Sean Carney, Artists' House Gallery

Sean CarneyThe Streets Where We Live, Artists’ House Gallery, Philadelphia Museum of Art, carved, stained wood panel

Sean CarneyThe Streets Where We Live, Artists’ House Gallery

Artists’ House Gallery  continues their tradition of exhibiting Philadelphia’s contemporary fine art with an outstanding group show of Philadelphia themed landscapes. Artist Sean Carney‘s stained wood panels depict iconic Philadelphia scenes by carving the surface, using the wood grain and even gashing into the finish to create highlights. The group of panels read as paintings but as you look closer the texture from gouging, whittling and carving becomes apparent, it’s one of those magical moments when an artwork flips from one thing into another.

“I’m really a portrait painter. But lately my thing is architecture. I’ll paint what anybody wants. I like to be accommodating with things in life, in general. But, I like working with different materials, I like new things. This is all wood staining on pine and I use a Dremel to carve out the highlights, it’s fun. And I like shopping at Home Depot for my art supplies. They are fairly reasonable for prices”

Sean Carney, Artists' House Gallery

Sean CarneyThe Streets Where We Live, Artists’ House GalleryCopley Square, carved, stained wood panel

“As you know as an artist, art supplies are a killer. So I use whatever I can get my hands on. I do watercolors, too. Being a teacher I think it makes me more well rounded. Because I have to teach the kids how to work with oil, acrylic, watercolor, gouache. And the sometimes we’ll paint with coffee. tea or wood stains. With public education you have a budget and you want to try and get the most out of it. So sometimes I tell the kids I’m going to make a strong pot of coffee and we’re going to do watercolor tomorrow. And they like that.

We tried hot sauce once, that did not work well. But I figured I’ll give it a shot. I’ve taught high school for fifteen years now, in Lawrenceville, just outside of Princeton.”

My high school art teachers really set me on my path.

“You know, one of my students, he graduated and went to an art school in Massachusetts called Monserrat on the coast by Salem. And he sent me a message saying, ‘Check out my website.’ And in the website he didn’t mention any of his college professors but it said I was his inspiration. I felt like, ‘Wow!’ I like to comfort my kids, all my kids. Montserrat is very competitive, I worked with SVA for a while and it was very serious, but Montserrat is an embracing community and you can talk about your work. I’m not competitive. If I’m around other artists I’m like, ‘Come on, we can do a show together.”

Sean Carney, Artists' House Gallery

Sean CarneyThe Streets Where We Live, Artists’ House GalleryUnion League, carved, stained wood panel

“If someone buys a painting from someone else I feel like, ‘Good for them.’ I’m not really competing, I just like to paint.”

I’m still friends with my high school art teacher, Ross Beitzel.

“That’s what I hope, I hope that I’m that kind of teacher that can make the kids feel good about their work. I tell them it’s like a sport. If you practice, you’ll get better. It’s not a talent. I’ve seen people go from they can’t draw to they can. It’s definitely possible, its a great job. And then now, it’s only been about a year, I decided to come up with a business plan. I want to show outside of the country, I wanted to get into a gallery in a major city and so far things have happened. Because I consider Philadelphia a major city. And Tony has been wonderful to let me in here. I’m having a show in Toronto in November. I’ve had eighteen shows so far this year so it’s been a good year.

But it’s like some days I paint or some days just go to all the galleries. I look to see which galleries might like my work or I do a lot of juried shows. I enter my work and sometimes you get in and sometimes you don’t.  If I try for ten maybe I’ll get into six or four, it’s all the law of averages.”

PhiladelphiaThe Streets Where We Live at Artists’ House Gallery57 N 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106 through October 31. Featuring the works of Mark Campana, William Cantwell, Sean Carney, Logan Speirs, Jim Lerro. Christine Donahower, Kevin Cummins, Mat Tomezsko and Scott Jackson

Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.

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