Vintage paint-by-numbers kits, especially those from the mid-20th-century, are more than kitschy relics to artist Erica Rosenfeld, who incorporates imagery from these kits into her original paintings. She references found visual artifacts in her hand-painted depictions of animals in her second solo exhibition at Heller Gallery. Entitled "Reverie Forest: Sanctuary for Strange Creatures," these new works go on view this evening in the Chelsea art district of Manhattan.
Rosenfeld is a collector of imagery and objects, and her previous exhibition also featured her fascination with vintage discoveries. "Erica’s first exhibition, 'Like Remembering a Dream the Day After,' strove to capture the feeling of her studio which is her work space, her safe space (sanctuary), and an ongoing large scale art installation," Doug Heller told the Glass Hot Sheet. "It is filled with thousands of bits and pieces of contemporary detritus of all shapes, colors and materials that she’s collected over the years, ranging from old radios, to plastic flowers and kitsch statuettes - even egg shells."
Her studio, which she refers to as her "Eden," serves as both the inspiration and design space for the work in the upcoming exhibition as well.
As she told the Glass Hot Sheet in 2017: "Throughout my life I have been a collector and a hoarder. I am constantly reorganizing, cataloging and creating shrines with the objects that I find. I think that this ritual is part of my art making process and inspires the materials I use."
In the Summer 2017 edition of Glass (#147), contributing editor John Drury wrote about the first "Reverie Forest" exhibit, saying: “Assembled from the flotsam of abundance, the works are at once impenetrable yet overflowing with potential, the products of concentrated toil and indisputable reverence for the task of collection and creation.”
"Sanctuary for Strange Creatures" promises more of that same reverence in a new form. Rosenfeld creates intentionally out-of-date tableaus of unusual creatures and the environments in which they live that look as though they could have been commercially mass-produced in a bygone age until you look closer and discover their many unique and unusual features, including glass encasements.
"Glass is a material that has intrigued Erica for decades, but it does not define nor confine her artwork," Heller said. "It is her friend but not her master. Sometimes a piece is made entirely from glass, other times it is simply a lens bringing special focus to one detail in a piece."
The exhibition will showcase 40 of these ersatz "paint-by-numbers," along with two larger painted collage pieces and eight "Cake Tower" light sculptures. Using this unique combination of mixed media, Rosenfeld hopes to push back against conformity and repression found in American society.
"Still stylistically innocent, and using the imagery of the naive paint-by-number kits of the 1950’s, Rosenfeld creates insightful commentary and offers a welcoming safe place to those of us who are 'other' and at risk because of it," Heller said.
An opening reception will be held on September 12, 2019, from 6 PM to 8 PM
IF YOU GO:
September 13 through October 19, 2019
"Reverie Forest: Sanctuary for Strange Creatures"
303 10th Ave. (bt 27th St. and 28th St.)
New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212 - 414 - 4014