From the gnarled trees of Ithaca’s woods, to the warm, round edges of a Parisian apartment building, to the power plant smokestacks as seen from a Greenpoint warehouse rooftop, neighborhood resident Christopher Schade brings the outside in with a series of “plein air” paintings that he then reinvents in the interior of his studio. The petite and realistic paintings serve as “anchors,” from which larger and boldly reimagined iterations can drift while remaining relatively tethered to original representation of reality.
During a preview visit to his studio this weekend, Schade described his interest in “obstruction as a strategy,” an approach which gives both depth and humor to these traditional landscapes. A tree trunk becomes the focus on a piece, while the compelling majesty of Notre Dame recedes and rests in the background. These unusual and unexpected choices create a rich palate of shapes and shadow that Schade seizes and explores in his larger works. Using the original plein air as a base, Schade’s colorist perspective dominates his central pieces, as he toys with light and dimension, leaving these versions dangling on the edge of abstraction. Matching the central piece to the original plein air becomes something of a game, and a challenging one at that! Continue reading →
A petite, bright white studio overlooking the trees of Eagle Street is the clean, calm home to Zoe Pettijohn Schade’s intricate and phenomenally executed gouache paintings.
The tin-ceiled building was previously used as a display space for J Josephs Sons Furniture on Manhattan Avenue; patches of remarkable, however weathered, wallpaper in the staircase hallway hint at a more glamorous past. These bits of history unwittingly revealed appropriately echo the retrospective and layered nature of Pettijohn Schade’s work.
This past weekend Jen and I had the opportunity to visit Pettijohn Schade’s studio for a preview of what she will be showing at this weekend’s GO Brooklyn Art Festival. Her multi-layered paintings immediately conjure a mid-century aesthetic but are in fact, both directly and indirectly inspired from patterns and shapes anonymously executed in the 1670s which she discovered during her travels in France. Clearly motivated by the long, rich, and somewhat mystifying history of these ancient paintings, Pettijohn Schade has respected and wrangled these patterns to make them her own. Continue reading →