Articles and Reviews

The Village Voice, "Documenting the New Towers of Old Hell's Kitchen", by Katherine Knowles, April 2, 2018

Art Dependence Magazine, "The Monolith: An Interview", by Jennifer Sauer, January 10, 2018

Colossal, "The Monolith: Artist Gwyneth Leech Turns the Destructive Force of a New Building Into a Source of Inspiration", by Christopher Jobson, November 29, 2017

The Norwalk Hour, "Spanning three generations, a family's art on view in separate Norwalk galleries" , by Francis Carr, April 23, 2015

American Craft Magazine,"Drink Up", by Sarah Buttenweiser, April/May 2014

Azure Magazine, "Grind", by David Dick-Agnew, November/December 2013

Telegraph Magazine,"Gwyneth Leech: the Art of Paper Cups", by Sophie de Rosée , September 6, 2013

The Sunday Star Ledger, "Over and Over", by Dan Bischoff, March 10, 2013

Boston Magazine "Cambridge Anthropologie Hosts Live Art Exhibition with Gwyneth Leech", by Olga Khvan, November 22, 2013

New York Times "An Art Exhibit That's Good to the Last Drop", by David Dunlap, February 14, 2012

Pennsylvania Gazette, "Cup O'Doodles", by Molly Petrilla, July/August 2011

Hand Eye Magazine, "Full Brew and View", by Sarah Buttenweiser, August 2010

Additional press page for Gwyneth Leech Cup Exhibitions:
Articles, Reviews and Blogs 2011/2014

Bibliography article icon

The Spur, "New York Artist Paints Perfect Families and More", by Ben Erickson, January 31, 2007

Bibliography article icon

The Marshall Independent, "Family Impact", by Cindy Votruba , January 30, 2007

Bibliography article icon

The journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society, "Don't Talk About Religion or Politics", by Don Newton, January 30, 2006

Bibliography article icon

Art New England, "Gwyneth Leech: the Way of the Cross", by Lois Goglia, October/November 2005

Bibliography article icon

New York Times, Dance Review: Suffering and Rebirth", by Jack Anderson, March 17, 2000

Bibliography article icon

Pennsylvania Gazette, "Visions and Videos of a New Scotland", by Susan Lonkevich, June/July 1998

Selected Website Listings
Bibliography external website link icon

Two Coats of Paint, "On Procrastinating: Gwyneth Leech", by Sharon Butler, May 6, 2015

Bibliography external website link icon

Time Out London, "A year in coffee cups, an electric ‘concept car’ and an endless flight of stairs: London Design Festival kicks off this weekend", by Katie Forster, September 14, 2013

Bibliography external website link icon

Psychology Today "Do What You Love, Money Follows: The Coffee Cup Artist", by Susan Biali, December 9, 2011

Bibliography external website link icon

Penn State Altoona News, "Imprints on a Landscape: The Mining Project", by Noel Feely, May 1, 2006

Bibliography external website link icon

Episcopal Life, "Contemporary Icons", by Henry James, March 2006

Bibliography external website link icon

Faith and Form, "A New Journey: the Stations of the Cross for Our Time”, by Gwyneth Leech, March 2006

Bibliography external website link icon

From the Floor, The Church and Contemporary Art, by Todd Gibson, October 20, 2006

Bibliography external website link icon

Off Off Off Art, “Passing it Down”, by Jeffery Cyphers Wright, July 2005

Gallery review: DON'T TALK ABOUT RELIGION OR POLITICS

Review by Don Newton
The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron
01/30/2006


DON'T TALK ABOUT RELIGION OR POLITICS
Sergio Hernandez, Gwyneth Leech, Poli Marichal, John Paul Thornton, and Mark Vallen.
Opened January 7th at the Ave. 50 Studio (131 N. Ave. 50 in Highland Park).



Unfortunately, this show is about to close (February 6) but if you can make it…

The Avenue 50 Studio is a bare storefront-size room in one half of an old building next to the new tracks of the Gold Line. The exhibit is arranged (unsurprisingly) on 3 of the 4 walls, presenting an initial aspect of passivity, which the subject matter immediately begins to contradict.

The only exception to the painterly, wall-mounted artwork is Poli Marichal's disturbing "Elegy to Scheharazade," an installation piece: a rug mounted on a bloody, muslin-covered table, and strewn with severed heads. On the rug itself, a red form of a woman is painted, with one of the stylized heads lying on her stomach. The rest of the heads are piled at the foot of the table on a bloody cloth, and it feels like the blood will get on your shoes unless you're very careful. Behind this, there are several small paper images of the "eye of Fatima," a traditional Muslim design with mottoes on each: "Freedom to Study," "Freedom to Love," "Equal Rights as Men," "Freedom of Movement," "Freedom of Speech." She has three more paintings on a facing wall, each of them dealing with a religious theme interspersed with politics.

Directly behind Marichal's installation, a large acrylic painting on unstretched canvas shows camouflaged soldiers with automatic weapons occupying a "First National Bank" building. Through the window behind them, a tank aims its cannon straight at the viewer while a helicopter hovers in a dramatic sunset. The premises of the bank are strewn with a Coke can, a Kentucky Fried Chicken foam cup, and a crumpled pack of Marlboros. Mark Vallen, the painter, told me that these two soldiers -- who remind me of the Russian soldiers occupying Chechnya -- had actually appeared in Soldier of Fortune magazine. One of the soldiers has a woman next to him whose nail-polished hand rests on his shoulder. To complete the scene (titled "A People Under Command"): a poster of Rambo with a huge rocket launcher, and a news-stand holding USA Today with Reagan's face on the front page. Vallen derived the title of the painting (1985) from a stanza of a song on Christian TV, which refers to "God's Army." He has three smaller pieces on an adjoining wall, one of them an image of a young Muslim woman, which was used as a poster to counter racist attacks after 9-11.

Right away, you know politics is on the agenda. Mark Vallen is also the curator of the show, and in his Curatorial Statement, refers to our "conservative times when dissenting opinions are frowned upon." Instead of going along with the current, he says that "remaining silent in a period of rising religious and political fundamentalism is unimaginable." And the identification of politics and religion is not confined to Vallen's opinions. All of the artists in this exhibition have wrestled with this theme.

Gwyneth Leech, for example, shows her 14 Stations of the Cross (Christ's Passion Re-Imagined in a New Era of Torture, Terror, and Tragedy"). These are small (10x10 inch) oil sketches made for a church in Norwalk, Connecticut. Her interpretations of Christ's path to crucifixion use very contemporary references to heighten the pathos of the journey: a naked Christ is set upon by vicious dogs, as captured insurgents have been at Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq; Guantanamo is invoked when Christ is presented to the judges in an orange jumpsuit, with his arms bound; razor wire surrounds the cross and protects the occupying army from the population in the streets; torture and humiliation of captives, such as occurs in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, is echoed in Christ's suffering. Ms. Leech mentions (in her notes to the series) the "seeming deluge of images of grief in the press -- the grief of families around the world who have lost loved ones to war and terrorist attacks." One of her pictures shows weeping Iraqi women joined at the foot of the cross by an American father and his son, grieving over the loss of a family member. As she painted and showed these images to the congregation in Connecticut, there were very strong reactions on the part of the local population... she was repeatedly attacked in the press for her mixing of politics in with traditional religion.

Sergio Hernandez is a veteran of the Chicano movement and one-time cartoonist and illustrator for the famous Con Safos magazine. His two paintings in the show go deeply into the tangled connection between politics and art. "Church, Help Our People" shows chained mestizo worshippers clinging to a stone-faced crucifix, the bearded face on the cross wearing a bishop's hat (or conquistador's?) and surmounted by dollar signs for a motto. A pan full of gold coins at the foot of the cross, refers (he says) to the "millions in resources the church has amassed." This painting was inspired by the successful protests led by Catolicos por La Raza in 1970, demanding more resources for poorer parishes in Los Angeles. "The Last Cachetada (The Last Slap)" is a riveting image of a frozen moment: a shirtless man, tattooed with the Virgin of Guadalupe on his back, raises his right hand to strike a young woman holding a crying child. He holds a bottle of beer in his left hand, and stands in front of a saloon, next to a graffiti'd wall. Inside the door of the bar, the flames of evil can be seen.

John Paul Thornton's work falls more toward the religious side of the equation, with three paintings of views from South Asia of typical scenes, a wedding at the bank of a river, a funeral ceremony on the Ganges, and a "Seeker" in red robe against an impressionistic background. His artistic experience includes a nationwide campaign, based on hundreds of portraits he painted, to popularize the search for missing persons, which he began when one of his students disappeared.

All of these paintings are figurative, only Poli Marichal's moving away from strictly "realistic" presentations of scenes and images. During an Artists' Forum discussion on January 12, Mark Vallen put forward his commitment to realism as opposed to abstraction, basing his philosophical approach on a politics of inclusion and popularization, which he feels is now outside the mainstream of U.S. art. All of the artists presented slides at the forum, as well as their aesthetic and philosophical ideas, making this a very satisfying contribution to the intellectual depth of the exhibition.

At a time when Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have repeatedly made outrageous political statements based on their fundamentalist beliefs, and when the President of the United States publicly prays before assembled ranks of military spectators, it is refreshing and encouraging to see artists taking on the old American warning not to "talk about religion and politics," and breaking free of the brainwash.

The journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society, "Don't Talk About Religion or Politics", by Don Newton, January 30, 2006