Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art exhibit in Altoona “Intersections: color, form and geometric abstraction, Patrick Schmidt 2004-2022” is a colorful feast for the senses.
The Pittsburgh artist transformed the museum‘s Shirley and Fred A. Pechter Gallery and Paul E. Detwiler Education Center using a variety of materials and methods to take the visitor on a progressive journey.
From the glass entry windows filled with vibrant colored lines, geometric shapes and patterns, to the three-dimensional hanging banners and curtains, Schmidt blurs the line between traditional canvas art and sculpture. His creativity is not limited to traditional hanging canvases, but splashes and overflows from the glass entrance windows to the gallery walls and floors and the space in between with hanging banners and a piece titled “Curtain,” which cuts the Pechter gallery in two.
For “Curtain,” the artist drew inspiration from fabric patterns around the world and old paint sample books, he said. Strips are created from canvas or fabric cut into strips 6 inches wide and hung 5 feet long, with abstract designs painted in acrylics.
The banners hanging nearby were inspired by motifs from around the world, from Islam, indigenous cultures and even Cold War-era Eastern Bloc propaganda.
The exhibit, on view until September 18, is unlike anything undertaken before, said site manager Hannah Harley. Schmidt has created an abstract playground filled with vibrant colors and textures that resonate and reverberate through the galleries as his architecture interacts and accentuates his designs.
SAMA summer intern Vic McElheny and Visitor Services Coordinator Zinnia Heidler assisted Schmidt in the two-day installation.
In the hallway between the two galleries, Schmidt painted a colorful mural as a transition between the front and rear galleries.
The line mural is a physical, symbolic and metaphorical transition from his early exploits and explorations of the interplay between color, shades and patterns to more recent works that combine his love of computer graphics with music. The titles of the works refer to a song lyric or song title and refer to something in the painting itself, he said.
“I used elements of old work to produce new work,” Schmidt explained. As his techniques have evolved, so has Schmidt’s approach to these interactive and transformative exhibits. Previous installations found him arriving in a gallery with detailed drawings, but he found the architecture of each space to pose anticipated challenges. While he is still preparing an installation from photos in the gallery, he adapts and changes as he works to create a more fluid and intuitive — and one-of-a-kind — installation.
In the Pechter gallery, for example, a work on the floor entitled “100 squares” contains 100 canvases. Each 12 inch square canvas was first painted in flat acrylic paint, blotted with additional colors. Schmidt then handcrafted two different plastic stencils which he layered. Although the process of creating each square is the same, the interplay and interchange of colors and stencils makes each square unique – no two squares are the same.
“The pieces can be exhibited in different ways. Once I started, I’ve changed color combinations about five times since I arrived. There is no definitive way to display it”, he said. The piece and its challenge provided him with a deeper understanding of color, he said. It is this continuous exploration of the complex relationship between colors, shapes and patterns that unites the exhibition.
Michael M. Strueber, Director Emeritus of SAMA, said in a press release: “This exhibition is one of the best contemporary exhibitions ever organized by SAMA. His mural is exceptional and his work is optimistic, colorful and a joy to experience…this is an exhibition not to be missed!
“Patrick Schmidt’s brilliantly colored pieces reflect his adoration for music, with rhythmic and bold colors and abstract patterns.” Harley said in the release. “His interpretation and understanding of color – reinforced by the idea that there really is no right way to interpret or understand color – allowed him to beautifully convey the relationship between color, form and pattern, and conclude that color is really what we make of it.”
“Color is inherently timeless”according to Schmidt, who is an art professor at Washington & Jefferson College. Schmidt’s research is also based on the wonderfully simple idea that color and pattern possess a unique power to define us and speak to (viewers’) biases. Color, patterns and geometric shapes have been a driving force throughout an illustrious career, and Schmidt has developed a unique blend of digital art with stencils to create a powerful balance between chaos and harmony, experts said. officials in a statement.
Throughout his elementary school years, Schmidt, already passionate about drawing and creating, discovered a deep passion for music. However, it was a drawing class during her first semester in college that brought her attention back to the power of the visual arts. Despite his self-proclaimed “epiphany” and his transition to artistic studies, he studied music closely, and this became a big influence in his pursuit of a career as an artist.