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Between Heaven and Earth: The Paintings of Martha Mayer Erlebacher

February 10 - April 30, 2006


(above: Martha Mayer Erlebacher, Vanitas, 2001, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches. Courtesy of Forum Gallery, New York. © Martha Mayer Erlebacher)


The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona's latest exhibition celebrates the work of ultra-realistic painter, Martha Mayer Erlebacher. (right: Martha Mayer Erlebacher, Back III (Joshua), 2002, oil on canvas, 44 x 38 inches. Courtesy of Forum Gallery, New York. © Martha Mayer Erlebacher)

A native of Pennsylvania, Erlebacher is a renowned realist painter in the tradition of Renaissance and Baroque artists. Her exhibition, Between Heaven and Earth: The Paintings of Martha Mayer Erlebacher, features 25 of the artist's incredible figurative and still life paintings. The exhibition will be on view February 10 through April 30, 2006.

In her expansive and prolific artistic career, Erlebacher has sought to connect her art to what is lasting and timeless. The artist approaches nature and the human figure through carefully orchestrated neo-classical compositions and mythological narratives that connect her to the Western cultural tradition. In fact, her extensive background in anatomy, historical painting techniques, and her unique and powerful visual vocabulary places her among some of the most powerful contemporary Baroque Realist artists in Western art.

Since the 1970s, Erlebacher has painted fruit, eggs, pots, vases, and a variety of other objects in a realistic style, as well as painting Renaissance-like figures, primarily portraits and the female nude. Her oil paintings feature warm colors and her drawings subtle changes of value.

"For Martha Erlebacher, art is a means to tell a story, to represent clear primordial human elements such as birth, death, sin, sex, the passage of time, etc.," said Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art Fine Arts Curator, Dr. Graziella Marchicelli. "The action in her paintings, as explained by the artist, occurs 'in a time that is cyclical, rather than linear, because of the universality and repetition of human experience.' The visual power and symbolism of Martha Mayer Erlebacher is such that the viewer will take those feelings with them long after the exhibition has closed."

Erlebacher has an extensive teaching background, and currently serves as Chairperson of the faculty at the New York Academy of Art in Manhattan. She attended Gettysburg College, and earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. She has received several fellowships and foundation grants, and was bestowed with the Outstanding Teacher Award in Oil from American Artist magazine in 1996. Her work has been shown extensively throughout New York City and the United States, including recent solo exhibitions at Seraphin Gallery in Philadelphia, Forum Gallery in New York City, and Hackett-Freedman Gallery in San Francisco. Her work is included in numerous private and public collections. (right: Martha Mayer Erlebacher, Three Cats at Dusk, 2002-03, oil on canvas, 74 x 80 inches. Courtesy of Forum Gallery, New York. © Martha Mayer Erlebacher)

Also on view at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona' is the exhibition, Familiar Faces: Photographs by Sallie Zoerb. The exhibition features 25 color photographs by Zoerb, a Somerset county artist whose focus is the portrait. Her images are not traditional, straightforward representations of people and animals, but rather psychological explorations of the subject.

The Museum will hold an opening reception with the artists on Thursday, February 16, 2006. Fee. Reservations are required by February 14 and can be made by calling the Museum at (814) 946-4464. The reception is being sponsored by Fusco-Riley Financial.

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