December 5, 2022
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  • The work of an Easton-based painter is on display in a gallery near Schuylkill Haven

The work of an Easton-based painter is on display in a gallery near Schuylkill Haven

By on October 17, 2022 0

October 17 – SCHUYLKILL HAVEN – A series of non-objective images associated with seemingly unrelated words and names are depicted in Joseph O’Neal’s new exhibition of cryptic art, “Letters from the Earth.”

“I would consider myself a formalist painter,” said the Easton-based artist. “I am concerned with color and composition and offer an opportunity to the viewer.”

O’Neal’s art is decidedly nondescript and abstract, he said, giving viewers an opportunity to form an unbiased and honest response.

“The viewer has to be ready to get on the merry-go-round, so to speak,” he said, “but I see my job as arranging shapes, colors, and text in such a way that something can possibly occur (within the viewer).”

The 15 pieces that make up the collection are on sale at Cabin Contemporary, an art gallery in North Manheim Twp. Prices range from $250 for a small pencil and wax pastel drawing called “For Us” to $5,000 for a large acrylic painting called “Plant.”

“Letters from Earth” was inspired by a list of words O’Neal had created while spending time in his backyard.

As such, nature-based phrases and scenes such as ‘cosmic light’, ‘whole flower’ and ‘high peaks’ feature prominently in the work.

“It’s just kind of a restriction of your choices,” he said. “I was just thinking of different ways to frame this, so I derived the words as I sat in a garden, and saw the title of a book (by Mark Twain), a collection of poems, titled “Letters from Earth”, and I appropriated the title.”

Some paintings feature a soft combination of pastel colors, while others use a more jarring mix of reds, yellows and blues against a black background.

He figures that O’Neal, whose work is very abstract, tends to talk about his art in abstractions.

“It’s an explosion of expression…an organization, compositionally, which can be enjoyable,” he said. “And then you juxtapose that with the words and the dates, which act as the anchor, or some kind of concrete, for (a kite).”

He also compares his work to an amusement park or an ocean.

“The ocean is nothing more than an opportunity, is it? ” he said. “You can use it to swim, you can use it to fish for food and food. … Ultimately, I see my job as creating oceans, and what you do with the ocean depends from you. “

O’Neal, 39, has been painting and creating seriously for 20 years.

Although he has no formal training, he is a professor of painting at Rutgers University in Newark. Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Europe and Mexico.

Cabin Contemporary, which opened in June, is a small white cabin on the property of local artist Lance Rautzhan.

It is open by appointment only; appointments can be made by emailing [email protected]

Contact the author: [email protected]; 570-628-6085