The Gallery at Penn College, on the third floor of Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Madigan Library, will host “Interwoven Dialogues,” an exhibit of paintings by Florence Putterman, of Selinsgrove, from Oct. 9 to Nov. 4.
An opening reception for the exhibit will take place Tuesday, Oct. 9, from 4:30 to 7 p.m., with a gallery talk scheduled at 5:30 p.m. (The gallery will open at 2 p.m. that day, as scheduled.) Following the opening, gallery hours are Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m.; and Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. All exhibits are free and open to the public.
Putterman’s paintings are timeless. They recall ancient cave paintings in their thick, broad lines and rough textures, yet burst with colors from the modern era. This all resonates into the collective theme: man and his relations to the earth.
“My paintings and works on paper have long explored how to develop a modern visual equivalent to the deeply felt interrelationship of earth and cosmos sacred to primitive cultures,” Putterman said. “I work with thick, broad shapes and strong, vivid colors and sensuous surfaces to create dense, symbol-filled pictures.”
In 1979, Putterman was awarded a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts fellowship to study Indian petroglyphs (rock carvings) and the Anasazi Indian culture. The influence can still be found in her paintings.
“With the grant I lassoed my husband, and we took off for the Four Corners area out West to study the petroglyphs,” she said. “We traveled to all the Indian reservations in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. When I returned home, I proceeded to do some monumental monotypes, prints and paintings relating to the images I explored.”
For about 10 years, she exhibited the petroglyph-inspired works, until she became known as the “petroglyph lady,” and, at about the same time, spending more time in Florida, she became interested in sea life and started works involving living creatures.
“I was torn between my more traditional landscapes, the petroglyphs and the sea life,” Putterman said. “One day a printer friend stopped by, and I mentioned that I was undecided about which way to go, and she said, “You are the artist put it all together.’ I think if you explore my paintings, you will see that I followed her instructions.”
Putterman works in oil paint, acrylic paint, ceramics, sculpture and printmaking. She experiments with materials and colors, and enjoys sharing her work and processes with others. She conveys true stories that are eye-opening and inspirational. While she was pursuing her master’s degree in fine art in the early 1970s, male art teachers questioned why she was in school rather than tending to her home.
Following her graduation, while teaching, she said: “I started pounding the pavements in the cities looking for representation, and every now and then I was successful in finding a gallery to handle my work. It was a difficult time before the women’s movement, and most galleries were not handling women artists or taking them seriously.”
She remained steadfast and motivated, and not only did she earn an NEA grant a few short years later, but her works have also received numerous other awards and accolades, including the Distinguished Alumni Award from Penn State in 1988.
At 80 years old, Putterman is a testament to the true nature of the creative spirit. She works in her studio almost every day and has had more than 100 solo exhibits, as well as countless group exhibits. Her work is included in more than 75 museums and corporate collections. It has been reviewed in ARTNews, and her studio has been featured in American Artist.
Putterman’s exhibit is part of the college’s Current View Artist Series, which showcases contemporary artists working in a variety of media. Sponsored by the college’s media arts department, it provides an opportunity to broaden and enrich the educational experience at Penn College. The Current View Artist Series includes six artists for 2007-08.
On Oct. 29, Putterman will lead an after-school workshop for middle school students (grades six through eight) at The Gallery at Penn College. She will demonstrate her technique using watercolors to create one-of-a-kind prints. Cost for the class is $5 and is limited to 12 students. It takes place from 4-6:15 p.m. To reserve a space, call 320-2400, ext. 7973, before Oct. 15.