Helen A. Harrison, Curator
“Ten Artists” Catalogue
Guild Hall Museum
I am a painter and writer based in Manhattan, where I was born, and in Mattituck on the North Fork of Long Island, where I spent time as a child. As I grew up, my family often moved throughout the United States. My earliest influence as an artist was my grandmother, Mary Sherwood Wright Jones. She was a professional artist having trained at Parson’s School of Fine and Applied Art and the Art Student’s League in New York City. I remember watching her work at a small table at home in Newark, OH, where she illustrated children’s literature from 1924 into the ‘60s. Most notably her drawings were published each week for over two decades in the national children’s newspaper, My Weekly Reader. Her lively, finely crafted drawings revealed my Grandmother’s love of nature, fairy tales and a playful symbiosis of text and image, all elements of my own work. As a child I was not aware that her drawings were seen by millions of school children each week, but I did learn about mixing colors and shading forms at her side. She provided me with an emotional grounding throughout all our moves and supported my creative endeavors. As a teenager, I studied at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. In addition to my grandmother, my teachers encouraged my work, which was frequently selected for honors and display. My interest in drawing, painting and art history was also cultivated by visits to museums and classes outside of school.
I studied fine art at Pomona College in Claremont, CA. Upon graduation in May 1978 I received the fine arts honor, The Mary Drew Art Award, for my accomplishments in painting from the Pomona College Art Department. I studied with Charles Daugherty and Timothy App who exposed me to the work of bonafide painters in Los Angeles and the Bay Area such as Richard Diebenkorn and David Park. I also pursed dance and filmmaking alongside my painting studies. During my sophomore year I studied art history and classical mime in Paris. My senior show at Pomona College in 1978 was comprised of large, abstract, freeform, shaped works on paper layered with gestural oil pastel marks in atmospheric colors. I also screened my short film about the process of writing and the sensuality of clothing, specifically a pair of pink shoes I had bought in Paris. After I graduated, I was invited by the graduate art faculty to exhibit my work in April 1979 at the Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, CA.
Beginning in September 1979 I worked for a year at The Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, OH, in their art conservation department. I had a studio and continued to paint, exploring styles ranging from pattern and decoration to figuration. I exhibited my large, colorful shaped paper paintings in the Oberlin College’s Allen Art Building in April 1980. In September 1980, I began a two-year MFA program at The Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI. My formal exploration of painting continued alongside trips to galleries and museums in New York City and conversations with faculty and guest critics including Pat Adams, Barbara Schwartz, David Salle, Richard Merkin and Eric Fischl. In November of 1981 a group of my drawings and a paper sculpture vase were accepted for a solo exhibition at the Sarah Doyle Gallery at Brown University, Providence, RI. For my MFA exhibition, in May of 1982, I showed a suite of figurative work based on family narratives at the RISD Museum.
After graduating, I returned to the Bay Area and supported myself as a landscape architect while maintaining studios first in San Francisco and next in Oakland. For my work during this period I merged the shaped paper materials from my undergraduate exhibition, with motifs of figures floating in motion. In 1985 I exhibited my work most notably at the Women’s Building in Los Angeles, CA. I also showed at Palo Alto Cultural Center, Palo Alto, CA, where Alfred Jan favorably discussed my work in the publication Artweek in July 1985.
The next year I was awarded the William Steeple Davis Fellowship, an artist residency in Orient, NY, not far from my current studio in Mattituck. The fellowship provided me with a studio and housing for one year, from October of 1986 to October of 1987. I was able to dedicate the year to painting in a rural environment back on the east coast. The work I produced there freely interlaced the genres of portrait, still life and landscape. The space in these paintings was disrupted with an overlay of geometric elements. Helen A. Harrison, then Curator at the Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton, NY, where my work was shown in a group exhibition in 1988, wrote about my paintings in the show’s catalogue saying, “[Pundyk’s] work suggests that understanding requires another interpretive tool, or perhaps a personal surrender to a deeper, less accessible, level of cognition.” Phyllis Braff reviewed my paintings in this show for The New York Times, in July of 1988. That same year a selection of my new paintings were also included in an exhibition at the Elaine Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY curated by Werner Kramarsky. During my residency in Orient, I made occasional trips to New York City where Greenpoint, Brooklyn, became the base for my art community. My work was included in several exhibitions at The Minor Injury Gallery in 1987 and 1988. In 2012 one of these projects was featured in the book edited by Lauren Rosati and Mary Anne Staniszewski, Alternative Histories, New York Art Space, 1960 – 2010, published by MIT Press.
1988 brought significant change in my personal life. I moved to New York City after my residency in Orient, got married and within two years started a family. I contributed to the support of my family by working in marketing for architectural design firms and as a financial consultant. I set aside my art making when our daughter and son were young. In 1995, however, with the encouragement of my family, I was able to resume my art practice. I rented a studio initially in Tribeca and later was given the use of an industrial space in lower mid-town by my husband’s family. Working on paper, I painted large-scale images of teacups and chairs from my grandmother’s house surrealistically set in landscapes. I began exhibiting my work in the Hamptons, returning to show at The Elaine Benson Gallery in 1999; at The Forrest Scott Gallery, Millburn, NY, in 2001 and 2002; and in New York City at the DFN Gallery in 2002.
My parents moved to Lexington, VA in 1993. Coincidently, the painter, Cy Twombly, returned to live part-time near my parents home that same year. I made his acquaintance and had the pleasure of visiting him and his studio several times. Through an introduction from Twombly, I was invited to have a solo show in New York City, at the Asyl Gallery in Chelsea in 2000. That year I also exhibited at the University of Virginia’s Digestive Health Center in Charlottesville, VA. The Center acquired several of my chair and teacup paintings, which are now on permanent display. In 2003 I was invited to have a solo show at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA. For this body of work, I incorporated references to the myth of Persephone, a mother/daughter story, within my format of still life elements and portraits. Claudia Schwab in the arts section of the Lexington News-Gazette featured the show as a cover story and I was invited to lecture about the exhibition at the University. I was also invited to lecture about this body of work for the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in my studio in Manhattan in April 2004.
In the aftermath of 9/11 and my father’s death in 2003 I worked for several years in an insular fashion returning to a traditional format of oil on linen painting figurative scenes of landscapes and family portraits. After my children reached high school, I challenged myself to engage more directly in critical dialogue and seek out art platforms and communities beyond my sphere at the time. In 2008, I took a philosophy and aesthetics course at The New School with Professor Timothy Quigley. Reading Kant’s Critique of Judgment cemented my belief in the power of the subjective voice and gave me a vocabulary for articulating visual experience. Kant’s writings reinforced my interest in incorporating ideas from other disciplines such as history, psychology, literature and science into my art practice. Shortly after taking the class I began writing art reviews and essays, and conducting interviews for The Brooklyn Rail and other publications including Art In America, artcritical, Hyperallergic, Slutist, Hysteria, and ART21 Magazine. In 2010, Professor Leonard Cassutto at Fordham University invited me to collaborate on a multi-disciplinary project called “The Art of Captivity.” I accepted his offer of the position of Assistant Teacher in September of 2010 and together we combined his English curriculum with a visual arts program resulting in a group exhibition, catalogue and website of related student writing.
I continued to paint in oil and acrylic on stretched linen, however, my imagery moved away from a grounded representational space as if the force of gravity had disappeared. An emotionally directed changeability determined the unfolding of images in my paintings. I wrote about my work at the time, “While what you first see are objects made using the vocabulary of materials associated with a traditional painting process, before I manipulate these elements my work originates within a non-material, interior realm.” Based on seeing these paintings, Tara Mathison, then Director of the Queens College Art Center in Flushing, NY invited me to participate in an artist-in-residence program from January to May of 2011, called “Express + Local,” for which I created work on site in the gallery. Having access to an academic gallery adjacent to a library and large circular atrium space was a catalyst for me to create a large-scale installation deconstructing my painting process, called “Mourning Tower.” With the support of Suzanna Simor, Head of the Art Library at Queens College, and inspired by the writing of Viola Kolarov Timm, a scholar of Shakespeare and Freud, I used my examination of the medium of painting to underscore the need to publically reveal the deaths of American soldiers in the Middle East veiled at the time from the public.
In April 2011 my video called “My Atlas: Linsday/A Report to An Academy,” based on one of my paintings and its relationship to a short story by Kafka, was given the Bronze Award at an Artillery Magazine screening in Hollywood, CA. Building on the success of my association with the Queens College Art Center, I was invited to undertake the position of lead artist-in-residence there from January to May 2012. I chose to explore the theme of Rapunzel’s entrapment in a tower and her use of hair as a means of communication. As part of this residency I exhibited a solo show in April of 2012 with examples of my work related to the theme from 1983 to 2012. I also led the preparation of a collaborative program including 23 other artists, writers and filmmakers called, “Rapunzel in the Library,” This resulted in a group exhibition and catalogue in May 2012.
My continued interest in deconstructing my painting process and bringing out a subjective space manifested in the site-specific work I created for the group show “Material Tak,” curated by Kara Rooney at Panepinto Galleries, Jersey City, NJ, in June 2012. Charles Kessler, in The Left Bank Art Blog, praised my piece in June 2012 saying, “I was particularly interested in Anne Sherwood Pundyk’s installation. By creating a wallpaper-like background for her paintings, Pundyk transformed this …Chelsea-style space into a congenial environment — a more private, almost residential space that allows you to slowly savor this rich work.” I also created a solo maze-like installation of paintings called, “Rented World” in a street level, glass enclosed space at The MAve Hotel in Manhattan in December of 2012. An interview I did with the artist and musician Bianca Casady in Art In American in August 2012 led to my role as co-editor with Casady of the feminist arts magazine Girls Against God. As part of my work on the magazine, I was co-curator of a large-scale, multimedia immersive performance incorporating women’s occult aesthetic through music, dance, and video, called “Wolf Moon Gathering” at MoMA PS1 in January 2014. Concurrent with these projects I had an association with Susan Eley Fine Art on the upper west side of Manhattan from 2008 to 2015, which resulted in two solo shows and several group exhibitions. Julie Higonnet positively reviewed one of my solo shows at Susan Eley Fine Art, “Stadia,” in The Brooklyn Rail in January 2014.
Using the medium of painting to express the feeling of personal agency drives my current work. One wall-sized work I created in September 2014 for a feminist curatorial and performance project called “Milk and Night,” at Gallery Sensei, Manhattan, NY, led to my discovery of the suitability of unstretched canvas for my current purposes. I needed to cover a large section of the gallery wall as a backdrop for other paintings. In the process of creating this “backdrop” on unstretched canvas, I realized the qualities of the drop cloth perfectly met my interests in how I wanted viewers to engage with my work. Noah Dillon interviewed me about this project in artcritical in April 2015. He commented that the new large canvas painting was, “…a palimpsest of the performative aspect of painting.”
Between April 2015 and September 2016 I had three solo shows of large-scale, brightly colored abstract paintings on unstretched canvas. One exhibition, “The Revolution Will Be Painted,” at the Christopher Stout Gallery was selected by artcritical editor, David Cohen as his featured “pick” in April 2015. This show was also reviewed by Seph Rodney in Hyperallergic and by Pat Rogers in Hamptons Art Hub in April 2015. One painting in the exhibition was awarded as “Best Overall Artwork,” in the Hamptons Art Hub competition juried by Christine Berry in November 2016. Mark Jenkins in The Washington Post reviewed another of my solo exhibitions at Adah Rose Gallery, Kensington, MD. Adah Rose Gallery has represented my work since 2015.
I relocated my studio to Mattituck back on the North Fork of Long Island in June 2014. The East End has its own aesthetic history and contemporary art community I feel I'm still just beginning to explore seven years later. I've been pleased to participate with community and cultural hubs on the North and South Forks. Increasingly, especially due to the pandemic, I feel a strong connection between the arts and important community causes. Not unlike my time during my William Steeple Davis residency, the rural landscape has provided a setting conducive to processing not only my personal experiences with family and friends, but larger world events. My ability to reflect on these experiences and relationships as a contemporary maker of art objects and framer of experiences has deepened within the context of the East End countryside.