The prints and paintings of Karen Whitman and Richard Pantell are alive with the images of the street life of New York City and its urban landscape.
Their city dwellers are passionately depicted underground as subway riders, serenaded by musicians, among the rich textures of subway tracks, mosaics and graffiti, as buses and trolleys rumble above.
On sidewalk level, people are walking dogs under the Brooklyn Bridge, along Columbus Circle, or in front of the post office as a firetruck pulls out of the firehouse on its way to answer a fire alarm box call; picnicking in their backyards in Williamsburgh, Brooklyn; hanging out in the East Village or hanging out their laundry on a Greenwich Village morning; pedaling their pushcarts through the Five Points or vending hot dogs in front of a luncheonette in the Bronx; or looking up at the skyline toward the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Citicorp Building and Con Ed Building as they appear to dance a whimsical Midtown Mambo.
Other dramas take place behind the architectural facades: a nude woman plays blues on her electric guitar in her apartment bay window; an old paleontology buff examines fossils and skulls while woolly mammoths and mastodon skeletons tower behond him at the American Museum of Natural History; or you can go between the buildings to find alley cats strutting about or down to the water to find a smoking bather wading in the Harlem River.
City life through the eyes of Whitman and Pantell continues above Manhattan and the five boroughs. In one scenario lovers have a rooftop rendez-vous, and in another, a young woman sits in her window at twilightpeering down as elevated trains pull into the subway station, both with the Williamsburgh Bridge as a backdrop. Meanwhile, a young man flies his kite against a sky it shares with the Manhattan Bridge. Whether a scene of an Upper West Side vista, a rooftop garden or a bird's-eye view of the crowded hustle and bustle of a cobblestone street below, these cityscapes abound with skylights, watertowers, clocktowers, smokestacks and chimneys, all majestic guardians of the streets below.
The prints of Whitman and Pantell include etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, and linoleum block prints (linoleum cuts, linocuts). All prints are hand pulled by the artists on both modern and antique presses, signed and numbered in limited editions. These prints are created in the time honored tradition that dates back to Durer and Rembrandt and was continued through the eras of Käthe Kollwitz, Otto Dix, John Sloan, Reginald Marsh, Martin Lewis, Joseph Pennell and M.C. Escher, up to the contemporaries whose styles are as distinctive as David Hockney, Will Barnet, Lucian Freud, Jim Dine, and Red Grooms. Whitman and Pantell continue to explore the potentials of the same media as these revered masters from points of view that are freshly their own.
The work of Richard Pantell, an instructor at the Art Students League of New York, also includes oil paintings, many of which explore the same images as his prints. Other of his themes reach beyond the city to include subjects as diverse as stargazers, and Raoul Wallenberg, one of the great heroes of World War II.
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