in our sailboat, off a small, uninhabited and very remote island on the west coast of Vancouver Island, where much of my first Sirens manuscript is situated. Inspired by my return to this magical place, I began outlining my second book, a sequel to the first Sirens story.

For the foreseeable future, my conceptual path remains with my Sirens painting series. That said, the visual expression is of course constantly evolving, as my exploration of this underwater world moves forward.
— Mark Heine

 Judith Peck | Urban Dream | oil and plaster on board | 36x48 | judithpeck.net

This year I continued my 2015 series on social justice and race in America. I had the opportunity to show and sell many of these works, as well as many paintings from a previous series on identity. I was awarded for works shown in Kansas in the Walker Art Exhibit, in Washington, DC in the Emulsion exhibit, in the Pinnacle exhibit at Florida A and M, and in the Lore Degenstein figurative painting exhibition in Pennsylvania. Additionally, I was awarded an artist residency in Salzburg, Austria, where both room, studio and materials were provided to me, allowing me to paint uninterrupted for two months. I had the opportunity to do some plein air painting during an event in Colorado, participated in a Washington, DC show at the Woolly Mammoth Theater in conjunction with the play, An Octoroon, and had work shown and sold at the Transformer Auction at the Katzen Museum in Washington, DC. I was awarded my third consecutive purchase grant from the DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities and was also aquired into the Southern Allegenies Museum of Art’s permanent collecton. I mounted a solo show in Maryland and showed my work at Aqua Art Miami during Art Basel for the sixth year in a row. My work was included in the book Traditions and Transformations by Ori Soltes as well as the Portrait edition of Poets and Artist Magazine. This year has been an inspirational experience, as I have been able to paint about social justice causes with the encouragement and recognition of collectors, galleries and museums.
— Judith Peck

Jeff Bess | PAYPHONE | acrylic on canvas | 30 x 24 | www.facebook.com/jeffreybessart

2016 saw several new series of paintings. Vintage and retro objects isolated on dark backgrounds and roofline landscapes of rural corn cribs and cupolas.
— Jeff Bess

Milan Hrnjazović | Postcard from the Mediterranean | oil on canvas | 100x140 cm 

Milan Hrnjazović | Storm | oil on canvas | 75x110 cm

The year 2016 started with by my solo exhibition titled ‘Postcards from the Mediterranean’ which took place in Belgrade, Serbia. The exhibited paintings reflected my characteristic manner in building the work. I usually select an idyllic scene from everyday life as a starting point. During the process of painting, the scene becomes gradually dissolved into the chaotic network of new motifs and symbols. These newly created forms are not recognizable at first glance. Their outlines are defined by seemingly abstract elements of the composition, so can be noticed only after a careful gaze.

On this occasion, the picturesque and romantic Mediterranean is altered to reveal its darker and less enjoyable side which could be perceived when looking beneath the surface“. By the destruction of the realist forms newly created chaos invites us to consider that the Mediterranean is not only a desirable tourist destination but also a region full of extremes, where various cultures, religions, and ideologies are confronted. Each painting shows the coexistence of the numerous realities allowing us to make a choice – to accept the world as it is and focus on its bright side or think about changing it.
— Milan Hrnjazović

Shana Levenson | Death and the Maiden | oil on disband | 30x30

2016 was a big year for me. I graduated from the Academy of Art University with my MFA which was extremely exciting. I started teaching my own workshops in my studio in Albuquerque, NM. I was in several group exhibitions and received a number of awards through Oil Painters of America, NAOPS, and Galeria Artelibre in Spain. My work has evolved into more personal stories of my life, like a diary.
— Shana Levenson

Ed Smiley | Ship Of Fools | www.edsmileysart.com

I am continuing to explore abstract imagery, but with deep colors. I am reflecting the times I think. Here’s “Ship of Fools”. I was inspired by the Grateful Dead’s “Ship of Fools”, and its lyric lament and defiance but I gave it a comic twist where the foolish are a little silly and odd and seem blithely unaware of the chasm of deep blue opening under them.This work is acrylic, and direct acrylic transfer of electronically scanned images.
— Ed Smiley

Karen Kappcke | Opus 111 | oil on canvas | 40x30

I’ve had a really extraordinary year deepening a direction in my painting that began on a very memorable day late in 2015. On the airplane flying home from the funeral abroad after the death of a child who was a dear, dear friend of our family, I made a commitment to paint him, and to paint the relationship he had/has with my son, realizing that there was nothing more worth my work. This documenting of absence brought me to the awareness that painting is really always that, bringing presence to absence. Working further without the presence of models, from memory and imagination, has been what 2016 has been dedicated towards realizing. This evolved into creating narrative paintings with multiple figures from memory. I have been consumed with what this has opened up, and thus apart from a show this past summer in which I showed some works made with crayons fora show exploring this notion - of working with this unexpected material - I have held back from exhibiting.

I am not sure this is quite what you had in mind, but it is the truth - not much exhibiting etc. Really focused on working this new very significant direction out.
— Karen Kappcke

Serena Potter | The State of Union | oil on canvas | 32x24 | serenapotter.com

2016 was a full year, the highlight being a stint as artist in residence at the Long Beach Museum of Art. This included a solo show of paintings and drawings, drawing demonstration and artist talk. Being present to observe the public as they engaged with my work and respond to their questions was such an affirming experience. In April I was the guest artist on Mat Gleason’s cable TV show, Modern Art Blitz episode 18. Curator Steven DaLuz featured my work in PA’s 78 issue, 100 Great Drawings. My work was included in several group shows at Q Art Salon in Santa Ana, and Coastline Art Gallery in Newport Beach, CA. In addition to all of this I taught at Mt. San Antonio College, Saddleback College, National University and mentored in the MFA program at Laguna College of Art and Design. All in all it was a productive year.
— Serena Potter

Several new paintings by Victoria Selbach  -  www.victoriaselbach.com

I want to feel more physically active, dynamic and energetic when sculpting paint into images. I want to live and move with grander more athletic gestures. This was a year of experimentation and perhaps the start of a small step in that direction. Through the years of painting in acrylic, using a meticulous multi layered approach to building up color and shadow, I found myself honing results while feeling tighter and tighter. Every time I approached a new piece, although craving a more animated physical experience, I would slip into comfortable patterns. Falling back on my singular process was keeping me from experiencing the full body engagement in the act of painting I was craving. In order to shake it up, in 2016, I began experimenting with oil. My expectation was that a change in medium would distract my automatic responses and allow me to begin to move differently in front of the canvas. The biggest difference so far ended up being the need to rewire my brain to facilitate this seemingly contrarian approach and I realized only a modicum of a shift in the physical experience itself. But it’s a first step. I did set down the fan brush and pick up pallette knives, working more direct, much thicker and faster. Perhaps in 2017 I need a few more roadblocks before I dance across a grand studio moving gesturally in front of a canvas. Here’s to a future out of your mind and into your body.

Davika and Laukika Apsara Fleur, 60” x 28” each created with a base of acrylic and finished in 2016 with aggressively thick impasto oil florals. These pieces are also the first 2 works that I have mounted in custom hand built hardwood freestanding frames that are inspired by antique full length mirrors.

Butterfly, 20” x 16” Oil on Handmade Cherry Palette ( the more refined figure is nestled against impasto details).

In 2016 I executed over 35 individual portraits in direct oil including self portraits and a wide range of diverse beauty for ‘I Am Chevere’.
— Victoria Selbach

Thomas Wharton | Self Portrait at 65 | Oil on Linen | 18x22

For me, a large part of this year was taken up with moving from New Mexico to West Virginia and getting a new studio set up. I did finish (probably) the end of the series of male nudes I was working on (you included two of them in the 25 Artists of 2016), and began to sketch out and “cast” the beginnings of what I hope will be a couple of productive new series. I decided this year to do something I hadn’t done since the 1990s, a self portrait, which I’m including.
— Thomas Wharton
Matthew Cherry | Sentinel I | oil on canvas | 73x36

Matthew Cherry | Sentinel I | oil on canvas | 73x36

Matthew Cherry | Sentinel II | oil on canvas | 73x36

Matthew Cherry | Sentinel II | oil on canvas | 73x36

I have been cycling through a few projects this year ... between my nude portraits and my heads. I also started a new series documenting LGBTQ ex-mormons as a response to the Mormon church telling the world that there were no “gay mormons”. This work will debut in an exhibition in Cambridge. But I took a kind of detour just to change it up and give me a reprieve from my many portrait projects and what I was typically looking at and painting. I started doing these small oil studies of cacti and succulents. I began to think of them as portraits or small personalities instead of as stilllife. I wanted to see if I could indeed produce them as singular large portraits. Sentinel I & II are the result. And I think it will be something I come back to here and there.
— Matthew Cherry

Several paintings by Meg Wolensky.

After being published in the 50 Memorable Painters last year, I had a very productive year in my studio filled with new oil paintings, watercolors, and polaroid photography. I moved into a new studio space at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts after receiving an Alumni Fellowship and participated in several group and solo exhibitions along the east coast in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Kutztown, and Virginia. Venues included the Philadelphia Sketch Club, Drexel University, the Democratic National Convention Committee Headquarters, Cameron Street Gallery, Bunker Projects, and Rodger LaPelle Galleries. I debuted seven brand new oil paintings, three watercolors, and three polaroid images at Eckhaus Gallery in Kutztown, Pennsylvania in November 2016. Finally, I started a new teaching position using art education to reunite incarcerated fathers with their children with Mural Arts Philadelphia’s F.A.C.T. (Fathers and Children Together) program at Graterford Prison.
— Meg Wolensky

Ron Francis| Too Late | oil on canvas |  55 x 39.5 | www.ronaldfrancis.com

This year I have done what I have every year which is work mostly from imagination, inventing scenes and trying to make them as realistic as I can. This latest painting is from a dream where I had to be away from home for a couple of years because of war.
The time seemed to be around the second world war and I had returned home to find it desolated, as if it had been abandoned while I was away.
Inside, I found my wife who had died long ago.
— Ron Francis