M. Pia De Girolamo at the Pyramid Club

M. Pia De Girolamo,  Autumn Field (L), City Park (R), acrylic, at the Pyramid Club, photograph by Neroni Photography

M. Pia De Girolamo at the Pyramid Club

The Pyramid Club sits high on top of the Mellon Tower at 17th and Market Streets on the 52nd floor, it’s iconic pyramid was lit up in pastel color. The club is hosting the artwork of M. Pia De Girolamo, the bold, abstract paintings with naturalistic elements fill the hallways outside of the dining room and bar creating a distinctly urban vibe. David Rocco of David Rocco Gallery, the artist’s representative gallery, describes Pia’s paintings, “There’s a magnetism there, something comes though in every piece,” The term ‘magnetic’ is apropos with hints of the natural world swirled into abstract marks and broads strokes of paint. Some of the paintings are painted thickly with high contrast colors, others are thinly painted, almost like watercolor, with elements of Autumn fields, far away cities or dreamy thought experiments.

The paintings are lined up shoulder to shoulder, propped on antique tables and arranged near planters illuminating the chic contemporary space with color mood and magnetism. With the space high above the city and away from street life, the art takes on a life of it’s own, each panel communicates the artist’s color theory, expounds on her style and exudes the allure of culture and authenticity that Philadelphia’s art scene is recognized for around the world. The Pyramid Club is like no other art destination in the city and you are welcome to visit the show even if you are not a member of the club, the exhibit is on display through December 10th. I recommend you take your out of town friends to the top of the tower over the holiday weekend and give them a taste of what Philadelphia style is all about.

Pyramid Club is a private business club strategically placed 52 floors high at the “top of the town,” above Center City in Philadelphia. The Club specializes in outstanding cuisine, personalized service, superb meeting and dining facilities,  and state-of-the-art technology.” – Pyramid Club website

M. Pia De Girolamo at the Pyramid Club

M. Pia De Girolamo at the Pyramid Clubphotograph by Neroni Photography

“My paintings and drawings move! They can be marked by charging lines and swirling colors that telegraph a sense of restlessness and disquiet, or alternatively, elation and uplift. Sometimes, the colors are muted and the lines slow; a sense of space overtakes the lines and forms, imparting a meditative quality.

I regularly turn to natural and man-made environments experienced at home and abroad and use them to express an emotional or spiritual response. I start with a big definitive gesture, perhaps a calligraphic sweep of black paint or large fields of color, and then layer on and scrape off paint as I go along. The process is both spontaneous and analytical and results in the surprises and discoveries that mark any inward or outward journey of exploration.” – M. Pia De Girolamo artist statement

M. Pia De Girolamo at the Pyramid ClubM. Pia De Girolamo at the Pyramid Club, photograph by Neroni Photography

“The paintings of New York City born M. Pia De Girolamo are full of movement, restless charging lines and swirling colors that uplift. They are visual expressions of her spiritual response to her surroundings.” – David Rocco Gallery website

Pia and DoN chatted about her work and she also gave an impromptu artist talk which answered many of the questions guests had at the grand opening of her one person art show on November 13th. I asked the artist how she found out about the exciting venue in one of Philadelphia’s iconic high rise towers?

“The gallery that represents me, David Rocco Gallery’s owner, David Rocco is a member here and the manager of the club Debra Lynn Ambrose and he discussed having a show in this venue. So they put the idea together and asked me and I said, ‘Yeah! Great! That sounds good.'”

How did you decide which works to include?

“I worked with David, he had a lot of the work in the gallery already and I had some other pieces at home and it’s a combination of those. We also showed at the Capital One Cafe about a month ago that was a lot of fun, too.”

David Rocco joined in the conversation.

“They are ecstatic here, I mean Ben Baskin, General Manager of the Pyramid Club is as happy as can be and Debra Lynn, the members director, is happy and pleased. But I did it because it was easy for me.”

Pia interjected that David did a lot of hard work to make the show happen for her.

“At least I wasn’t here until 5:00 installing!”, he laughed.

M. Pia De Girolamo at the Pyramid Club

M. Pia De Girolamo,  Through a Doorway, acrylic and mixed media, at the Pyramid Club, photograph by Neroni Photography

“When I’m painting, one of the key things that I try to put into the painting is that element of emotion. If you want to call it expression, and use the term ‘abstract expression’ I suppose, but the one thing that I would like to come out of the piece is that emotion that will ultimately connect it with the other person. When David says magnetism that’s what he’s referring to. What he means by that is the attraction that somebody feels. That’s how some people describe them to him and to me, that they feel something, a good thing, generally, when they look at the piece. Which is nice.”

But what are you feeling when you’re painting?

“You know? It’s interesting, I think my paintings fall into two categories. One is inspired by elements of Nature and travel and the feelings I have. Often you’ll see that in the titles, which often come after. And then there are other paintings which the starting point is an emotion or something I may be going through or thinking about. Where I may start with mark-making, there is that overlay of emotion of the issue that’s going on in life, or a person that I intuitively let infuse into the painting. That’s the part that is difficult to describe. These paintings are acrylics but you will see some with mixed media.

I kind of went through a period of being very concerned about throwing stuff out. Especially, I was doing mono-prints and I would cut papers, I would have little pieces of artwork left. And I would be accumulating these things and at one point I wanted to put more texture into the paintings, and, you know, I was accumulating these bits of the things that i didn’t want to throw out. So some of these paintings you’ll see have that mixed media quality, recycled art. It was great, because it was a fun way to bring texture in. I like to get a little bit of that tactile feel in many of the paintings.”

M. Pia De Girolamo at the Pyramid Club

M. Pia De GirolamoFreestyle, acrylic, at the Pyramid Clubphotograph courtesy of the artist.

Pia gave an impromptu speech to her gathered guests and friends.

“I want to thank Debra for making this venue available, it’s beautiful. And thank you to David Rocco of David Rocco Gallery for arranging this show in such a beautiful way. Thank you very much, and thank you all for coming, I really, really appreciate it very much. I’ll start off by addressing some questions that people have asked me about the art.

One of the first questions is – where do your ideas come from? What is your art about? And what I tell people is one is from Nature, even though these are very abstract works and the jumping off point may be a place I’ve visited or my backyard. Some of these places can refer to Venice, for example, which I love and have been to many times. Some of them could be my backyard in the Spring or the Fall. You’ll see that the titles are reflective of that. ‘Autumn Field’, for example, would be late Autumn when everything is kind of quiet and bare and not so much color. Nature is one of the things that informs the paintings.”

M. Pia De Girolamo at the Pyramid Club

M. Pia De GirolamoBoating Down the Canale Silone, acrylic, at the Pyramid Clubphotograph courtesy of the artist

“The other thing would be things that are happening in my life. Some of those may not be obvious, and they’re not meant necessarily to be obvious, it could be a troubling time. People in my life that are going through something and one of the ways that I process that is by putting it into my art. So, there may be some sadder jumping off points here but they are transformed into something beautiful or creative. They may have been starting as something that perhaps was not so joyful and may have been sad. Those are the two inspirations or places that my art comes from.”

M. Pia De Girolamo at the Pyramid Club

M. Pia De Girolamo, Landscape of the Heart, acrylic, at the Pyramid Clubphotograph courtesy of the artist

“Another question I’m asked is how do you go about making this kind of painting? Because, of course, traditional painting is representational and you may try to draw from life or paint from life and make it look like we think it looks like. And these don’t. So, how do you arrive at that point? Basically the way I paint is that it’s something I’ve practiced over a long period of time and the painting gets looser and looser. But, it starts out often with just marks and I don’t necessarily have a picture in my head, I usually don’t have a picture in my head. I have a need or a feeling, I may have come back from a great place or looking out in the back yard. But I will start with just very intuitive marks, it’s fun to make marks. Why do I do this? Because, it feels great. It’s fun! I really enjoy it, I feel joyous when I make these painitngs. And I hope that’s one of the things that these paintings transmits, is that joy or that emotion. That’s why I make them.

When I’m making these marks I’m conscious that it’s pleasing, it’s fun, it feels good. And so I will intuitively add color on color, mark on mark. I may draw something in realistic, an animal, a person, and then it get’s abstracted, it becomes part of something larger.

Another question people ask is why are some big and why are some small? Why do you choose those sizes? A lot of the paintings are the size of me, you know? It’s like, what I can carry. It was very practical but it’s what I feel comfortable with. Although sometimes when I’ve been painting very big for a while, I get tired. I’m like, ‘OK, let’s do some smaller paintings.’ It’s a little easier. But recently I’ve decided I have to work really big just for the heck of it and now I’m doing some six feet by five feet. I paint in acrylics, originally I painted in oils, but I like acrylic paints because they are quick drying and I tend to work very fast, putting down brush strokes and colors very quickly. I like to see the result, get it to dry and it happens pretty immediately. I went through a recycling phase where I was using mixed media where I was using little pieces of papers, packing papers and mono-prints, using bits of the paper, chop them up, put them in my shredder, put them in the blender and mix it up with media and sculpt with the medium. And that’s something else you see in these paintings. I think that’s an over view of the work.”

M. Pia De Girolamo at the Pyramid Club

M. Pia De GirolamoCity Park, acrylic, at the Pyramid Club, photograph courtesy of the artist

Debra Lynn Ambrose, Director of Member Relations said,

“When I first started with the club, one of the first members I mer was with David Rocco and found out that he owns an art gallery. Now when I first started here I thought, ‘We need to have an art show here.’ So, the first member I met was David Rocco, it was kismet. A few weeks ago he invited me to an art show for Pia at another location. So, I went to that and I fell in love with her work and i fell in love with her, she’s so charming, I absolutely loved her. And David said, ‘This is who I would like to have show at your club’, and we just made it happen. I am so thrilled and so proud to have her here, I think it really came out wonderfully.

Pyramid Club is a private club basically for businesses and business people and they can come and use our facilities for meetings, for Center City work space for those who travel a lot, there’s a lot of networking that goes on here. We do have some events for our members that are just for fun, Salsa dancing and such, we also have dining and private events. Lots of weddings are held here that are absolutely beautiful.”

This is a great space for art to be seen by an influential group of people.

“Absolutely! These are the movers and shakers of Philadelphia that come here. It’s exciting to have them see Pia’s art and representing the club so well. It’s been a wonderful evening…I’m hoping we can bring a lot more art here, and music, and going to theater and maybe even bringing some of it here, it’s all a creative process.”

M. Pia De Girolamo at the Pyramid Club

M. Pia De GirolamoBoat and Door, acrylic and mixed media, at the Pyramid Clubphotograph by Neroni Photography

 “My interest has always been the beauty which lies in the basic elements of design.  From the lines of a well crafted vintage automobile, to the beauty  found in human anatomy.  For the past 30 years my pursuit  has been to bring out the emotions in images of people, places or things.  Providing a myriad of creative, innovative solutions for my clients.” – Neroni Photography

Written by DoN Brewer except where noted. Thank you to M. Pia De Girolamo  and Neroni Photography for providing images for this post.

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