Blog / 2019 / April Openings!

April 9, 2019

Two April openings down, one to go! This weekend, we celebrated my solo show Empathetic Magic at Burlington’s Lyceum Hall along with the group show Love and Fear at the Montclair Public Library. This Friday, there’s one more party! Crime Against Nature opens at FIAF Montclair on April 12th from 6 to 7 PM.

Lyceum Hall in Burlington
photo by David Vanadia

Exhibition receptions have always been a little stressful for me. And 16 years into my career, I am sad to say that they’re only getting harder. Since moving away from my hometown in 2015, I have managed to discover a new kind of anxiety to attach to these events: the worry that no one will care. Oh the fun of being a freelancer starting from scratch in a new place!

Lyceum Hall in Burlington
photos by Gwenn Seemel and David Vanadia

Still, as much as I fret in the days leading up to a reception, the event itself always ends up being good. I may miss having family and old friends at all my openings, but there is a beauty to connecting with new people, like Patty and Barbara (the two lovely people that make Lyceum Hall work) and like Dawn as well. In these photos, Dawn has just purchased one of the small flower paintings on display in Burlington this month!

Empathetic Magic
photo by Gwenn Seemel

At the beginning of my career, I used to introduce myself to strangers by saying that I became a portraitist because I am socially awkward and painting portraits gives me a reason to talk to people. While I don’t advertise this fact quite as much as I used to, it’s still completely true, and this photo is proof. Hannah is seeing the portraits I painted of her for the first time in person—portraits I painted because they gave me a reason to keep hanging out with her.

David and Gwenn
photos by Hannah

Shoutout to Hannah for playing along with my scheme and for taking these lovely photos of me and my sweetie! Also, check out her work. It’s achingly beautiful and sometimes a little lonely, but without ever making you feel like you’re alone. Quite the opposite, actually.

Studio Montclair opening at the Montclair Public Library
photo by Gwenn Seemel

This photo is from the Love and Fear reception at the Montclair Public Library, an exhibit featuring the work of Amy Charmatz, Joanie Landau, Erik Peterson, Carol Radsprecher, Theda Sandford, and myself.

Gwenn Seemel at Studio Montclair opening at the Montclair Public Library
photo by David Vanadia

Normally group show openings are less stressful than solo show receptions, mostly because I imagine my typical art opening anxiety spread out among the many artists who have work on the walls. (It really removes a lot of the pressure when you know that other people are taking care of some of the work of being stressed.)

Donald Trump holding a syringe full of bull crap and surrounded by the destruction of his Presidency
Gwenn Seemel
Hello Sh*tty, Available in a White House Near You! (Grab Him by His Pussy.)
2017
acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
(You can watch the making of this piece or buy prints.)

But Love and Fear’s event was a little different. After this Trump portrait was eliminated from the exhibit just a half hour after it was hung, I spent the week before the opening brewing a big old batch of butterflies.

New Jersey artist Gwenn Seemel Studio Montclair opening at the Montclair Public Library
photo by David Vanadia

The one saving grace was the curator’s decision to address the removal at the reception and even allow the piece to be displayed at the event. Kudos to Marianne Trent on her curatorial début! I have rarely felt as validated by a curator—and that was before my painting was taken down by the venue and Marianne encouraged me to make a video response to the decision! Marianne has a special vision and drive. I look forward to seeing what shows she will come up with next!

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