A square, black and white photograph of a boy's face with another square of red centered over it, all atop an aluminum screen painted red, against a red background.

Paul Lee: Tambourine Heart

In collaboration with Karma, New York, and co-organized with Ellen Langan, Adams and Ollman is pleased to announce a solo exhibition with artist Paul Lee on view at the gallery from April 24 through May 26, 2021. The exhibition, Tambourine Heart, features a new series of collages made from Lee’s distinct index of materials–remnants of hand-dyed towels, canvas splattered with paint or mimicking the circumference of a tambourine, cutouts of photos, and window screens.
Since the late 1990s, Lee’s artistic output has often blurred the distinctions between sculpture, drawing, collage, and painting. Characterized by a palpable presence of the hand, the artist’s ongoing formal experimentation and investigation of materiality returns to the same functional objects rendered into reliquary. Imbuing material experience of the familiar with an undeniable numinousness and wonder, Lee’s formal language bends toward subversive, emotional and poetic ends.
crude sketch of a rural scene made combining soot and saliva on found paper—features the facade of a farmhouse, a shed, a white barn, a windmill, a fence. The ground is a light shade of grey; the sky, the naked, off-white of the paper.

Dear John

James Castle with Evgeny Antufiev, Katherine Bradford, Andrew Cranston, Vaginal Davis, Lois Dodd, Ficus Interfaith, Nick Goss, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Chris Johanson, David Korty, Isaac Tin Wei Lin, Sarah McEneaney, Ryan McLaughlin, Jeffry Mitchell, Dina No, Hilary Pecis, Conny Purtill, Emily Mae Smith, Becky Suss, Ricky Swallow and Willa Wasserman.
In collaboration with Fleisher/Ollman Gallery (Philadelphia), and conceived as a special tribute to the maverick art dealer John Ollman, Adams and Ollman is pleased to present a group exhibition featuring major works by James Castle (1899–1977) in conversation with a range of contemporary artists. The exhibition will celebrate John Ollman’s 50th anniversary as an art dealer and his legacy as one of the preeminent champions and scholars of self-taught art in the United States. Ollman has challenged conventional hierarchies, championed a wide range of artforms, and pursued varied interests from ethnographic to 20th and 21st century self-taught art in his fifty-year career. We celebrate John Ollman with a presentation of works by James Castle, whose work Ollman first exhibited in 1998 and continued to champion from the discovery stage through recognition by major museums.
Born profoundly deaf and believed never to have learned to read, write, or sign, James Castle spent his lifetime making art on his family’s farm in Idaho. Creating sophisticated drawings, books, and sculptures from humble materials such as discarded envelopes, matchboxes, twine, and soot, Castle produced a complex body of work: one that is not only deeply personal—as it intimately documents the artist’s life and surroundings—but also provides the viewer with a fascinating glimpse into rural American life and landscape of the last century.
Dear John includes examples of Castle’s sensitive, atmospheric drawings on unfolded matchboxes. On one side of these iconic works, Castle documents details of the remote landscape surrounding him—barns, telephones poles, trees, and mountains. On the other, he details the interior of his family’s home and barns. These domestic objects and animals are also the subject of several sculptural constructions fashioned from cardboard, string, and pigment, which are on view along with examples of his artist books, “symbol pages” and patterned drawings.
The exhibition will bring these select works by Castle together with paintings, drawings, sculpture, and works on paper by contemporary artists that share key themes and universal impulses that cross time, place, and intention. Much like Ollman’s direct and indirect influence on the field of self-taught art and new generations of gallerists, artists, and writers, Castle’s work continues to reverberate.
“My training was in sculpture and when I first saw James Castle’s work in person, I felt it was so dialed into the physicality of making work—from his drawings to constructions, to his language and books.  Contemporary artists bonded with the undiluted passion, depth and meaning found in his creativity and remain his most steadfast champions.”
—John Ollman
Coinciding with the presentation at Adams and Ollman will be a companion exhibition at JTT (New York) and an online archival presentation by Fleisher/Ollman. The exhibition will be accompanied by a text by William Pym.
Numerous carved wooden sculptures displayed in a room with wooden floors and white walls, some seeming to be functional (e.g. a chair, a bench) and others seeming to take on abstract forms, including one vertical, rectangular piece displayed on a stand with jagged, irregularly spaced edges cut into it. Most of the pieces have flat faces and 90 degree edges and seem to be cut from similar wood.

Vince Skelly: New Works

Adams and Ollman is pleased to announce two solo exhibitions: New Works by Vince Skelly and Overlook by Mariel Capanna, both opening on February 12 and on view through March 13.
Vince Skelly (b. 1987, Claremont, California;  lives and works in Portland, OR) creates carved wooden sculptures, both formal and functional. Using wood from a variety of trees native to the Pacific Northwest in addition to American chestnut and eucalyptus, Skelly works reductively to shape each stool, chair, or abstract form from a single block. Following grain, patterns, knots, and other irregularities inherent to the material, Skelly highlights simple and essential abstract shapes informed by intrinsic characteristics of the material. The sculptures are inspired by various traditions of wood carving—which is one of the oldest artforms—as well as by a history of objects that extends back to megalithic dolmens, ancient figurines, the sculptures of Brancusi, and paintings of Phillip Guston. With a chainsaw and traditional hand tools, Skelly slowly reveals biomorphic volumes, off-kilter angles, and carved portals within his glyph-like forms, each bearing their own spirit, rhythm and personality.
Skelly received his BA from San Francisco State University. This is the artist’s debut solo exhibition.

 

oil and marble dust painting on panel, featuring minimal and intuitive strokes, forming impressions of everyday objects (e.g. a sink faucet, a branch of a tree, perhaps a book) that hover on the edges of the piece and create peripheral movement, using a palette of neutral Spring tones, such as soft greens and yellows.

Mariel Capanna: Overlook

Adams and Ollman is pleased to announce two solo exhibitions: New Works by Vince Skelly and Overlook by Mariel Capanna, both opening on February 12 and on view through March 13.

Inspired by moving images, Mariel Capanna (b. 1988, Philadelphia, PA; lives and works in Salt Lake City, UT) explores the subtleties of place and perception in her paintings. Working from films, documentaries, slideshows of found photos, and home videos, Capanna employs a collagist’s approach to composition and image-making. With quick gestures and marks that toggle between representation and abstraction, Capanna captures fleeting images as they move off-screen or into the past. The accumulation of marks record the evolution of an image or sequence of vantage points with harmonizing color and gesture; the image unnameable, but the painting field littered with their traces.
In Capanna’s work, the perception of distance is a key theme: the distance between one geographic place and another, between present and past, between first and last painted mark, between real and mediated experience. Flat marks float against an illusionistic depth; the flatness a reference to the past several months when so much has been experienced through a screen, the depth a reference to a memory of the sky in Utah where these works were painted. These competing gestures—a depth of field and marks that live on the surface— balance in exquisite tension. In the new series of oil paintings on view in Overlook, the viewer is situated in the foreground where one looks past the immediate surroundings to find a background dense with detail and information. Our fixed perspective provides a simultaneous awareness of both speed and stillness, near and far, past and present, and experiences across place and time.
Coinciding with her presentation at Adams and Ollman will be a site-specific installation of Capanna’s work in the artists’ dining nook in Salt Lake City—a space with a built-in table and benches facing a window that frames the outside world. Presented by Good Weather gallery, the works in this intimate setting echo key concepts found in the works on view in Overlook.
Capanna received a BFA and Certificate of Fine Art from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and an MFA from Yale University. She has been an artist in residence at the Guapamacátaro Art and Ecology Residency in Michoacan, Mexico; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture; and at the Tacony Library and Arts Building (LAB) in Philadelphia. Capanna has also been the recipient of the Robert Schoelkopf Memorial Traveling Fellowship and an Independence Foundation Visual Arts Fellowship.

 

Two paintings hanging on a white wall. The painting on the left is square and features a side profile portrait of a man with brown skin a, black hair, and a black mustache, looking to the right on a blue background. The words "Will E Mays" hover the man's large nose. The paining on the right is rectangular, and features a man in profile, facing left, with darker brown skin, black hair, and a black mustache on a deep blue background, wearing a lime green shirt.

Billy White

Adams and Ollman is pleased to present a solo exhibition of paintings by Billy White (b. 1962, lives in Hercules, California, and works in Richmond, California). Marking the artist’s first solo exhibition on the West Coast, the show will feature a selection of his expressive portraits made between 2016 and 2019. The exhibition is on view January 9 through February 6, 2021.

With graphic marks and emphatic colors, White conjures portraits that are celebratory and personal. Muscular and energetic brushstrokes coalesce to form complex images that are more emotional than representational. White’s subjects include his family and himself, as well as iconic figures from the worlds of film, television, music, sports, and art history. Captured in profile and at the front of the picture plane, each figure appears isolated, their likeness distilled to essential elements and forms assembled with bold lines and gestures. Often with unexpected shifts in perspective, the resulting works are psychologically-charged depictions of the human form.
Since 1994, Billy White has worked at Nurturing Independence Through Artistic Development (NIAD), a progressive art studio in Richmond, California, that supports the careers of artists with disabilities.

 

A glorious, contrasty landscape painting with red stars falling to the earth near a large lake surrounded by dark green hills. Dark clouds loom overhead, and a rainbow juts diagonally across the square frame.

New Works: Joan Nelson

Adams and Ollman is pleased to present a new body of work by Joan Nelson as the artist’s third exhibition with the gallery. For nearly four decades, Joan Nelson has been reverently and subversively painting landscapes. Since the start of her career in New York in the 1980s, Nelson’s singular focus has been on the awe and the artifice of the tradition within which she is working. The new works—painted in reverse on plexiglass—feature mountain ranges, waterfalls, rainbows, expansive skies, and epic vistas, building on Nelson’s interests in the experience and depiction of the landscape, as well as in the materiality of paint and the history of painting.

Nelson’s invented and appropriated images push back against a male-dominated history of the landscape painting genre and question a deeply-rooted, North American vantage point centered on narratives of Western expansion, conquest and resource extraction. Combining details of trees, mountains, composition, and other elements borrowed from iconic depictions of landscape with imagery from photos, travel books, old postcards, imagination and memory, Nelson problematizes the notion of the discovery of this land by painting it as fiction.

Nelson’s choice of materials also suggests to the viewer that her paintings be understood as emphatically feminist landscapes. She adds mascara and glitter, as well as items collected from her garden and home, such as burnt sugar, plant life, and beads, to the maximalist palette of her wax, oil, and ink. The works are not planned, and imagery arrives through accident, experimentation and play as Nelson spray paints, stipples, draws and etches into the surface of each, coaxing a mood, a bit of light, or an impossible view. As the works unfold, the imagery toggles between abstraction and naturalism. Many of Nelson’s new works depict a barren, isolated landscape. Images are hazy, subject to the artist’s deft description of the fleeting effects of light and air, and depict the shifting nature of our world. She offers worlds that exist before and after us, and asks us to consider the environmental threats posed by human behavior.

Joan Nelson (b. 1958, California) lives and works in upstate New York. Her work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Minneapolis Museum of Art; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C.; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

 

Installation image of Earth at Adams and Ollman gallery. The photograph shows a corner of the gallery with five paintings hung on white walls. On the left is a large canvas with abstract, psychedelic botanical imagery next to a much smaller canvas with imperceptible content from the image's distance. On the right wall are three square paintings of the same size, each depicting flowers. One uses deep blue hues, one pinks and dark greens, and one pinks and reds.

Eartha

Adams and Ollman is pleased to present the group exhibition Eartha. Using painting as a common language, the artists included in Eartha examine the concept of the natural world and their relationship to it. Together, the works offer a different way of being in the world, one that is personal, interconnected, and spiritual, while raising questions of representation, politics, gender and pleasure. Artists included in the exhibition are Hayley Barker, Amy Bay, Mariel Capanna, Emma Cook, Ann Craven, Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, and Maureen St. Vincent.

Images are revealed as rhythmic dashes, and dots of luscious color accumulate on the surfaces of Hayley Barker’s (lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) visionary paintings. Mediumistic and deeply spiritual, the images in Barker’s works are formed by ecstatic movements that create parallel worlds, ones in which divisions of figure and ground, interior and exterior, dream and reality, dissolve amidst undulating layers of light and shadow.

Amy Bay (lives and works in Portland, OR) mines stereotypically feminine realms—floral motifs, pattern, and decoration—in an ongoing series of lush, small-scale paintings that capture flowers in vibrant hues of red, blue, and yellow. Since 2017, Bay has explored the varied ways that flowers are depicted in everything from classical still-life paintings to folk art, wall coverings and textiles. Embracing the decorative, Bay celebrates the beauty and life-giving forces of flowers, depicting them in immersive realms of pure color, shape, and pleasure.

Working from films, documentaries, slideshows of found photos, and home videos, Mariel Capanna (lives and works in Salt Lake City, UT) captures landscapes in motion. With deft brushstrokes and thickly applied paint, Capanna depicts details as they move across the screen and out of the picture. Her dense surfaces are accumulations of flowers, cars, fountains, chairs, fires, and other images that come quickly into focus and then out of sight, marking a simultaneous awareness of both stillness and the passage of time.

In Emma Cook’s (lives and works in Austin, TX) monochromatic paintings, signs and symbols emerge from patterned fields of undulated lines or dense foliage. In these shape-shifting environments, female figures, candelabras, symbolic gates and newspaper headlines spring into focus from graphic grounds, functioning like a visual archaeology of place as they hint at unsettling narratives and latent histories.

Since 1995, Ann Craven (lives and works in New York, NY and Cushing, ME) has been capturing the moon in a series of paintings made in plein-air from the coast of the Eastern Seaboard—in Connecticut, Maine and New York City—to the cities of Paris and Reims in France. Each marked by a date, a time and a place, Craven’s catalog of moons, rendered in oil paint with assured strokes and luscious color, explores the astronomical body as a feminine symbol and as a marker of rhythms, cycles, and time.

Ka’ila Farrell-Smith’s (Klamath Modoc; lives and works in Modoc Point, OR) bold, colorful paintings are rooted in Indigenous aesthetics and the history of abstraction. Engaged in formal experimentation and play, the works use a distinct visual vocabulary that includes text, pattern, symbol, line, and gesture to explore the landscape in between Indigenous and western paradigms.

Maureen St. Vincent (lives and works in the Bay Area, CA) employs a surrealist vocabulary as she isolates and re-contextualizes elements of both the figure and the landscape. Sinewy lines create a road map through a terrain of erotic female body parts while we catch glimpses of the landscape through vagina-like portals. Rendered in soft pastels, the works show us an uncanny interconnectedness of body and land.

 

In the left half of the image, a sculpture by Sharif Farrag sits on a tall white plinth. To the right, a small landscape painting by Lois Dodd hangs on the wall.

Lois Dodd & Sharif Farrag

Adams and Ollman is pleased to announce an intergenerational pairing of two solo exhibitions opening on September 12: a selection of paintings from 1986 to 2017 by Lois Dodd (b. 1927), presented in collaboration with Alexandre Gallery, New York, will be on view alongside new ceramic sculptures by Sharif Farrag (b. 1993). This marks Farrag’s first exhibition at the gallery as well as the first significant presentation of Dodd’s work on the West Coast.

Lois Dodd’s paintings depict landscapes and locations—the Lower East Side in New York City, rural Mid-Coast Maine and the Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey—where the artist has lived and worked for over seventy years. Often completed in one session, Dodd’s intimate, small-scaled works feature the plants, trees, buildings, laundry, and moonlit sky that she has observed and recorded across seasons and over years. Dodd’s flat, distilled imagery is rendered with thin paint in luscious colors—ochres, pinks, greens and blues—and quick strokes that exist on their own as pure abstraction freed from descriptive responsibility. Her sensitive and emotive surfaces capture both the immediacy of direct experience of each place—the motion, light and feeling—as well as the spiritual aspects of the landscape.

A work from 2008 contains the image of an apple tree dappled with spring light in a foggy field; a work created seven years later shows what could be the same tree, now mature and full with fruit, framed through Dodd’s barn window. Dodd’s prolonged engagement with her subjects makes meaning— close attention to details, rhythms and changes across days and seasons adds up to a lifetime of wonder and a lasting record of place and experience.

California artist Sharif Farrag’s sculptural ceramic vessels contain a clash of references and values, offering cacophonies of thorny vines, skulls, comic book figures, dollar store trinkets, muscle cars, mosquitos and mythical creatures fashioned from a riot of colors and glazes. The artist’s objects and installations pull from his experience growing up as the child of immigrants in California’s San Fernando Valley. As a first generation Muslim American coming of age in the years immediately following 9/11, Farrag found refuge and community in the punk, graffiti and skateboard subcultures of the Los Angeles suburbs.

These early experiences helped to shape a personal iconography that is also deeply influenced by the visual, cultural and social traditions brought by his parents from their native countries of Egypt and Syria. Indebted to California’s funk art movement, Farrag’s vessels and figurative ceramics incorporate humor, autobiographical and surrealist elements, as well as unconventional forms and media, filtered through the perspective of his own generation.

Lois Dodd (b. 1927) has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions throughout the United States, including shows at Ogunquit Museum of American Art, ME (2018); Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, M (2014); Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME (2004); Montclair Art Museum, NJ (1996); and Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH (1990). A retrospective organized in 2012 by the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO, travelled to Portland Museum of Art, ME, the following year. From 1971 to 1992, Dodd taught at Brooklyn College, NY. She has also held positions at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and Vermont Studio Center. Her work can be found in numerous public collections including The Art Institute of Chicago; Hall Art Foundation, Holle; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven. Dodd lives and works between Maine, the Delaware Water Gap, and New York, NY.

Sharif Farrag (b. 1993) lives and works in Los Angeles. He has been an artist in residence at the Ceramics Department of California State University Long Beach since 2018, and in 2019 he was awarded a residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He holds a BFA from the University of Southern California.

A black and white video still of three Black people, two women and one man, dancing on what looks like a city building rooftop.

Fold, Stack, Turn

Adams and Ollman is pleased to announce Fold, Stack, Turn, a group exhibition on view at the gallery in Portland from August 1 through September 3. The exhibition includes video, sculpture and works on paper by artists who perform simple gestures—folding fabric, turning the body, linking leather or stacking found objects—to create complex meaning.

ektor garcia (1985, Red Bluff, CA; lives and works between Mexico City and New York) creates seemingly utilitarian objects—a vessel, a screen or rope—made through various movements of his hands: twisting, wrapping, looping, knotting and braiding. These repetitive gestures continue traditions of labor and making from his family in Mexico.

Brontez Purnell (b. 1982, Triana, AL; lives and works in Oakland, CA) presents Free Jazz, a dance “mixtape” shot on 8mm film by cinematographer Gary “Fembot” Gregerson that documents “various dance parties, structured improvs, rituals and happenings” performed by the artist’s dance company between 2010 and 2012. Moving between genres, histories, identities and intentions, the body frees itself through improvisation from expectations.

Gabriela Vainsencher’s (b. 1982, Buenos Aires, Argentina; lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) sculptures start as flat slabs of porcelain which the artist then folds and turns into three dimensions. The resulting works are hybrids of body parts—breasts, muscles, hips, labia, and arms—in the classic shapes, forms and flourishes of ancient Greek vessels.

Stefanie Victor’s (b. 1982, New York, where she lives and works) works speak to the body and the senses of sight and touch. Victor’s artistic practice prioritizes intimacy and incorporates the confines of the body, studio and home to create meaning. In night (2011), Victor explores the imaginative potential for new uses for domestic objects. Starting with a pillow—itself an intimate object and one that has its own meaning and history—Victor haptically wills an image into being, rolling chalk with her hands over the soft surface. As the viewer watches Victor physically transform the pillow into a painting, the context and encounter shift from the realm of the familiar and useful toward something more personal and evocative.

Fold, Stack, Turn also includes collages by John Walker (b. 1939, Birmingham, England; lives and works in South Bristol, ME). Often described as an anti-scenic painter, his works on paper are angular and aggressive—graphic, forceful lines are stacked, twisted and ripped into a cohesive but clashing composition. His stripes and zigzags are a visual equivalent to the movement, emotion, beauty and fierceness of the coastal landscape that he has made the subject of his work for many years.

Over the course of more than forty years, Bill Walton (b. 1931, Camden, NJ—d. 2010, Philadelphia, PA) made a poetic body of work using common materials such as floorboards, wisteria branches, and paper napkins from his favorite diner, while employing simple gestures like stacking, folding, and turning. In this sense, he adopted the formal language of Minimalism—yet his works are also highly personal, handmade and small-scale. He chose never to date his works, believing rather that they were always in process and that materials were informed by their own histories, which they would bear as they subtly transformed over time.