The first joint museum exhibition for New York artists who are life partners, “Two Women: Carrie Moyer and Sheila Pepe,” opened at the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art on June 26. Both artists, who have shown extensively in New York and been honored with many awards and grants, continue to push the limits of their art.
Moyer and Pepe’s work share the same space but not the same aesthetic.
Although they share an interest in abstraction and the formal qualities of art, Carrie makes paintings and Shelia is involved with installation. This show finds a common denominator between the two, celebrating the work of artists deeply interested in craft and social ideals.
Both artists write gallery criticism for Gay City News.
Moyer, a painter, uses poured color that drips and makes puddles, forming organic and symbolic shapes that she combines with images of pop icons on the flat areas of paint. Her images are informed by 1960s political poster references and hippie utopian signifiers like a raised fist, peace signs and feminist logos from spent political movements.
Moyer decontextualizes these emblems into fragments, which become formal elements, thus marrying low-tech resistance graphics with a beautiful painting space. Her paintings let us play hide and seek with imagery, as she seduces us with her painted surfaces and challenges our visual knowledge. Moyer gracefully moves between worlds characterized by contradiction and delivers a message of disillusion with a tender violence.
Pepe has created a site-specific installation, “Gowanus,” that she combines with smaller wall drawings from her long-running” doppelganger “series, setting up a conversation between hand-crafted and found objects. Her large-scale environments weave together yarn, industrial rubber bands, shoelaces and improvised crocheted passages to form webs of urban skylines and hanging grids. Her choice of material and technique refers to her familial ancestry—shoelaces from her Italian immigrant grandfather, for example, or crocheting, a craft she learned as a small child from her mother. The humble materials contradict the massive scale of this piece, which stretches overhead from the second floor balcony, and creates a tension and tenderness that transforms the space into a flight of temporary fantasy.
Moyer and Pepe’s exhibition runs through August at PBICA.