Works on Paper: Survey of Purchase Prizes (1978–2009)

February 10–March 15, 2015
Arcadia University Art Gallery


Robert Asman, Bo Bartlett, Alysa Bennet, Joseph Danciger, Dominic Episcopo, Carl Fudge, Michael Garrity, Margaretta Gilboy, David Goerk, A.P. Gorny, Marilyn Holsing, James Johnson, Lois Johnson, Virgil Marti, Patricia Moss-Vreeland, Robert T. Pannell, W. Barrett Pope, Richard Proctor, Jill A. Rupinski, Judith Schaechter, Anne Seidman, Janet Towbin, Carla Tudor, Barbara Woodall

Arcadia University Art Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition showcasing 24 works acquired for the school’s permanent collection through its juried “Works on Paper” series. The selected pieces represent exhibitions from 1978 to the latest iteration of the show presented in 2009. Organized as part of the gallery’s spring celebration of its 30th anniversary at its current location in the Spruance Art Center, the show features an eclectic range of drawings, prints, collages, and photographs created by artists living within a 25-mile radius of the gallery. The exhibition is intended both as a look back as well as a means of preparing to reboot this juried series for the 2015-16 season.

Installation view, photo: Denise Henhoeffer
A significant and long-running component of the Art Gallery’s programming, “Works on Paper” has played an instrumental role in highlighting the production of contemporary artists in the Philadelphia region over the past 40 years. While figuration and landscape are prominent themes, the show can be more broadly characterized by its spectrum of inventive approaches to working both on and with paper at an impressive range of scales.

Complementing the handful of more narrative works are two striking examples of print-based appropriation: a portfolio of woodcuts by A. P. Gorny that replicates a 1954 book by Yves Klein documenting reproductions of monochrome canvases the painter hadn’t yet realized and Carl Fudge’s 8 x 5-foot mash-up of Albrecht Durer’s 1510 woodcut, The Resurrection. Drawings by W. Barrett Pope, Anne Seidman, and Janet Towbin investigate questions of control and expression germane to abstraction. Social commentaries by Judith Schaechter and Marilyn Holsing, along with Robert T. Pannell’s meditation on colonialism, are countered by the caprice of David Goerk’s cosmic Polaroid and Barbara Woodall’s roadmap collage.

Artisanal approaches to printmaking and photography offered by Alysa Bennet and Robert Asman find their foils in Virgil Marti’s early digital inkjet print and James Johnson’s cardboard peep box. Overall, the evolution of both international and regional modes of art-making that have characterized the last several decades is readily discernible.

Patricia Moss-Vreeland, The Absent Guest, 1982, pencil on paper, 25 x 27″, Purchase Award: Works on Paper 1985

The gallery’s “Works on Paper” shows have been juried by an esteemed roster of curators and critics, along with a few artists early on in the series (see full list below). Jurors review only actual works delivered to the gallery, as opposed to reproductions, which has helped ensure a consistent level of quality. Each exhibition has included at least one purchase award, admitting the selected work into the school’s permanent holdings. The current survey represents the first time that these works have been displayed as a collection.

The first juried drawing exhibition at Beaver College titled the “Regional Women’s Drawing Show,” was organized by then Beaver faculty member Judith Brodsky in 1974 as a part of a city-wide series of events and exhibitions known as “Philadelphia Focuses on Women in the Visual Arts.” (Brodsky went on to found and direct The Brodsky Center for Innovative Editions at Rutgers University.) The call for drawings by regional artists soon became an annual event for the gallery, known as the “Eastern Pennsylvania Regional Drawing Exhibition.” Nine of the 24 purchase awards featured come from these shows, presented in the Richard Eugene Fuller Gallery, the school’s original gallery space on the ground floor of the campus library.

Barbara Woodall, Untitled, 1999, collage, 16 x 14″, Purchase Award: Works on Paper 1999

The “Works on Paper” series played a direct role in the gallery’s sudden relocation in March 1985. “Drawing Show: A Juried Exhibition of Works on Paper,” juried by Peter Blume, then director of the Allentown Art Museum, was on display in the Fuller Gallery when a car pulling up behind the building lost control and crashed through the space’s 20-foot-wide picture window and into the exhibition. No one was hurt, but the gallery sustained serious damage, and several of the works on view were destroyed. Patricia Moss-Vreeland’s The Absent Guest, a drawing selected for the purchase award that year, survived intact and is included in the current exhibition.

As a result of the accident, the gallery relocated to the Spruance Art Center, where it has remained ever since. The move not only generated a new name for the exhibition space (which was to remain “Beaver College Art Gallery” until the switch to Arcadia in 2001), but also for the juried show. In 1986, the title of the series was changed to “Works on Paper” to more accurately reflect the scope of the work being selected by the jurors as well as the many ways in which artists had begun to interpret the traditional act of drawing.

Anne Seidman, 2 x 6 Array, 1994, water media on paper, 12 sheets, each 12.5 x 12.5″; Purchase Award: Works on Paper 1994

The following is a chronological list of jurors: Susan Crile, artist, New York City (1974); Robert Godfrey, director, Westminster College Art Gallery (1977); Ann Percy, curator of drawings, Philadelphia Museum of Art (1978, 1981); Virginia Butera, assistant to the director, Philadelphia Museum of Art (1980); Martha Diamond, artist, New York (1983); Marie Keller, associate curator, The Drawing Center, New York (1984); Peter Blume, director, Allentown Art Museum (1985); Ellen Jacobowitz, curator of prints, Philadelphia Museum of Art (1986); Patterson Sims, associate curator permanent collection, Whitney Museum of American Art (1987); Grace Glueck, art news editor, The New York Times (1988); Ned Rifkin, chief curator for exhibitions, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. (1989); Roberta Smith, art critic, The New York Times (1990); Laura Trippi, curator, New Museum of Contemporary Art (1991); Robert Storr, curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, Museum of Modern Art (1992); Neal Benezra, chief curator Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (1993); Elisabeth Sussman, curator, Whitney Museum of American Art (1994); Bill Arning, director white columns, New York (1995); Mark Rosenthal, curator, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1998); James Elaine, artist and curator of contemporary projects, UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (1999); Thelma Golden, chief curator, The Studio Museum, Harlem (2001); Jordan Kantor, assistant curator of drawings, Museum of Modern Art (2004); Cornelia Butler, chief curator of drawings, The Museum of Modern Art (2006); and João Ribas, curator, The Drawing Center, New York (2009).