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Scenic Route at Paradigm Gallery


Scenic Route Artists: Jason Andrew Turner, Erin M. Riley, Amze Emmons and Alex Eckman-Lawn


I have often scoffed at landscapes – mainly because I feel many lack the symmetry or poetry I’m looking for. I want to be pulled in by the obvious and made to see something new.  I can be accused of doing what I like to call an art room drive by, coasting through a landscape exhibit with a ‘seen that before’ attitude.  There have been the ‘sneakers’ – the ones that crept up on me, affixing me to one spot staring endlessly at the canvas. I’m speaking of the Wyeth, and Ulf Puders’ of the art world – but these are decidedly the Master’s and even I couldn’t expect anything less then accredited awe.

Philadelphia based Paradigm Gallery is currently showing Scenic Route – contemporary landscape seen through the eyes of four different artists in unconventional ways that invite willing viewers to immerse themselves in a new world and explore – and it’s ballsy. Rarely, from artists so young does one find a yearning to flip the landscape and make you the storyteller. Scenic Route makes waves, sometimes throwing you into the deep end – for instance, the artist Jason Andrew Turner requires that you create the landscape out of his shapes, spaces and colors.

Turner’s landscapes garnered some attention this past year when an album cover he designed for the Philadelphia based band Cassavetes was picked as part of Redefine Mags“best album covers of 2014”.  I thought it was aesthetically pleasing and not much else until I read the interview that accompanied the piece … “I have been making a series of these landscapes since about 2000. I view them as static scenes not tied to a moment/time or when/where, as if everything is happening all at once. Each line can be viewed as a heartbeat, a step, or weeks and years. I like to get a little obsessive and to hide a great deal of information in each gestural line, like a code that’s only broken by the viewer’s participation with the work as a whole, akin to decoding a treasure map without a key. I assign the blocks of colors as overarching events that have a resounding importance to the location at hand, and what eventually shapes the narrative of the space. Ultimately, I don’t want to drive a distinct storyline; I prefer the viewer to find it in themselves.”

Reading that was my ‘mind blown’ moment.  The possibility of new discovery, coupled with a desire to drive my own narrative lured me in.  Not all art is easily defined. I’m not suggesting that the viewer should walk into this show assuming that what they see will resemble landscapes. Your interaction with the artists challenges to change how you perceive visible features of an area or a particular place will get you talking and thinking – things we do far too little of in the gallery.

I’ve seen Scenic Route a few times now, preferring to wait for early gallery hours so I could view the pieces alone.  On one particular visit, there was kid staring Erin M. Riley woven series of highway scenes, My Portrait of a Father.  He stood in front of her work for more than twenty minutes, making a connection, getting choked up remembering a friend he lost in a terrible car accident. That’s the poetry I’m talking about – evoking and touching with a mere scene.  Riley’s work in this show has a rhythm so very different from her provocative Instagram nudes we’re used to seeing.  Here she shows us images of crosses and flowers memorializing the destruction of pain and loss along long stretches of highway.

Alex Eckman-Lawn and Amze Emmons provide the most straight forward concepts of landscapes. Eckman-Lawn’s layered cutouts are peppered with loneliness and fear.  It’s not hard to see the painstaking care and finesse layered in his pieces – haunting eyes, and dense imagery are reoccurring themes. The layers, so exacting in trying to maintain a compulsive control over chaotic worlds.  Emmons, whose work I was unfamiliar with until the show, builds his playful landscapes on what he calls the “over-arching politics of architecture with images that have a sense of magical/minimal realism that is inspired by illustration, comic books, cartoon language, street art, information graphics, news footage, consumer packaging, instructional manuals.” 

Make sure you see this show of unconventional imagined landscapes where the artists woo with the first unseen navigation through interlacing imagined stories that exist within shape and form – but write themselves in your imagination.  Scenic Route is up until May 16th, 2015.

Paradigm Gallery + Studio presents Scenic Route
An exhibition of Contemporary landscape through the eyes of four different artists.
March 27, 2015 – May 16, 2015



Studying the work of Erin M. Riley.


Opening night crowd.


Checking out the landscapes of Amze Emmons.


Sideways glancing at the Alex Eckman-Lawn worlds.


Philly artist, Kelly Kozma checking out Amze Emmons.



IG’ing that Jason Andrew Turner piece.



Artists, Ryan Beck and Erin M. Riley discussing the show.


3 Responses to “Scenic Route at Paradigm Gallery”
  1. Thank you !! @erinmriley @farout_panchov @alexeckmanlawn @Chimpamze

  2. a rose between the thorns

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