Art Exhibit Opening Tomorrow at Panepinto Galleries Exploring Power of Vertical Composition

A new show opening tomorrow at Panepinto Galleries will whisk you away from the hackneyed land of landscapes and panoramas into the immediate, active world of verticality.

“Vertical Repose,” curated by Emily Santangelo, showcases vertically composed work by 13 artists. Santangelo says the inspiration for the show came directly from John Baldessari’s “French Horn Player,” one of her favorite pieces in the exhibit.

“It’s Classic Baldessari, bold and brilliant in its form and color it forces the viewers eyes to dance up and down in recognition to the work,” she says.

“Instantly, I was drawn to how I responded to these images four separate horizontal images stacked seamlessly to form this dynamic vertical composition…Standing before it, yourself in a state of ‘vertical repose,’ you feel as though Baldessari has created a doorway that beckons the viewer to pass through.”

Gallery owner Stephanie Panepinto says viewers will be able to similarly connect with the pieces in this show. “Being vertical gives the viewer a sense (that the work is) mirroring their body and they’re connecting with the piece in a vertical frame,” she says, adding, however, that one of the pieces she connects to most isn’t in a frame at all.

Panepinto says she is drawn to work by metal sculptor Charlie Hewitt, who may be best known to those in the metropolitan area as the artist behind “Urban Rattle,” a two-story metal sculpture at the High Line in New York City. “His work is an excellent example of verticality and sculptural form,” she says. “His piece has these several elongated, vertical figures, each with a different design on top.”

Santangelo, on the other hand, noted standout pieces like “Rot,” a painting by former Jersey City Museum curator Andrea Belag, which she describes as “a fiery, stormy work with deliberate vertical swaths of color that bump up and bleed into one another, markings that incorporate human proportions.”

“There is an internal space that is created and the viewer can engage in a dialogue by mirroring the surface and projecting their history on the image,” she adds.

Kate Carey’s “Hercules” and “Dream of Hercules” are also some of Santangelo’s favorites. “These majestic paintings highlight how vertical painting is a process of high drama, finishing in a crescendo, exhausting us all,” she says.

Other featured artists include John D’Agostino, Rachel Friedberg, Stephen Gross, Alison Hildreth, Elizabeth T. Jones, Chris Pelletiere, Kara L. Rooney, Anthony Roselli and Richard Serra.

The two say that the show will be an especially enaging experience for art lovers.

“The vertical image demands active participation…Unlike the more passive role one has when viewing horizontal work,” says Santangelo. “Vertical work for both and artist and a viewer is the theater of aspiration and reaching versus acceptance and surrender, the act of jumping up and then diving or just traveling up and down in a constant circuit or flow, the unknown above us, the somewhat better-known at or below our feet.”

“Vertical Repose” opens tomorrow, Sept. 28, with a reception from 6 pm to 10 pm and runs through Oct. 28 at Panepinto Galleries, 371 Warren St., fourth floor. For more information, visit their website.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Panepinto

Summer Dawn Hortillosa

is a freelance arts and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in the Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal, the International and other publications. She is also a creative writer and theatrical director.