440 Gallery is pleased to present Swing, a new series of acrylic paintings by abstract artist Jo-Ann Acey. This is the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery and features works that have been in development for the past two years. Acey’s works on paper and wood panels have a large-scale presence on the wall, as do several pieces that attract the viewer to explore smaller, intimate spaces. As an ongoing series of paintings, Acey developed Swing out of childhood memories. She recalls being captivated by the dancing and music that her parents were so fond of, and her life at home often revolved around watching her parents jitterbug. The movement, sounds and energy, joyous as it was at the time, became an inspiration for Jo-Ann to examine in her artwork. Freed of nostalgia, Jo-Ann goes on to create spontaneous, pattern-filled surfaces that she fills with sweeping brush strokes and areas of vivid color. The work is a dialogue about the back and forth, adding and subtracting, and layering of decisive marks—similar to how the bold, brassy dance bands from her past summon up a time and a place.
In a nod to a formative study of Chinese brush painting techniques while in art school, Jo-Ann approaches each work without a goal in mind. Working on a flat surface with brush and ink, she begins making marks on the surface with broad, distinctive strokes that sweep along the arc of her hand and arm. Color is introduced gradually and through thickly-applied acrylic paint; she works in and out of the painting to develop palettes that can be muted pastels in some cases, or saturated primaries in others. Most importantly, color dances around vast open white spaces within the composition. Says Acey, “Working in a series, often two or three paintings at a time, allows me to access the progression of each piece. Each one in the series makes the other stronger.”
Jo-Ann Acey’s studio practice is located at Brooklyn Art Cluster in the eponymous art neighborhood of Gowanus. She is a graduate of Daemen College, Amherst, NY and earned her MFA in painting and drawing from Texas Tech University. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and is included in private collections around the globe including Villa Pignano in Voltaire, Italy. As an art educator, Acey has brought the love of visual art to generations of young people, many whom fondly come back to visit her and stand proudly at her side. She designed and implemented art curricula for the Studio in a School Program and the United Nations International School, both in NYC, and continues to consult with various educational programs in the area.