Painting With Stone: Sam Moyer at Sean Kelly Gallery

Sam Moyer’s exceptional exhibition “Tone” just wrapped up at Sean Kelly Gallery in New York on April 24th. Presenting paintings that incorporate large pieces of marble and a room of precariously balanced sculptures, it’s a poetic, strong, fragile, and ethereal exhibition worth visiting in person. The exhibition ran concurrently with Moyer’s large outdoor installation “Doors for Doris” at Doris C. Freedman Plaza at the southeast entrance of Central Park.

Sam’s paintings are literal meetings of marble and canvas. While the primary composition is often created from broken marble remnants or other cut stone, the surrounding color field is a puzzle-piece of canvas. The hand-made sections do more than fill the gaps of the stone, they also impose the rectangle of a “traditional painting” that is often skewed or broken by the outcroppings of the solid rock.

Sam Moyer, Little Pitcher, 2020

Sam Moyer, Borrowed Cup, 2021

Installation view of Sam Moyer: Tone at Sean Kelly, New York

The two materials also play between the architectural function of the marble (notice the scars of the marble’s previous life as a table, countertop or cut-off remnant) and the pure aesthetics of abstract painting. Moyer’s incredible gift is creating both the complex problem and satisfying solution, with an invitation to every viewer to imagine that process.

Sam Moyer, Daisy Chain, 2021

Sam Moyer, Butter Friend, 2021

Installation view of Sam Moyer: Tone at Sean Kelly, New York

This new work is an intriguing evolution of her material. Previously, the canvas sections in Moyer’s works were painted with thin layers or splatters of acrylic paint that really played with the idea of “paint on canvas” next to the rock. This new work however, adds a layer of plaster to the canvas before it was painted. Therefore the surfaces don’t feel or look like fabric, but themselves resemble stucco walls or classic frescos. These new velvet-like surfaces of plaster-coated canvas absorb the light in strong opposition to the often-polished marble. This new material contrast of two sculptural surfaces adds an incredibly satisfying element of light play when viewing these in person.

Sam Moyer, Side Affect, 2020

Sam Moyer, Circle Square, 2021

Sam Moyer, Trouble Mind, 2021

In addition to the works on the wall, Moyer’s self-supporting sculptures occupied a darkly-lit room off the main gallery space. Titled “Dependents”, each are created from the pairings of cut stone and hand-poured concrete elements. Literally dependent on each other for support, these large puzzle pieces balance with no other means of security. Alluding to the passage of time and erosion, the concrete sections incorporate small stones found on the beaches of Long Island that are revealed through sandblasting after casting.

Sam Moyer, Dependents 4, 2021

Installation view of Sam Moyer: Tone at Sean Kelly, New York

Check out the virtual exhibition page which includes many more photographs of works, a 3D walkthrough of the gallery and a number of insightful zoom interviews with the artist!

Installation view of Sam Moyer: Tone at Sean Kelly, New York

The exhibition at Sean Kelly Gallery is closed, but Moyer’s exceptional outdoor sculpture “Doors for Doris” is on view through September 12th at the entrance to Central Park on Doris C. Freedman Plaza.

Sam Moyer, Doors for Doris, 2020. Courtesy Sam Moyer Studio and Sean Kelly, New York \ Photo: Nicholas Knight, Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

Sam Moyer, Doors for Doris, 2020. Courtesy Sam Moyer Studio and Sean Kelly, New York \ Photo: Nicholas Knight, Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

These massive “doorways” merge two famous rocks within Manhattan: the indigenous bluestone of the land itself, and the imported polished marble of corporate lobbies. The doors feel particularly welcoming right now in a city that’s increasingly re-opening and re-blossoming every day.

The work (and its title “Doors for Doris”) pays homage to the incredible Public Art Fund founder, Doris C. Freeman (1928-1981).  Check out more about the work on the Public Art Fund’s website here.

Sam Moyer \ Photo: Jason Schmidt

What: Sam Moyer “Tone”
Where: Sean Kelly Gallery, 475 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY
When: March 12 – April 24, 2021

“Doors for Doris” is on view at Doris C Freedman Plaza, (SE corner of Central Park) through September 12, 2021.

Artwork & Installation photography by JSP Art Photography, courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly, New York © Sam Moyer, unless otherwise noted.

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