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Art Show in Ithaca and In-Person

“The Color of Distance” by Jessica Warner Premieres


Around the US, galleries are returning with live art exhibitions and in Ithaca, the same can be found; specifically, one of the many new art events in the area is at The Gallery at South Hill.

Jessica Warner’s “The Color of Distance” is the third show since the gallery’s reopening. During opening night Sept. 18,  attendees varied from friends to art-lovers to other artists.

Warner also noted  that everyone was wearing their masks and that she felt safe within the large gallery space.

“It was pretty wonderful to have an in-person event,” Warner says. “One of the best things was seeing people that I haven’t seen since the start of Covid. It was really nice to see them in person, hear about what they’ve been up to and share my work with them.”

About the Work

Some of the ideas that are interwoven in Warner’s pieces include repetition, complexity and space. The show displays a collection of works that’s been in progress for six years. Some pieces date back to 2016 and others were completed this year.

Each is unique and plays on the line of abstract work and still life.

Photo of "Memory" Warner's Painting
Warner’s painting titled “Memory” from 2016. (Photo by Marisa Thomas)

“I aim to make paintings that are surprising, unpredictable, intimate and complex; . . . I’m interested in the way a painting can be both abstraction and rooted in the practice of observation,” according to Warner’s artist statement on her website.

Repetition and Process

Warner said her artistic process was  influenced by the pandemic. The busier home environment was not conducive to creating with her preferred material, oil paints, due to their time demanding dimensions, including necessary clean up. A whole collection of drawings made during the pandemic was done in uni-ball ballpoint pen, gouache (an opaque watercolor paint) and even gel pen.

“A lot of the time I wasn’t able to paint . . . because of the constant distractions. I needed something that was easier to pick up and put down and come back to,” says Warner.

Warner’s work did more than change in material, it also was an emotional outlet during the pandemic.

“I felt like my work was something that helped me during all those months and I love that other people had the opportunity to see it in person,” says Warner.

Picture of drawings completed during the pandemic.
Collection of drawings Warner completed during the pandemic. (Photo by Marisa Thomas)

By looking at multiple pieces in the show, you can see similar items that are used to influence the images’ structure.

“The way that I work, I start with still life objects,” Warner says. “You can kind of see how the objects are rearranged in and out of the paintings.”

Working with still life is just the beginning of the process. The way she works isn’t bound by what she sees, but is an introduction of dialogue between her and the art piece. Her pandemic drawings all seem to be articles of clothing, but they look more like figurative and abstract forms than the set forms of a t-shirt.

“Then it evolves into a conversation with the painting,” Warner notes.

One of the recurring elements in these drawings is  patterned marks. Warner found it enjoyable to create this pattern, and when she had the ability to go back and paint, she put them in.

“It was kind of comforting to make those marks. Meditative almost. I then went back in and incorporated those patterns in other paintings,” she says.

Complexity and Space 

With the marks being included within the paintings, it adds another element to the works. Because of the size of the paintings, the marks can be hard to notice until you move in closer.

“As they (the paintings) progress, there’s added complexity, a complexity of space. They have to be looked at really closely, but they are very large paintings,” Warner says.

Photo of Warner's piece titled "Sometimes"
Warner’s painting titled “Sometimes” from 2021. (Photo by Marisa Thomas)

To See Art in Person

There’s something about being able to see artwork in person that can’t be relayed across the screen, says Warner.  In-person art viewing allows observation and appreciation of the details that may not be portrayed online.

“Paintings are things that really can’t be fully experienced or appreciated unless they’re seen in person,” says Warner. “Seeing art in person was also one of the things I missed most during the pandemic so I’m so glad we are able to have shows with openings, visit museums and galleries again.”

Warner’s show runs until Oct. 18. The Gallery is open Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.


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    Michael SampsonSep 29, 2021 at 9:20 pm

    Well done! Thank you Marisa