A decade ago, the Philadelphia painter Elizabeth Osborne, long known for her landscapes, still lifes, and figures in moody interior scenes, seemed poised to commit herself to abstraction. Her radiant colors, a hallmark of her work, were now frequently arranged in vertical and horizontal bands.
She soon circled back to her signature style and themes, but with a new freedom of spirit. Her paint application was less tightly controlled — even drippy in places. Osborne’s current show, “A Painter’s Place” at Locks Gallery, continues her experiments in abstraction.
Most of her new paintings depict landscapes in Maine, Mexico, Nova Scotia, and on Prince Edward Island, now reduced to their most elemental shapes. In Cove Tea Hill (2018-19), those horizontal bands of color form the landscape. In Storm Warning (2018), they’re a seascape (which might be a nod to Martin Johnson Heade’s famously ominous 1861-62 painting, Approaching Storm: Beach Near Newport).
Doorway Mexico (2019) and Hillside Autumn (2018) are the only works here depicting the human-built world, and even then their architectural details are relegated to the background.
Garden Tea Hill (3) (2019) is an explosion of orange-, pink-, and lavender-leaved trees against a brilliant blue sky. This one shows off Osborne’s well-honed skills as a colorist, but also reveals an artist who’s now entirely confident in her own particular blend of abstraction and representation.
Through Dec. 14 at Locks Gallery, 600 Washington Square South, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. 215-629-1000 or locksgallery.com.
Since exhibiting together in 2013, painter Mat Tomezsko and ceramic artist Roberto Lugo have maintained a collaborative partnership that draws on their shared ties to Philadelphia (both were raised here), their community engagement, and their use of found materials in their works. That synergy is on full display in their two-person show, “Wynorrific Times,” at Wexler Gallery.
Philadelphians may be acquainted with Tomezsko’s public art. His mural, Flowering Axes, is on the wall of the Fifth Street tunnel linking Old City and Northern Liberties. A temporary installation, 14 Movements: A Symphony in Color and Words, took over the South Broad Street median during the 2016 Democratic Convention.
His recent paintings have the same street cred, but they’re much smaller.
“Price” is a series of works on canvas, each featuring a central cross shape collaged with cut-out supermarket ads and set against a background of black asphalt and coal. They’re formal abstract compositions that combine delicacy and meticulousness with the grittiness of the street. The cross shapes in Cheeseburger and some other paintings from the series include acrylic paint and confetti.
Lugo’s ceramic vessels are well-known in Philadelphia and elsewhere, and his recent hand-painted porcelain vessels here continue to pay homage to underrepresented figures in art history.
One startling departure is Self Portrait as Street (2019), Lugo’s life-size, freestanding sculpture of himself. It’s composed from ceramic, concrete, gun parts, chain, clothes, and latex paint, making the artist a man of the streets in every sense.
Through Jan. 5 at Wexler Gallery, 201 N. 3rd St., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. 215-923-7030 or wexlergallery.com. Through January 5.
It’s always interesting to see artists’ efforts in mediums in which they are not necessarily fluent, and “New Again,” at C.R. Ettinger Studio, makes a good show of it.
Cindi Ettinger is a printmaker and artist who has worked with numerous artists at her South Street studio to help them realize their ideas as prints. For this show, she has pulled out some pieces from her flat files — and borrowed others — by the painters Joan Curran, David Fertig, James McElhinney, Sarah McEneaney, and Bill Scott. (Printmaker Rebecca Gilbert is included, too.)
I especially enjoyed seeing McEneaney’s prints from the 1980s, some of which have never been exhibited. Fertig’s prints of figures and battle scenes from the Napoleonic Wars are also standouts, as are McElhinney’s prints based on his watercolor sketches of rivers and Scott’s first adventures with the etching process.
Curran’s latest collages don’t really fit this show’s theme, and neither do Gilbert’s wood engravings. But they’re beautiful and impressively made.