Melanie Vote: Looking Back Moving Forward: 2004–2014

Melanie Vote, These Apples, 2013, oil on panel, 9 x 12 inches

Melanie Vote, These Apples, 2013, oil on panel, 9 x 12 inches

Melanie Vote: Looking Back Moving Forward: 2004–2014

Opening Reception: May 6, 2014, 6–8 p.m.

Hamilton Square Condominium
232 Pavonia Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07302

Exhibition Run: May 6, 2014–August 31, 2014

“I am trying to reconcile the balance between reality and just painting … My challenge is to take the cuteness or irony out of the work, but at the same time to make work that is compelling—exciting for myself and hopefully for the viewer” — Melanie Vote

SILVERMAN AND MAJESTIC THEATRE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION present “Melanie Vote: Looking Back Moving Forward: 2004–2014,” curated by Brendan Carroll. Vote is known for her paintings of gargantuan toy figurines that dominate sunbaked rural plains. Though they play a major role in her oeuvre, they represent only a fraction of her output. This exhibition includes roughly 25 pieces from the past decade, which include large-scale oil paintings on linen to small graphite drawings on paper. The subject matter ranges from straightforward realism to the grotesque to something hovering between the two.

Bringing old and new work together can often prompt new insights for artist and audience alike. Surveying her work, Vote is not so much surprised, as she is aware of subtle shifts in tone and temperament.

“Ten years ago I felt a need to prove myself as a straightforward realist, often editing out any tangential or spontaneous activity in fear of being labeled as something other than a realist,” says Vote. “At one point, I just got bored and began to be more playful  . . . I need to feel I have the license to do something spontaneously. I have little drive to just paint a natural image.”

In the past decade, Vote has moved away from indirect painting (layering and glazing) to direct painting or a combination of both styles. She has painted forthright domestic interiors, tawdry pin-ups girls, and post-apocalyptic landscapes. Though her subject matter has changed, Vote is steadfast in her aim to create psychological narratives. What is appealing about her newer work is the evolving relationship between observation and invention, spontaneity and premeditation.

For example, These Apples (2013) presents a close-up shot of apples on a branch, which are set against a flat blue sky. At first glance, the treatment of the subject is objective. The apples have depth, weight, and color. (They are ripe for the picking.) However, on second look, a vertical pink and white checkerboard band divides the composition. The effect is jarring. What makes this seemingly straightforward painting more evocative is Vote’s handling of the leaves, which alternate between naturalistic and abstraction. One leaf, in particular, is white and marked by polka dots.

The artist admits to being afraid one might undo or over the other.

“Oh, yes, I am afraid, and that is what is exciting for me. Taking chances, exploring, changing things from how I initially imagined them to be. . . . But there is a balance I am aiming for, almost like walking a tight rope. I hope not to fall off into the pit of absolute ridiculousness. With realism, if you deviate at all from nature, you take a chance of being labeled a surrealist, or worse. It is a difficult balance; one can easily go down a slippery slope of sheer cheesiness.”

Vote’s approach to picture making, in the artist’s words, is a “mixture of daydreaming and pragmatism.” She is a visual scavenger—culling images from the Internet, direct observation, family photos, old paintings, imagination and memories. At first, she begins with a clear notion of what the image should be. That said, she is does not allow herself to be tyrannized by the original idea.

“I let a [picture] steep for months, sometimes years … Then I have a pivotal moment of ‘Yes, this is how it has to be!’ Subsequently, I have to work in a very focused manner to finish, and that takes as long as it takes.”

The exhibition will be on view at Hamilton Square Condominiums through August 2014. For further information, please visit us at SILVERMAN or call number (201) 435-8000.

“Melanie Vote: Looking Back Moving Forward: 2004–2014” is the nineteenth exhibition that Brendan Carroll will organize for SILVERMAN.

Vote earned her BFA in Craft Design from Iowa State University (1995) and her MFA from the New York Academy of Art (cum laude in 1998). She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally, including group exhibitions with Sloan Fine Art, DFN Gallery, Flowers East Gallery, The Lodge Gallery, and Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, among others. Recent exhibitions include a solo exhibition at Hionas Gallery, NY. Additionally her work was featured in “Hyper-narrative” in Seoul, South Korea, at the Hangaram Art Museum, and at ADAH, Abu Dhabi, while in residence.

She was a recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2007 and has been awarded various residencies, most recently ADAH, Abu Dhabi, in 2013; Jentel in Banner, Wyoming, in 2009; and the Vermont Studio Center with a full fellowship from the Dodge Foundation in 2002. For three weeks in June 2015, she will be in residence at The Grand Canyon. Vote teaches drawing painting and foundations at Pratt Manhattan and New Jersey City University.

For additional information on the artist, go here:

SILVERMAN has presented the works of Paul Lempa, Fanny Allié, Michael Meadors, John A. Patterson, Charlotte Becket, Roger Sayre, Karina Aguilera Skvirsky, Tom McGlynnMargaret MurphyValeri LarkoTenesh WebberGlenn GarverJennifer Krause ChapeauMichelle DollTim HeinsMegan MaloyLaurie Riccadonna, Thomas John Carlson, Tim DalyAnn FlahertyScott TaylorJason SederSara WolfeBeth Gilfilen, Andrzej Lech, Hiroshi KumagaiTom McGlynnVictoria CalabroAsha GanpatDarren JonesRyan Roa,Laura NapierRisa PunoNyugen E. SmithAmanda Thackray, and Kai Vierstra.

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Directions from Lower Manhattan to Hamilton Square, Jersey City, NJ via PATH

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