Stephanie Washburn’s “Twice Told” at Mark Moore Gallery

In “Twice Told,” Stephanie Washburn’s inaugural solo show at Mark Moore Gallery, Washburn creates a distinct and unusual medium through a combination of many.  Mixing paint, digital media, and everyday three-dimensional items, she creates the surface for and subject of her photographs.

In her “Reception” series, Washburn makes what she calls “television drawings” based off of her intervention and reinterpretation of pop culture images that act as a backdrop of her colorful photography. - Ellen C. Caldwell

Stephanie Washburn, Reception 5, 2011 | digital c-print | Edition of 3 + 2 AP | 30 x 30 inches
Courtesy of Mark Moore Gallery

Stephanie Washburn, Reception 3, 2011 | digital c-print | Edition of 3 + 2 AP | 30 x 40 inches
Courtesy of Mark Moore Gallery

I really loved the intimate nook created in Washburn’s offset room at Mark Moore. Immediately, color groupings stood out with two of the larger pieces emanating a bright, warm orange and red hue.  This was balanced out and put in contrast by smaller pieces comprised of  lighter blues and muted greens, that recall the exact aqua hue one sees humming from the windows of houses at night as people sit back in a dark living room, watching TV.

“Reception 3” is one of Washburn’s showcase pieces, comprised of warm oranges and featuring distinct petals that turn into indistinct paint amidst a fiery television background.  I found this piece to be at once beautiful and violent – an unbalanced and at-odds combination I loved.  Although the young flower petals signified a certain life or luster, there was also the hint of destruction and aging from the torn or fallen petals that then sat on the fiery backdrop.

Stephanie Washburn, Reception 4, 2011 | digital c-print | Edition of 3 + 2 AP | 40 x 30 inches
Courtesy of Mark Moore Gallery

The distinctive blues I discussed earlier were definitely found in “Reception 4,” wherein Washburn tenuously captures delicate papers, plastics, or tissues above the television’s surface.

There was a trio of photographs featuring feathers and other household items, calling to mind images of jellyfish and clouds.  At certain points, Washburn mimicked lines from the television images with lines from the household items and her painted surfaces, again invoking this at-odds feeling: the media used to comprise the photograph both recreated and distracted from the very form and image it mimicked.

The show kept me grasping to make connections between these familiar iterations and shapes I thought I was perceiving, yet I didn’t actually care if I found them or made them.  Something about the guessing process held me.

Stephanie Washburn, Reception 2, 2010 | digital c-print | 30 x 40 inches
Courtesy of Mark Moore Gallery

Another central piece to the show, “Reception 2,” was predominantly a dark orange and red, comprised of frantic overlays of squiggled paint and goo, as if capturing the momentum with which it was created and encapsulating the very messiness of abstraction.

Washburn’s “Twice Told” Installation image at Mark Moore Gallery
Courtesy of Mark Moore Gallery

Another trio of images on the back wall featured a loose iteration of things: falling items, gloves, and some sort of scenic scape.  With this photography show, Washburn (whose paintings I have discussed before), blurs the lines of photography and painting.  Yet both her paintings and her photography are equally conceptual, tangible and very much hangable.

Stephanie Washburn, Reception 9, 2011 | digital c-print | Edition of 3 + 2 AP | 15 x 15 inches
Courtesy of Mark Moore Gallery


Stephanie Washburn’s inaugural solo show “Twice Told” runs at Mark Moore Gallery through May 19th.  Washburn received her MFA from the University of California, Santa Barbara and she currently lives and works between Ojai and LA.

Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, editor, and writer.

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