Friday, April 21, 2017

Patrick Connors at Gross McCleaf Gallery

In the mid 1970's I met Patrick Connors at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, when he was a student and I was a young playwright and poet. His canvas, as I remember, was given to vague imaginary beginnings that had atmosphere and spirit in them, and a sublime feeling. He was, I felt, a romantic in the modern age.

As this exceptional show demonstrates, Patrick has since evolved to indeed become a new American Romantic.

Patrick's gift is devoted to the Philadelphia landscape, as George Inness was at first uniquely motivated by Montclair, NJ.

If you want to revel in the unique feelings of this romantic city that invented Independence and the Constitution, the rights of man and a devotion to learning, the life of economies and the life of the soul, you should check into the vision of this artist.

More is meditated on in this show than you will find at most galleries. There is a series of larger paintings that center on Laurel Hill Cemetery,  one in particular like an Arnold Bocklin, but also showing some debt to Daniel Garber's quarry paintings in its composition. These are not lessons in influence taken for technical reasons, but in the drive to evoke our native mystery of nature and civilization.

And then there are the small paintings that arise like transcendent moments of twilight over the Schuylkill River. These are some of the most affecting views I have seen of this lovely river's spirit. If you look at these paintings, you can feel why it is good to live here, and how much this region offers the sustenance of the soul.

Patrick Connors
April 5-28, 2017
At Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia