Cross MacKenzie Gallery Presents Leslie Parke and Beth Kaminstein

By Editorial Team on May 2, 2017

Fri, 05 May 2017 - Sat, 03 June 2017

Photo courtesy of Cross MacKenzie Gallery.
Photo courtesy of Cross MacKenzie Gallery.


Opening: Friday, Mary 5 from 6pm to 8pm


Cross MacKenzie Gallery announces their upcoming exhibition of new photographs and ceramics by two extraordinary artists who are showing their work together for the first time. Leslie Parke’s photographs and Beth Kaminstein’s ceramics explore reflective and seductive surfaces in widely different medium but with the same passion and visual complexity.

Beth Kaminstein, whose work they last paired with her mentor Helen Frankenthaler, deftly wields layers of glaze on her oversized clay vessels as the painter stained and poured paint on her canvases. The colors are fluid and watery – her intuitive gestures and painterly surprises dash across the stoneware surface.  Her glazes are smooth and reflective and pool in glassy deep pockets then push up against raw rough and matte clay. The tactile quality does not need to be resisted – these functional works of art can elegantly serve up your favorite poached salmon.

Leslie Parke is first and foremost an accomplished painter whose Beach China show was celebrated by the Washington Community at Cross MacKenzie in 2013 and described in The Post as “emphatic and enveloping.” Parke has long used photography as a tool to capture images in the world she likes to study and use as source material for her complex and detailed paintings.  She would then translate these ambiguous subjects of reflected insulation foil, saran wrapped recycling blocks or tire-tread puddles into a language of abstraction, using gesture and paint to create luscious bold canvases. Recently, a museum director asked why she didn’t print the beautiful photographs themselves and recognize the prints as ends in themselves, stand alone works of art. She did just that and after honing these images using her digital paint brush she created a body of work of photographs. She still grapples with the Modernist concern with abstraction and surface, but now in a 21st-century digital language.

Parke says, “They incorporate contemporary concerns about the nature of reality, the trustworthiness of our perceptions and the sustainability of our civilization, while offering visual and intellectual delight.  My approach remains largely that of a painter. I want the photograph to look like a painting and be responded to as a painting. I looked at archival inkjet printers as a new painting medium.  Basically I was painting with a camera. I undo what it is that we understand about something. Is it a painting or a photograph?  Is it something real or something abstract? Are we looking through something, at something, or at something reflected? I think that the more times I am able to multiply these questions, the more interesting things become.”

Leslie Parke, an artist from upstate New York, is a recipient of the Esther and Adolph Gottlieb Grant for Individual Support, the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest grant as artist- in-residence at the Claude Monet Foundation in Giverny, France, and the George Sugarman Foundation Grant, among others. Her exhibits include the Williams College Museum of Art; The Bennington Museum, Bennington, Vermont; the Museum of the Southwest, Midland, Texas; the Fernbank Museum, Atlanta, Georgia; the Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin; and the Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Parke has a BA and MA from Bennington College. Her work is in numerous corporate and private collections.

A New York City native, Beth Kaminstein has been a practicing ceramist since her student days at Bennington College, after which she worked and taught at the Greenwich House Pottery, Parsons School of Art and Montclair State College. Her foray into female weigh lifting after college won her second prize in the Untied States. This demonstration of her dedication and willpower is evidenced more recently in her community activism.  She lives and works in an idyllic setting in the Florida Keys where in addition to making her own art, she is a leader in the arts community, serving on the county public arts board, building schools, aquatic centers and teaching ceramics. She recently organized and curated a seminal exhibition in the Keys of paintings by renowned artists Larry Poons and Jules Olitski who both worked on Islamorada.

The Cross MacKenzie Gallery is located at 1675 Wisconsin Ave. NW.