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Over the past thirty-three years – but particularly over the last decade – Sullivan Goss has built up a contemporary art program of thirteen artists whose works have proven culturally ascendant, albeit in different styles. The gallery’s curators selected these people for full-time representation based on their quality, individuality, value, and art historical importance.

Over that time, certain preferences have become evident for both the curators and the collectors with whom they work. The curators, for example, have gravitated towards Realism, Tonalism, Magical Realism, and strong plein air painting.

Collectors, too, have shown their preferences and the gallery has learned these preferences only too well. Phoebe Brunner’s poppy paintings have been exceedingly popular. So have Robin Gowen’s shadowed hill paintings, Hank Pitcher’s Point Conception paintings, Jon Francis’ airstream paintings, Nicole Strasburg’s tidal paintings, and Susan McDonnell’s “stagelit” still life pieces. Overall, Patricia Chidlaw’s nocturnes have sold exceedingly well. Sarah Vedder’s dreamy, atmospheric landscapes are sought for more quiet spaces, while Angela Perko’s daring and fractured paintings of architecture in the landscape have nearly always sold out.


In some cases, the individual works themselves have proven particularly popular. John Nava’s Check Out, which debuted twelve years ago and has since been shown twice, draws an audience every time. People have also commented enthusiastically about their love for Frank Kirk’s Hedge Cutters and Ken Bortolazzo’s Dipper. Of the thirteen works that are included in the exhibition, eight are brand new. Of these, one piece represents a new directions for the artist. Meredith Brooks Abbott’s Aloe seems both a departure and a promise of what might come next.

What makes these particular pieces masterworks? Artists, for better or worse, become known for their mastery of certain subjects. Cézanne, for example, had his apples. They also go through some periods or styles that are more prized than others. Most of Van Gogh’s signature paintings were created in Arles. Finally, there do seem to be discernible qualitative differences between works. Some works just seem to come off better. In the final moment, the whole effort is subjective. With any work of art, you either love it, or you don’t. With the masterworks show, the gallery is betting you’ll love it.


3:00 | Susan Bush

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