The Continental Ramblings of Mark Mulhern
The Milwaukee painter, now exhibited at Tory Folliard Gallery, offers evocative, painterly images often set in Europe.
Mark Mulhern has a long and distinguished career as a painter. The Wisconsin native’s work can be found in international collections in Paris and Prague, and he is represented locally at Tory Folliard Gallery, which is now hosting an exhibition of his recent work. Mulhern’s often monumental canvases are typically loose, flowing, and deeply evocative of atmospheric days in open air markets and European style plazas.
Some of the most poetic visuals are in Brocante Montsoreau Drizzle, where a sparse crowd of figures stand within the canvas, glazed over by soft edges as through seen through a watery window pane. The edges of the picture trail off mysteriously into fog and shadows. Mulhern also shows works on paper and some smaller oil paintings that recall objects perhaps seen at the vintage markets appearing in other works. There is a studied naiveté in a number of these, such as the images of off-kilter chair legs or sketchy coffee pots. Though a highly skilled artist, Mulhern enjoys a childlike openness and exploration in these studies.
While Mulhern’s work presents an exploration of varied approaches, the paintings on view by Cathy Martin in her exhibition This and That represent a tour-de-force of her skill. Upon entering the small east gallery off the main room at Folliard, you might think you are viewing photographs from a distance. Martin’s paintings are that acute; she has an exceptional talent for capturing light, atmosphere, and minute detail of landscapes. In this selection of works, she gravitates toward picturesque images of the countryside, with autumnal fields and rural houses and barns in glorious summer sunlight. The subjects are familiar Midwestern scenes, reflecting Martin’s own experience as a farmer. Most remarkable is that Cathy Martin does not have formal training, but handles her work with a skill, precision, and sensitivity that places her firmly in the tradition of the strongest representational painters.
Mark Mulhern: New Works and Cathy Martin: This and That continue through October 11 at Tory Folliard Gallery (233 N. Milwaukee Street).
Mark Mulhern: New Works Gallery
Cathy Martin: This and That Gallery
Saturday, October 4
Riverwest Art Walk
The Riverwest Artists Association hosts its annual open house of galleries and studios, punctuated by an art party on Saturday night at the Jazz Gallery. The Nut Factory and the Toy Factory are two venues added to the tour this year, but for a full roster of venues visit Jazz Gallery (926 E. Center Street), Riverwest Food Co-op (733 E. Clarke Street), or ArtBar (722 E. Burleigh Street) for a map and tickets ($5 adults, $3 students). The tour runs from noon to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday, October 5
Paul Cowan: Some Rehearsals
1500 N. Farwell Avenue
Opening reception 5-8pm
Artist Paul Cowan, who leans toward minimalism, will open this new exhibition at the Green Gallery with a reception this Sunday. Cowan, currently based in Chicago, is a 2007 graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, who went on to complete his MFA at the University of Illinois, Chicago.