Portrait of Leonardo Drew by Christopher Garcia Valle, Courtesy AMFA and Galerie Lelong & Co.
Brooklyn artist Leonardo Drew employs oxidation, burning, and decay to transform materials into large scale sculptural works, blurring the distinctions between what is natural and what is created. This fall, Drews work will be on exhibit at the Pendleton Center for the Arts through special arrangement with the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation.
Leonardo Drew: Selections from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation opens on Thursday, August 3 with a reception from 5:30 – 7:00 PM. The event is free and open to the public. The exhibit will be on view through October 27.
Drew was born in Tallahassee, Florida, and grew up in the projects in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where the city dump occupied every view of his apartment. He often found himself there, putting discarded items into new configurations. From a very early age he was recognized for his natural talent for drawing and started exhibiting his work at the age of 13. At that time, he loved the figurative, realistic work of Norman Rockwell. He was invited to do work for Marvel Comics and DC Comics as a teen but discovering the work of Jackson Pollock at a local library changed his trajectory. He went on to attend the Parsons School of Design, and then received a BFA from the Cooper Union in 1985.
He works with the raw materials of cotton, metal, paint, and–most notably—wood, attacking the materials so that they, in effect, go through the cycle of birth, life, death, and regeneration. In his collaborations with virtuoso technicians at both Pace Prints and Pace Paper in New York, he explores the way paper pulp and pigment can be transformed to match the intensity of his works in other mediums.
Leonardo Drew is best known for his monumental installations that exude tension and turbulence. His work has been described as “an explosion hovering in time and bursting with huge, animated energy.” Knowing a bit about his installations provides some interesting comparison and contrast to the work that is included in the Pendleton exhibit, which while large and complex, also includes some smaller, more intimate pieces.
The selections are part of the more than 20,000 works in the collection of Jordan Schnitzer and His Family Foundation. Over the last 25 years the Foundation has organized over 160 exhibitions and has had art exhibited at over 120 museums. The Pendleton Center for the Arts has been able to host such major exhibits in large part because of Schnitzer’s special affection for Pendleton and the Round-Up.
“I attended my first Round Up in 1981 and since then have been so appreciative of the wonderful hospitality of everyone in Pendleton and have cherished the wonderful friendships that I have made with people in Pendleton,” said Schnitzer. “I feel like it’s my second home.”
The Drew exhibit marks the sixth collaboration between the two organizations. Past events include solo exhibits by Chuck Close, Louise Bourgeois, Ellsworth Kelly, Kara Walker, and Enrique Chagoya, each of which is an icon of American contemporary art.
“Making great art accessible is my passion,” Schnitzer added. “I hope that everyone in the region visits to understand why Leonardo Drew is recognized as one of the country’s most important artists.”
Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10 AM – 4 PM and Saturday 12 – 4 PM and admission is always free. Gallery talks, group visits, and access outside of regular business hours are available by calling 541-278-9201. FREE drop-in, hands-on activities inspired by the work in the exhibit will be available every Saturday for all ages. More information is available online at PendletonArts.org.