May 9 – June 14, 2017
The Piano Craft Gallery presents an exhibition of new paintings by Ruth Mook from May 9th through June 14th. Mook will exhibit oil portraits of old-time baseball players and boxers.
Mook’s stark heroic figures project a heightened sense of self-awareness and vulnerability. They are painted on small panels with meticulous detail and rich color. These luminous paintings belie their scale with the weight of their emotional content. The figures are isolated against backdrops that include ethereal skies, geometric patterns and light-filled emptiness.
At a glance, Mook’s portraits have the intensity of icon painting, but a more intimate reading reveals that her interest lies in illuminating the ordinary men behind the extraordinary accomplishments. The powerful body of boxer Chuck Wepner sags after taking a hit in the ring in “On the Ropes.” In “Tony C.,” Tony Conigliaro’s handsome face turns away from the viewer behind the swollen black eye caused by the crushing blow that ended his career. Mook captures the awkwardness and the power of young bodies of the athletes as they unfold against an open sky in “Olympic Boxing Team, 1960.” In capturing these dualities, Mook brings both a visual and psychological depth to her paintings.
Despite differences in gender, life experience, and sometimes race, Mook’s heartfelt connection to these athletes from an earlier era is the true subject of these paintings. Her fascination animates these paintings and holds our attention.
Mook is a graduate of Oberlin College with and MFA from Brooklyn College. She is a National Endowment for the Arts Regional Visual Arts Fellowship recipient. Her work has been exhibited in New York at White Columns and P.S. 122. She was included in the Portland Biennial in 2001. This is Mook’s fourth solo exhibition at the Adam Baumgold Gallery.
The gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11-5:30 P.M.