Julianne Snyder, Abstract Art at Red Hook Coffee and Tea
Red Hook Coffee and Tea has become an art destination as part of the art gallery crawl on 4th Street. Located at 765 South 4th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19147, the quaint coffee and tea cafe situated among the old shops known as Fabric Row has consistently displayed outstanding work by local artists. Photographer David Swift had a solo show there, Barb Gesshel also had a one person show and recently Rick Wright‘s photography students had an outstanding group show. The recent show of abstract acrylic paintings by artist Julianne Snyder continues the tradition of introducing exciting talent and intriguing artwork. I had the opportunity to talk with Julianne Snyder about her art at the artist reception held at Red Hook Coffee and Tea on a cold Winter’s evening in late February.
Julianne Snyder is super-busy exhibiting her art all over town; Red Hook Coffee and Tea, Viva Video, 16 West Lancaster Ave, Ardmore and Good Karma Cafe, 2319 Walnut Street, Philadelphia. With her friends and family gathered to celebrate her art opening I had to opportunity to ask Julianne Snyder what she means when she calls her paintings ‘abstract art’?
“I just want to get as much out there as possible. I think it’s different for everybody but my work is very emotion based and intuitive. I usually don’t try to plan, I just work from what I am feeling at that particular time. But there are certain colors that I gravitate towards, so, it depends. I went to a gallery yesterday, I won’t say the name, but it didn’t seem like there was a whole lot of thought put into it in some of the pieces. And I don’t understand how people can do that and feel proud about it – not to sound like a dick. But it’s true! Maybe it’s because me, personally, I’m so invested in my work, there’s a lot of emotion there, I don’t understand when people produce a lot of work and there doesn’t seem to be a lot behind it.”
How long does it take you to finish a painting?
“It depends. Here and there I will have pieces where I will do the background of one in a session and then I’ll wait a couple days or a week and then take the next step and that will be it. And then there are some that are hanging around for months and months while I slowly work it up, re-work it or sometimes paint over it. One of my favorite pieces was an eight month-er. It’s like, I hated it, but I refused to give up on it until I got it to a point that I was really satisfied and really liked it.”
I know it’s a tough question because abstract art is now everywhere. It’s in advertising and media and the public has become used to it now. How would you say you differentiate your art from what people are seeing in mass media?
“Yeah, there is a lot. I definitely think there has been a lot more in terms of understanding and acceptance. I think there still is a certain group of people that kind of look down on it because it’s not something that’s easily recognizable. They’re like, ‘Oh, I can do that.’ Well, do it then!”
Who are you influenced by?
“Honestly, there are certain painters I really love like Maurice Shapiro. The whole reason I started paintings abstracts, though, was because of my teacher in college who is an artist, Larry Spaid, a Vietnam Vet. And he has shown work all over the place, in collections, and I honestly think I wouldn’t have become an abstract artist if it wasn’t for him.”
I was thinking you may have been influenced by the fifties artists like Helen Frankenthaler or Jackson Pollack. Were you influenced by that era?
“I really like Gerhard Richter, I love him. Looking at his shit it makes me feel sane. Like, ‘OK, I feel a lot better about what I’m doing.’ I think it’s really awesome to see an artist’s progress. I remember looking at collections of his work and I was really impressed, I loved seeing the transitions and there’s another abstract artist, Cody Hooper, I fucking love the texture, I love the light. I think those are my two favorite abstract artists.”
Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you want to say?
“Honestly, this is my first in person interview, I’m kind of put on the spot and a little nervous.”
Aw, don’t be. It’s just me.
“I know, I know, it’s just like flashbacks of being in front of the class when you’re in third grade. I had to defend my art sometimes in school but one of the great things about art is that there is no wrong. No matter what you’re doing, if you’re doing something, that’s progress. You’re learning about yourself and your capabilities and what works and what doesn’t work. I think art can be a metaphor for life.”
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Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.
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