Category Archives: archived

Karen Schwartz – “Down the Rabbit Hole”

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In our Project Room: Margrit Lewczuk

April 24 – May 31, 2015
Opening reception: Friday, April 24, 6 – 9 pm

Karen Schwartz, Down the Rabbit Hole, 72 x 60 in., Mixed media on linen, 2014

Life On Mars Gallery is proud to present the first New York solo exhibition – Down the Rabbit Hole – of painter Karen Schwartz.

A color catalogue will accompany this exhibition with an essay by art historian, critic, and painter Robert C. Morgan. The exhibition at Life on Mars Gallery will open Friday April 24th with a reception for the artist from 6:00 – 9:00 pm. The exhibition will run through Sunday, May 31st.

Schwartz lives and works in Atlanta and Long Island, and is represented there by The Bill Lowe Gallery, (where this December she had her second one-person exhibition), and in New York by Life On Mars Gallery. She had a one-person exhibition in Spoleto Italy, at the Spoleto Art Festival in 2012 and has participated in numerous group exhibitions.

Working furiously and fearlessly, with materials as varied as oil stick, collage, ink, oil, and acrylic paints, Schwartz draws repeatedly upon a vocabulary of images that are deeply personal, all the while maintaining a high-wire juggling act between process, narrative, and discovery.

While is there is an affinity in her work to both generations of the German Expressionists (Max Beckman, Ernst Kirchner, as well as the Post-Modern Neo-Expressionists Rainer Fetting and George Baselitz), her sense of color, light, and line recalls Matisse and the East End Long Island painters of the 1950s and 1960s. This aforementioned and unlikely combination, and her fearlessness, passion, humor, playfulness, and innate ability to draw, creates an authentic and singular voice, a voice in tune with and at the heart of today’s atemporal approach to painting.

In the catalogue for this show, Morgan writes:

“Viewers may assume the deeply-layered and itinerant brushwork evident in these works . . . pertain to the manner in which Schwartz has chosen to envision freedom as a part of nature, and therefore, has chosen to paint defiantly against rational restrictions. In fact, the artist’s spectrum of joys and sorrows, amid other deeply-felt emotions, is near the core of what these paintings are attempting to reveal. Schwartz’s paintings have nothing to illustrate or to prove. She is a self-sustaining, self-willed expressionist painter, committed to resurrecting form from her personal life that transmits a tactile resonance. Her paintings . . . come close to the human soul and are capable of sending a message to those capable of receiving it, which the artist believes is a function of painting.”

Margrit Lewczuk, Animule Collage, 20 x 15 in., collage, 2015

Lewczuk’s career was marred in 1999 by a fire that destroyed the contents of her Chelsea studio. Sixteen years later, she has assembled a new oeuvre of vibrant paintings, drawings, and cutouts while living and working in her Brooklyn home with her husband, fellow impassioned artist and professor Bill Jensen … In devotion to the theme of her own transformation and renewal after disaster, her new work features symbols of rebirth such as eggs, angels, crosses, and the chrysalis. With these hopeful themes, she doesn’t mourn the past; she celebrates the potential of the present and future, affirming the power of long change, in gestation, incubation, and meditation.
Michael David 3-20-2015

Karen Schwartz – Down the Rabbit Hole – Life on Mars Gallery, April 24 – May 31st. Opening reception April 24th 6:00 – 9:00 pm.

Brenda Goodman – “New Works”

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March 20 – April 19, 2015
Opening reception: Friday, March 20, 6-9 pm

Brenda Goodman with Stone Memories, 72 x 80 in., oil on wood, 2014

Life On Mars Gallery is proud to present a solo exhibition of Brenda Goodman’s paintings and works on paper. A full color catalogue will accompany the exhibition with an essay by critic David Brody. The exhibition at Life on Mars Gallery will run concurrently with her inclusion in the The Academy of Arts and Letters Invitational, opening March 12.

A painter’s painter, Goodman takes the language of abstraction and bends it towards her will, creating a world of deep personal meaning. She creates imagery achingly intimate and powerful. Through her masterful use of oil paint, Goodman produces rich surfaces, of bold and emotionally charged color, and displays draftsmanship honed through decades of studio practice.

Her imagery reaches back to and honors our history of painting (De Chrico and Guston come to mind), but is wholly original and contemporary, due to the fierce uncompromising personal narratives that are at the heart of her work.

In the catalogue for this show, artist/writer David Brody writes this about her current work:

In a long and productive career, Goodman has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships. She has had 34 one-artist exhibitions at numerous galleries throughout the country, including John Davis Gallery (Hudson, NY), Rutgers University, Howard Scott Gallery and Pam Adler Gallery (New York City), Nielsen Gallery (Boston), Revolution Gallery (Ferndale, MI), Marianne-Deson Gallery and Phyllis Kind (Chicago).

Her work has been exhibited in over 170 group shows, most notably in New York City at The Whitney Biennale, The New Museum, Edward Thorp Gallery, Pamela Auchincloss Gallery, and throughout the US at Nielsen Gallery (Boston), Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art (Ridgefield, CT), and the Butler Institute of American Art (Youngstown, OH).

Goodman’s paintings are found in The Agnes Gund Collection, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), and the Birmingham Museum of Art.

In our project room we will feature paintings of artists affiliated with the Gallery whose work we love and continue to champion, Todd Bienvenu, Farrell Brickhouse, and Karen Schwartz.

Back to the Future – “Part II”

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February 20 – March 15, 2015
Opening reception: Friday, February 20, 6-9 pm

Works by:
Peter Acheson, Katherine Bradford, Rick Briggs, Bill Jensen, Margrit Lewczuk, Chris Martin, Joyce Pensato, James Siena and Amy Sillman

Amy Sillman, Williamsburg Portraits, Ink, gouache, pencil on paper (set of 32 w.o.p, 11 x 8 ea), 1991-92

Back to the Future II – Brooklyn As The Painting Capital of the World

During a recent studio visit with Katherine Bradford, we were looking at her work for our upcoming exhibition and discussing our frustration about how painting was not represented in the recent survey show at the Brooklyn Museum, entitled, “Crossing Brooklyn: Art from Bushwick, Bed-Stuy and Beyond”. We looked at each other and said (I don’t remember who said it first), “Brooklyn is the painting capital of the world”. Yep, there it is, it’s out there. During one of our conversations, Irving Sandler told me that at this moment there are more painters and more painters with serious studio practices in Brooklyn than in any place in the world, and many of the most important contemporary galleries and museum shows feature works by Brooklyn painters.

Part II of Back to the Future will focus on some of the painters who were working in Williamsburg in the early 1980s (many of whom were friends): Peter Acheson, Katherine Bradford, Rick Briggs, Bill Jensen, Margrit Lewczuk, Chris Martin, Joyce Pensato, James Siena and Amy Sillman, who are also among the most influential and critically-acclaimed painters working today. They influenced the next two generations of Brooklyn painters, which layed the groundwork for the area to become this nexus, this hotbed – the center and focus for painting in the 21st century, while continuing to attract painters from all over the country and the world.

These painters all had different career trajectories, but their work has constantly developed and continues to evolve, even during decades when painting was not considered relevant in many art-world circles. Their painting practices are built on the authentic and uncompromising love of painting; the life it creates, the process of personal discovery revealed through the work, and the commitment, sacrifice, and discipline required for its practice. This commitment has produced work of great power, beauty and originality, which simultaneously embraces the history of painting and extends its language going forward.

We are grateful for their support and participation and to be part of this painting community.

Part II of Back to The Future will open February 20th and run through March 15th, 2015.

Fran O’Neill – “Painting Her Way Home”

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January 16 – February 15, 2015
Opening reception: Friday, January 16th, 6-9 pm

Fran O’Neill, Warby View, 84 x 84 in, oil on canvas, 2014

Life On Mars Gallery is pleased to present “painting her way home”, an exhibition of new paintings and works on paper by Fran O’Neill. The show opens with a reception on Friday, January 16th and will run through February 15th. A 17-plate color catalogue accompanies the exhibition, which features an essay by noted artist and writer Thomas Micchelli.

Fran O’Neill’s art is something you take in with your whole body… O’Neill’s blunt, tough-minded, ecstatically convulsive oil paintings are endlessly revealing: pigment and binder, solvent and surface fuse and split, continuously reconfigured under the constant pressure of the artist’s agitated eye and restless hand. The colors cling to the picture plane even as the translucent fields they inhabit unfurl to reveal the depths of space churning below.
– Thomas Micchelli

O’Neill is making some of most ambitious and successful large-scale abstract gestural paintings seen today. Extending the tradition of the great ABEX masters DeKooning, Kline and Mitchell, she glides between large and small scale.  The apparent ease with which she paints reflects a hard-earned mastery of observational drawing. O’Neill packs her paintings with emotion, and challenges us to discover other worlds within; whether via the large, fluid oils or the smaller works on canvas, or yet again with a different sensibility through her sensual works on paper. Bold and intimate, full of color and movement, with an immediacy and simplicity in the mark, the work draws us into her world of seeing.

In our Project Room we are pleased to present the paintings of Benjamin Pritchard. Intimate in scale and packed with enigmatic psychological meaning, Pritchard’s work bends the language of abstract painting into a most personal and singular expression. By virtue of their minute and intense adjustments, each is motivated by a desperate search for truth and meaning.

Press contact: Dana James,

Michael David
December 2014

Back to the Future – “Part I”

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December 12, 2014 – January 11, 2015
Opening reception: Friday, December 12th, 6-9 pm

Mandy Lyn Perez, Baby Bell, 5 x 5 in., mixed media on canvas adhered to wood panel, 2014

One of the bedrock principles of the Life on Mars Gallery mission, and an important part my curatorial vision, is to explore painting’s continued relevance in the 21st century. One way to accomplish this objective is by examining the continuity between different generations of painters, and the ability of painting to reinvent itself. We want to explore painting’s future by understanding its connection to the past.In this two-part, eight-week exhibition, we focus on that connectivity.

Part I of Back to the Future not only directly references the artists in Part II, but also looks back a couple of generations, with a nod to the historic Sidney Janis Gallery and their Young Americans exhibitions. These groundbreaking events happened every two years and featured artists that Sidney, or his son Carroll, selected; artists that they believed were important, on the verge of recognition and deserving both more attention and a wider audience. The reference to Americans carried over from a time when the notion of an “American Painting” was important. We mention these exhibitions because their impact lasted considerably beyond an immediate, post-World War II relevance in the art world.

Janis used the word “young” rather colloquially. I had the good fortune to participate in one of those exhibitions in 1980 at the tender age of 25, along with the painters Charles Clough, Carol Diehl, Valerie Jaudon, Joseph Marioni, Joan Thorne and Thornton Willis, whose ages ranged from 25 to 45.

There weren’t any thematic consistencies that championed one specific “school“ of work in the Janis exhibitions. Rather, they focused on individual painters, attempting to bring their work to a wider audience at a moment when – regardless of style or
chronological age – they were coming of age. In our Back to the Future exhibitions, we want to emulate Janis by showing paintings that reflect the vibrancy of and commitment to the varied and deeply-held studio practices of each painter in the exhibition.

Todd Bienvenu, Interns Abusing the Xerox Machine,
67 x 76 in, oil on canvas, 2014

Part I of Back to the Future will feature the painters Yevgeniya Baras, Todd Bienvenu, Travis Fairclough, Daniel John Gadd, EJ Hauser, Samuel Jablon, Dana James, Meg Lipke, Mike Olin, Mandy Lyn Perez, Matt Phillips and Jason Rohlf, whose ages range from 24 to 45.

Part II of Back to the Future will examine some of those who were painting in Williamsburg in the early eighties (many of whom were friends): Peter Acheson, Katherine Bradford, Rick Briggs, Bill Jensen, Margrit Lewczuk, Chris Martin, Joyce Pensato, James Siena and Amy Sillman, who are now among the most influential and critically-acclaimed painters working today. Their audience and influence has grown global – as they exhibit in premier galleries and museums both nationally and across the world.

These painters all had different career trajectories, but their work has constantly developed and continues to evolve over time. We are grateful for their support and participation.

What also makes these two exhibitions special is that many of the younger artists in Part I of Back to the Future were befriended, mentored, and given crucial support by the artists in Part II. The generosity and influence of these older painters to the next generation spans decades and is legendary.

Certainly, there are formal visual threads between the older artists and the younger artists in this two-part exhibition: the breakdown of the tropes and methodologies between abstraction and figuration and the use of non-conventional materials in a more inclusive, non-linear, non-Modernist mash-up are among the most readily apparent of these threads. But ultimately, the commonality between these two generations is that each created their own communities (and now a shared community between generations) built on authentic and uncompromising love of painting, the life it creates, the process of personal discovery revealed through the work, and the commitment, sacrifice, and discipline required for its practice. This commitment has produced work of great power, beauty and originality, which simultaneously embraces the history of painting and extends that language and conversation going forward.

Part I of Back to Future will open December 12th and run through January 11th and Part II of Back to The Future will open February 20th and run through March 15th, 2015.

Michael David
November 2014

Farrell Brickhouse

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November 7 – December 7, 2014
And in our project room: James Prez

Farrell Brickhouse, Diver, 15 5-8” x 12 5-8” (framed), oil on canvas, 2012

Life On Mars Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition featuring the paintings of Farrell Brickhouse. Our opening reception will be Friday, November 7th and the exhibition will run through December 7th. We have created a 19-plate color catalogue with an essay by noted art historian Robert C. Morgan to accompany this exhibition. Click HERE to see the digital version

Brickhouse illuminates the subconscious via his exquisite intimacy of process, combined with use of metaphor and historical myth, a process honed over more than a thirty-five year commitment to painting. His works reveal a desperate authenticity of purpose, and blend an intimacy of scale with the grandness of mythology which he infuses with personal stories of a life of pain and redemption. The tension created by this mix engenders a powerful and deeply moving experience: he is a “painter’s painter”.

Brickhouse has been a beloved teacher at New York’s School of Visual Arts for more than thirty years, and his work can be found in numerous public and private collections; including The Wadsworth Museum, The San Diego Museum of Art and the California Center for Arts. He most recently has had one-person exhibitions at Fred Giampetro Gallery in New Haven and John Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY, and he has a long and storied exhibition history, exhibiting with Max Protech Gallery and Pamela Auchincloss Gallery for more than two decades.

During the Brickhouse exhibition at Life on Mars Gallery, we are also pleased to be presenting the work of artist James Prez in our Project Room. Prez combines found and repurposed materials, making use of a brilliant and highly trained sense of design. His works seek to transform our expectations through playfulness – a sense of humor coupled with a delicate modesty. They reflect the best of the “outsider” tradition, illuminated by a honed knowledge of contemporary practice, bringing to mind a hybrid of Bill Traylor and Richard Tuttle.

We will be exhibiting his bottle drawings, works on paper and repurposed books.

Press contact: Dana James –

Arnold Mesches – “Next in Line: The FBI Series”

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October 2 – November 2
Opening Reception: Thursday, October 2nd, 6-9 pm

Arnold Mesches, The FBI Series 45

Writing in The New York Times, Eleanor Heartney described the genesis of this unique series of paintings and collages:

For 26 years the F.B.I. watched the artist Arnold Mesches. Federal agents took note of his illustrations for political journals and magazines. They watched him march for peace and disarmament and demonstrate against Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. They were also, during this time, compiling an 800 page dossier on him.

Among its documents were reports by informers on his movements in Los Angeles during the 1950’s and 60’s. Three years ago, when he obtained the files under the Freedom of Information Act, he discovered that some of the informants had been people he considered friends, colleagues and, in one case, a lover.

“Lots of the information they gathered is ridiculous,” he said. “They had people reporting the dates my kids were born, what cars I drove, who I was seeing—they even had students reporting on my lectures.”

Today he has turned these files into art and put them on view at P.S. 1 in the exhibition “The F.B.I. Files.” The art consists of colorful collages of news clippings, personal photographs, 50’s era images and hand-written and typed script, all surrounded by decorative painted borders. Mr. Mesches said the works were inspired by the mix of image and sacred text found in illuminated medieval manuscripts.

When Mr. Mesches began his F.B.I. collages in December 2000, he saw them as the culmination of a series of works on his personal history. The climate of distrust they evoked seemed a historical curiosity, relics of an era long past when government succumbed to paranoia and ran roughshod over citizen’s rights. After September 11, 2001, and the more recent scandals involving NSA privacy intrusions, however, the mentality evoked by Mesches’ “F.B.I. Files” no longer seems comfortably distant.

Following its debut at P.S. 1, the exhibit began a national tour through 2005. The exhibit was honored as one of the best art shows of the year by the Art Critics of America.

Please visit Arnold Mesches’ FBI works gallery on our website to view these important works from this American Master.

Todd Bienvenu – “Borrowing Tomorrow’s Fun”

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September 5 – September 28
Opening Reception: Friday, September 5th

Life on Mars is pleased to open its second season with Borrowing Tomorrow’s Fun.
The very first one-person exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Todd Bienvenu.

Todd Bienvenu, Backseat, 47 x 37.5 in. oil on canvas 2013

A Brooklynite by way of Little Rock, Arkansas and New Iberia, Louisiana, Bienvenu paints babes, boozers, buckets of blood, brawlers, punk rockers, apocalyptic zombies, pro wrestlers, country outlaws, camel toes, happy penises and masturbation technology. His themes of southern culture, sex, rock and roll and religion allow him to embrace and extend the traditions found in the figurative expression of Max Beckman, Phillip Guston, Frank Auerbach and Chaim Soutine. Combining a masterful handling of the medium of oil paint with expert draughtsmanship, Bienvenu simultaneously embraces the tradition of figurative expression while denying its overt heroism; using humor, sarcasm and the imagery of popular culture. He embodies much of his generation’s ennui, and its struggle for the authentic in the time of Meta, digital and new media.

Additionally, in our inaugural exhibition in our project room, we will present a rotating selection of works by painters such as Peter Acheson, Farrell Brickhouse, Brenda Goodman, Arnold Mesches, Fran O’Neill, Ben Pritchard, Karen Schwartz, and John Walker.

Michael David

“Drunken Angels”

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May 16 – June 22

“They manifest a nature’s sublimity. That is why Gabriel is represented with wings. Not that angels have wings, but that you may know that they leave the heights and the most elevated dwelling to approach human nature.” – Saint John Chrysostom, speaking of angels“

Some kind of savior singing the blues/a derelict in your duct tape shoes/Your orphan clothes and your long dark hair/looking like you didn’t care/drunken angel” – from lyrics to “Drunken Angel” by Lucinda Williams

While none of the artists in this exhibition have a drinking problem, wings, nor do they wear duct tape shoes (though all of the painters in the show do combine non-traditional material in their work), their works, created in different regions of the county, cross boundaries of race, age, education and gender.

Each artist works with a variety of materials and scale.The stories Brickhouse tells are made all the more powerful by the intimacy of his jewel-like scale; a mythology made personal. Dial creates assemblages regarding race, politick and religion, which weigh as much as 300 lbs. Schwartz’s physicality is best served by formats that allows for gestures that are the length of her own body, which speak to “truths” she arrives at out of the dialogue with herself. And Young, who painted on and with whatever material he could find, tells stories of sexuality and deep personal struggle.

They all share a painting practice defined by an “attack” that is physically immediate, a discipline that is slow, and victories that are hard-fought and arrived at over long periods spent reworking their surfaces. This level of transformation for each painter’s practice and process, coupled with their authentic, desperate urgency to tell a story of great personal meaning, builds and gives birth to imagery – modified, adjusted over long periods – that charges these works with universal meanings and narratives so deeply personal that we intuit the works’ content, enter their transformative practice, and are moved in ways we don’t fully understand, but most certainly feel deeply.

Their initial approach to their painting may be rapid, direct, violent, passionate, drunk with materiality and the process of painting, but the stories they are whispering to themselves (and sharing with the viewer), are created through countless hours of small revisions and adjustments. They are created with an intimacy so delicate, the paintings flutter with the “touch of angel wings”; to leave the heights and the most elevated dwelling to approach human nature. Angels drunk on the act of painting, carnal in their physicality, sacred in the search for that honest moment, “manifesting a natures sublimity”.

Michael David
May 3, 2014