Lisa N. Peters
Of the more than 130 international exhibitors at the Fifteenth Annual Los Angeles Art Show, on view January 20-24, 2010, Spanierman Modern’s exhibition of the dynamic abstract paintings of Charlotte Park was one of few displays that caught the eye of Christopher Knight, art critic for the Los Angeles Times. In a blog post on January 22, Knight described the quality of the fair as “disappointingly low,” but noted that “if you poke around you can find some things to like.” Of the five examples Knight gave, four were individual works: an abstraction from 1968 by Robert Mangold’, an installation by Meeson Pae Yang, a video by Pablo Uribe from “guest country” Uruguay, and a painting by Henrietta Shore. The only exhibition mentioned by Knight was that of Park of whom he wrote:
Charlotte Park (b. 1918), a little-known Abstract Expressionist painter from New York, has been enjoying a resurgence of interest in her works of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. A large selection of muscular, often chromatically brilliant paintings on canvas and paper show why. (Spanierman Modern)
From the mid- and into the late twentieth century, action painting was viewed as masculine. Those women who created this type of painting, such as Park, were often sidelined and overlooked by the chroniclers of the era, reflecting a time when men simply did not believe women could be true artists. With the work of women painters of the era increasingly receiving attention, their contribution to the Abstract Expressionist movement is finally being acknowledged, not only enabling a rediscovery of their work, but also providing pieces crucial to an understanding of the movement’s full significance.
Knight’s attention to Park’s work reflects the way that this awareness has opened up new ways of seeing a time frequently referred to as “the best and most golden in American art history.”