by Sally Cohen
This summer, Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill will unite past, present and future artists with two captivating exhibitions that celebrate Philadelphia’s longstanding role as a center for artistic innovation and talent. Showcasing the city’s new generation of artists, Woodmere’s Annual: 73rd Juried Exhibition will be on view June 14 to Sept. 1 with an open house Saturday, June 28, noon to 4 p.m. It includes the work of 50 artists who live within a 50-mile radius of Philadelphia.
“This is an important exhibition because it represents Woodmere’s continued engagement with the exciting world of contemporary art,” said William R. Valerio, the Patricia Van Burgh Allison Director and CEO of Woodmere. “The Woodmere Annual makes Philadelphia a great place for artists to live and work because it gives many their first opportunity to exhibit in a museum.”
This year’s juror, local artist Sarah McEneaney, 58, selected nearly 80 works that humorously and poignantly explore such diverse themes as the urban landscape, isolation and self-reflection. McEneaney’s paintings and preparatory sketches will also be on view, and the artist will choose objects from Woodmere’s permanent collection that relate to the show’s themes for a small installation in the Stairwell Gallery.
McEneaney explained, “In the art world today, there’s all kinds of work being made, and … there’s not one ‘ism’ of the day. If anything, that’s the point; go out there and make your work, and it can be any kind of work. You just have to work at it and work at it.”
According to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer by art writer Edith Newhall, “Sarah McEneaney has a knack for conjuring domestic warmth, but a substantial number of her paintings of the last 10 years have not exactly been cozy.
“In her typically straightforward, slightly grave fashion … the artist has chronicled, among other things, her experiences with rape and breast cancer. Seen against McEneaney’s primary, childlike color palette, her muted portrayals of herself facing her own anxieties have seemed all the more painfully exposed.”
Another local art critic, Roberta Fallon, has written in the Philadelphia Weekly that “Sarah McEneaney creates a world that is brighter, more manic and far more whimsical than the world most of us live in — and for that it is absolutely loveable.”
The annual exhibition will be accompanied by an online catalogue featuring a discussion with McEneaney about her selection process and the various themes that emerged during the organization of the show.
Meanwhile, after the juried exhibition has been up for six weeks, the exhibition “Theresa Bernstein: A Century in Art” will open July 26 and stay up until Oct. 26. It will reflect on the life of an incredible artist who lived in three centuries (1890-2002) and whose work spanned the length of the 20th century, depicting its major issues and events, including women’s suffrage and the struggle of immigrants and the working class.
Curator Gail Levin, distinguished professor of art history, American studies and women’s studies at The Graduate Center and Baruch College, organized the Bernstein exhibition in an effort to recover the artist’s significant contribution to American life.
Born in Cracow, Poland, Bernstein and her parents immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Philadelphia in 1891. Bernstein attended the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art & Design) before moving to New York in 1911. She was a founding member of the Philadelphia Ten, a group of women artists active from 1917 to 1945.
In September, Woodmere will exhibit the work of renowned landscape painter Walter Elmer Schofield (1867-1944). The exhibition, “Schofield: International Impressionist,” will include over 60 paintings lent from both private and public collections.
Woodmere Art Museum is located at 9201 Germantown Ave. For more information, visit woodmereartmuseum.org or call 215-247-0476.