Asters & Goldenrod : Curated by Hilary Schaffner & Tessa G. O'Brien

20 September - 12 November 2023
“If a fountain could jet bouquets of chrome yellow in dazzling arches of chrysanthemum fireworks, that would be Canada Goldenrod…Where the soil is damp enough, they stand side by side with their perfect counterpart, New England Asters…The daisylike fringe of purple petals surrounds a disc as bright as the sun at high noon, a golden orange pool, just a tantalizing shade darker than the surrounding goldenrod. Alone, each is a botanical superlative. Together, the visual effect is stunning. Purple and gold, the heraldic colors of the king and queen of the meadow, a royal procession in complementary colors…Why do they stand beside each other when they could grow alone?” - Excerpt from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

The interdependence of flowers is quickly evident in a glance outside during late summer in Maine, but the question prevails year-round between artists. What is the magic alchemy that braids individuals together across time and geographical distance, creating a third entity that is a conversation, a question, a wellspring of inspiration and a buffer against the noise of the world? 


In Asters & Goldenrod, the curatorial team invited five New England-based artists to nominate a peer with whom they are in a creative dialogue to be part of the exhibition. The resulting pairings show clear formal threads through shared material thinking and color harmonies, but more distinct is the attitude that the pairings take on, as if they are listening to the same album. Lauren Luloff and Ilse Sørensen Murdock immerse the landscape in a static buzz of repeated marks, pushing and pulling the grid in and out of focus. Jennie Jieun Lee and Emily Noelle Lambert create expansive ceramics, glazing with a painters’ sensibility and building with free-form confidence. Hannah Secord Wade and Richard Yu-Tang Lee go muted and mysterious, Yu-Tang Lee’s dreamy percussion of brushstrokes vibrating next to Wade’s soft pastel worlds of her signature symbol language. Meghan Brady and Jackie Gendel play with geometry and storytelling in rich, saturated hues, flattening the body and puzzling shapes into layered painterly compositions. Eleanor Conover and Matthew Sepielli fracture space in low-relief earth tones, mining their surfaces and minding their edges. 


Asters & Goldenrod is curated by Tessa G. O’Brien & Hilary Schaffner, in collaboration with Alice Gauvin Gallery. The show opens September 20th with an opening reception from 5-8pm on Friday September 22nd, and runs through November 12th. 


The artists exhibited include Meghan Brady, Lauren Luloff, Eleanor Conover, Emily Noelle Lambert, Richard Yu-Tang Lee, Ilse Sørenson Murdock, Matthew Sepielli, Jennie Jieun Lee, Jackie Gendel, Hannah Secord Wade. Read on for statements by the initial five artists on why they selected the artist that they chose, and the nature of those creative dialogues. 


"I think Hannah Secord Wade and I are speaking through our paintings on the same subjects using a different vocabulary. Both of us are continually investigating the cooperation of opposites through visual variations on a few broad, natural themes such as plants or animals. Hannah is showing us views from an interior world that are clear and fully realized in their rendering and impact but feel fleeting – a scene just barely captured as its moment of disassembly. I am likewise attempting to depict a moment of transition in the blurring and dissolution of my subjects. While we've chosen different settings in which to play out our investigation, I think we're ultimately attempting to illustrate the same thing, the simultaneity of our own coming into being and erasure." - Richard Lee on Hannah Secord Wade


"I am extremely captivated by Ilse’s round landscape paintings on plywood. They strike me down. I love how loose they are, yet they really grab at something so true in the landscape, that you feel it completely and believe it, but you also feel yourself letting go into just the paint. The wooden painting surface, a found object cut by llse in her studio, is also used as a pallette for these en plein air paintings, so mushy smears and chunks of leftover paint are in the mix too.  I live with two of these circular seascapes in my home- and they really bring me there: to the water's edge with light moving and sparkling on the surface, and to the act of painting itself- perceiving, interpreting and also just feeling." - Lauren Luloff on Ilse Sørenson Murdock


"I met Matt when he was teaching in the painting program at Tyler, where I was studying there as a graduate student. He introduced me to the sensitivity that can be cultivated in the making of both an object and an illusion. His work has also been a generous reminder to me of the agency and freedom that an artist can hold in choosing how and what to make, even and especially when the urge is to make many different-looking ideas at once, often against the conventions of rectangular paintings on canvas prepared with gesso. A few years ago, Matt sent an email to a few artists that included me. Attached were images of the backs of some paintings: those strange, inner lives or alter egos of their fronts, sometimes revealing a hidden, failed attempt. I don’t think either of our painting practices seek to hide the unpredictable time, effort, and structure that is involved in the making (and re-making). This may involve stapling, un-stapling, flipping, and painting over, and eventually arriving at some form of completion, even as a kind of earnest searching compels us to start the process all over again."  - Eleanor Conover on Matthew Sepielli


"Inspiration challenges the way I think about what I am doing in the studio. It gives a

glimpse of possibility just beyond the horizon. Jennie’s work that makes me want to dive back into the studio to dig deeper expanding the edges of my imagination.


I returned to ceramics during the pandemic as a way to get out of my home and in many

ways a place to get out of my head. Hands in clay making dimensional elements,

thoughts, and senses of ideas I want in my paintings. The physicality of clay and its

ability to take up space—juxtaposed with the paintings the sculptures become an

extension of the landscape of the painting.... Jennie’s painterly application of glazes, mark making and figurative elements peeking through was like a shock of lightning." - Emily Noelle Lambert on Jennie Jieun Lee

"The creative dialogue that I am in with Jack Gendel is really one-sided admiration.  My eye has been drawn to her paintings over the years for its generative, tireless reinvention.  Gendel uses paint, form, light, and narrative as a fundamental set of parameters to be moved, buried, and resurrected which result in a feast of outcomes.  When I spend time with her paintings I long to get myself to my own studio quickly to get to work and when I get there, I feel a new sense of freedom and possibility."  - Meghan Brady on Jackie Gendel