Nature Works III by Joe Plageman is a painterly exploration, distinctive and defined by the artist’s mining of natural media. This solo exhibit introduces recent work on paper and cloth, created between May 2006 through April 2009, wherein Plageman broadens his palette with the incorporation of collard leaves, beet stem juice, and spices such as turmeric, chili and paprika. As with his earlier explorations from 2002 and on, harvested substances such as tree marrow, black walnuts, asiatic day flowers, milkweed, mulberries, blackberries, choke cherries, poke berries, forest fern and red rose petals, remain as staples. With the exception of the roses, Plageman gathers all the flora when in season, to keep alert and in close contact with the flow and change in living things. The works range from organized and improvised patterns rubbed from natural objects, to imagery depicting natural phenomena, land and seascapes, and symbols of human catastrophe, joy and play.
Plageman is mostly a self-taught artist. His only formal art training took place from the age of ten to sixteen at the Museum School Saturday morning classes held in buildings now occupied by the University of the Arts. He also had in-depth training in piano and voice projection as a boy and continues to play and improvise. He writes verse and attempts haiku. He has a BA in Philosophy, an MA in French, and extensive credits in Theology. He attended Saint Mary’s Catholic Seminary in Baltimore for five and one half years, holds Sorbonne diplomas in French Civ and Language, and studied at Middlebury, Princeton, and NYU. He was in the US Army for three and one half years and assigned to Paris in the Liaison Branch of Counter-Intelligence back in the late 1950’s. Joe has spent some eight years in France in all. His artistic appreciation has been enriched over the years by his French-American wife, Anne-Marie, and her family: she worked at UNESCO, her mother was a museum curator and archaeologist and her brother a fine painter and cartoonist.
Nature Works III opens April 3, 2009, at Highwire Gallery, 2040 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA. Closes on April 26, 2009.
Preview of the show follows.