Last night I went to the interview between the guest curator of “Abstraction Today”, Bridgette Mayer, and the director of the Samek Art Gallery, Rick Rinehart. Interestingly, Bridgette Mayer actually is a Bucknell graduate and she attended Bucknell from 1992-1996. She graduated with an Art & Art History degree as painter and abstract enthusiast. When she moved into Philadelphia, Mayer mentioned many of the galleries in the city were not concerned about the same types of art and artists that she wanted to work with. And so, instead of working at a place where she did not necessarily want to work for, she created her own gallery entitled The Bridgette Mayer Gallery, which has flourished in Philly for the past thirteen years.
Since she is the gallery’s owner, she evidently makes the last call on who she represents. Currently she represents 16 artists who she knows personally and has watched blossomed over the years. What sets her gallery apart from other contemporary, abstract focused galleries is specifically her interest in what she defines as the “process- driven” artist. She loves both sides of artistic processes- both handmade masterpieces and technology enhanced works of art.
Mayer first discussed her interest with handmade art. She appreciates artists who meticulously work with the medium; one of the artists she showcases in “Abstraction Today” was actually her painting professor at Bucknell. It was rather nice to see her represent the man who had inspired her to study abstract art and ultimately represent contemporary abstract artists today. Neil Anderson, the painting professor, even attended the event and sat in the first row to clearly see his student -turned gallery owner discuss the complexities of abstract art and the contemporary art field. Furthermore, his works of art were represented in the exhibition so it was rather neat to put a face to some of the pieces of art displayed.
Bridgette Mayer was also interested in the ever growing potential of art and technology. She went on about how artists are pushed to use technology like laser cutting techniques, computer software, and silk screening prints. She explained to the audience that artists before this era would spend 2-3 months on an abstract piece. Since her process driven artists appreciate and create several layers of meticulously beautiful painted shapes, lines, etc. they would take several months to create such masterpieces. With technology however they are able to create 300 + layered paintings in a day! This vast difference in time has enabled artists to create more pieces rapidly and so as a result their aesthetic style and conceptual ideas behind the pieces have evolved throughout their careers. Although Mayer repeatedly said she appreciated handmade pieces, it was quite clear to the audience she was excited about the possibilities technology has to offer. She even made a joke to Neil Anderson about how he could use the software to transform his abstract paintings into a three dimensional sculpture while also spending less time than it had taken him to create the original two dimensional piece hanging in “Abstraction Today”. He awkwardly declined to respond to her comment indicating he was not ready to embrace the technological possibilities with his own art work. It was comical and this interaction visibly showcased to the audience the visible distinction between these two very different types of abstract artists that thrive in the contemporary field (handmade processes versus technology enhanced processes).
Overall, it was informative conversation that I appreciated the chance to sit in on. Bridgette Mayer is an inspiration to Art & Art History majors here at Bucknell because she took her passion in the Arts and made a career on it. Her time and efforts toward educating the Philadelphia public on contemporary abstract art has made her a successful gallery owner and furthermore a potential mentor to undergraduate students that aspire to do the work she does on a daily basis!
Interested in the exhibition “Abstraction Today“? It is presented in the Downtown Art Gallery located on Market St. The gallery is opened Tuesday- Sunday 12- 5pm. Check it out Neil Anderson’s art and other Pennsylvania artists represented in this group exhibition.
Curious to see Bridgette Mayer Gallery? Click here.