Addison Rowe Gallery gives well-deserved attention to the works of two important 20th century female artists in “From the Transcendental Painting Group to the Taos Moderns: Florence Miller Pierce & Beatrice Mandelman,” which is on display through December 16.
“These artists left a lasting mark on the abstract art scene in New Mexico,” explains the gallery’s director Matthew Madison Rowe. “Mandelman was important because of her indefatigable dedication to art. Her thoughtful and methodical reductive technique resulted in some wonderfully sublime work. Pierce’s work captures light within the simple geometric forms she builds. Her pieces are the closest I can think of to pure form and color (light).”
Beatrice Mandelman (1912-1998), who was born in New Jersey, was employed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as a muralist and printmaker in the mid 1930s. She and her husband, the noted painter Louis Ribak (1902-1979), moved to New Mexico, settling in Taos in 1944. The couple founded the Taos Valley Arts School and were part of the Taos Moderns, an acclaimed artist collective. Mandelman created figurative work early in her career, while living in the East Coast, but was drawn to painting abstractly once in New Mexico. Her oeuvre includes collage on cardboard, acrylic on canvas, mixed media watercolor and oil on canvas panel.
A student of Taos artist Emil Bisttram, Washington, D.C. native Florence Miller Pierce (1918-2007) was the youngest member of (and one of two women in) the Transcendental Painting Group founded in 1938 by Bisttram and painter Raymond Jonson. Best known for her work with resin on mirrors, she also created resin reliefs and sumi (black ink) works on paper. In 2003 Pierce, who spent many years living in Albuquerque, was honored with the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.
“What’s been really great for me since putting the exhibition together has been running into a lot of people who knew these artists and have had fun stories to share about them,” adds Rowe. After the exhibition closes, Rowe, who is a ceramic artist, plans to show a selection of his work in the gallery along with photography by his childhood friend, Los Angeles-based photographer Eve LaFountain.