December 2023

How to Sing a Duet (as a Visual Artist)
Philip Gerstein


Before music there was silence,
 and the duet format allows you to build from the silence..."
~ Charlie Haden


I am happy to continue the musical analogy mode
of my last two Scene4 Features:

My artist friend and I are singing a duet, in visual art terms that is... by mounting a vibrant 2-person gallery exhibition* in New York City this month. You are all invited, dear gentle and learned readers, to the front row seats -- here at Scene4 virtually, and at our Vernissage on December 8 in person!

My partner in this venture, Jo Ann Rothschild, is something of a dean of Boston color abstractionists. I met her decades ago, and as my own artwork broadened and matured, we became color abstractionist buddies, most appreciative of each other's painting, intimate knowledge of art history, and a quirky sense of art humor -- plus a certain weakness for a particular Boston baseball team.

I love Jo Ann's sense of color and composition, and admire a constant intuitive evolution of her art -- her adventurousness grafted fortuitously onto an awareness of underlying balance. She is a true and serious artist. Jo Ann has worked in several mediums, drawing, printmaking and collage in addition to painting, and in sizes varying from small to very large, as a few examples below will attest to.

In comparison, my own work tends to carry a heavier texture, and in a parallel development ranges widely, utilizing several distinct modes of color abstraction. Jo Ann's painting relies primarily on canvas, mine on wood panel; her paintings have often involved collage, while mine utilize textural mediums to vary and enliven the surface. We each sing in our own voice and listen to our distinct inner vibration -- but for both our dearest expressive means, our North Star is probably color!

Rothschild, "John Meets Paul",  55 x 42 in.
(140 x 107 cm), Oil on linen, 2006


Gerstein, "Beyond the Idea of Rightdoing and Wrongdoing", 30 x 24 in., (76 x 61 cm), Oil stick, acrylic, pigment, mixed media on wood panel, 2018


For this exhibition, our initial plan was to select paintings that showed the fuller, more filled, and directly impactful modes of our work, and accordingly to title our exhibition EXUBERANCE!.. However, as months passed, the exhibition opening drew closer -- while the world seemed to insist on descending into a spiral of chaos and willful violence -- and somehow our exuberance began to feel... well, a little premature?.. Perhaps paralleling the complexity of the world, the complexity of our paintings needed to be expressed with a somewhat different selection and a new title. Yes, a title which would reflect our process, capable of touching the deepest non-verbal part of ourselves while allowing for an unbroken connection to history -- the history of art and culture and that divine gift of the freedom of self-expression... . Our show title, perhaps we found it:


Paintings of Jo Ann Rothschild and Philip Gerstein


While the precise look of our exhibition (at this writing) is yet undetermined, our paintings will probably face each other across the shorter span of the gallery -- and are likely to feature these or similar comparisons & contrasts:

Rothschild,  "Little Surprise",  30 x 26 in. ,   (76 x 66 cm), Oil on linen, 2018


Gerstein, "Evening with the Boys", 36 x 36 in. (91 x 91 cm),
Oil stick, acrylic, pigment, and mixed textural media on wood panel, 2018


Rothschild,  "7-5-2023", 30 x 44 in. (76 x 112 cm),
Watercolor, gouache, ink, graphite, & collage on Rives bfk paper


Gerstein "Another Moon, Another Midnight", 40 x 30 in., (102 x 76 cm)
Oil stick, acrylic, flashe, paper collage, drawing & mixed media on wood panel, 2023


Rothschild,  "7-4-2023", 16 x 29 in. (41 x 74 cm),
Oil on canvas


Gerstein, "King of Prussia", 20 x 30 in., (51 x 76 cm)
Acrylic & mixed media on wood panel, 2021


I am thus very happy to introduce Scene4 readers to Jo Ann Rothschild's work, while we both doubly look forward to sharing with you the experience of our New York exhibition, blending our separate arias into a new duet for this auspicious occasion.

 *  *  *

* UNFORCED ORDER: Paintings of Jo Ann Rothschild and Philip Gerstein .  Exhibition Opening = Friday, December 8, 2023, 5:30-8pm at LICHTUNDFIRE, 175 Rivington Street, New York, NY USA 10002 (Lower East Side). Exhibition Dates: Dec.6, 2023 - Jan.6, 2024.


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Born and raised in Moscow, Russia, Philip Gerstein began exhibiting his work in the 1980's, while pursuing a PhD in Art History at Harvard University. He studied painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Japanese calligraphy with Toshu Ogawa. Gerstein exhibits in NYC, Provincetown MA, and extensively in the Boston area, as well as organizing and curating painting and photography shows. For his paintings – extensively reviewed and widely collected see For his other work in Scene4, check the Archives

©2023 Philip Gerstein
©2023 Publication Scene4 Magazine




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