Sailing on the Sea of Psyche , 1967, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 60 in.

Sailing on the Sea of Psyche, 1967, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 60 in.

Sally Cook // City of Dreams

Exhibition on view: May 31 – August 2, 2019
Opening Reception: Friday May 31, 5 – 9pm | The artist will be present
Closing Reception: Friday August 2, 5-9pm as part of Allentown First Friday Gallery Walk
Eleven Twenty Projects: 1120 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14209 

Buffalo, NY - Eleven Twenty Projects is pleased to announce a special exhibition City of Dreams - a selection of paintings by Buffalo born artist Sally Cook. This show marks a re-emergence of sorts for Cook, a prolific artist with a diverse and iconoclastic painterly language. Known primarily for her unique magic realist still lifes and portraits, this exhibition, her first in nearly 10 years, will explore early Abstract Expressionist and Hard Edge Geometric works from her halcyon days spent as part of New York City’s seminal 10th Street Collective.

Cook’s paintings are heavily rooted in a deep understanding of color and texture and despite a wide diversity between the three styles of painting, formal connections are clearly apparent. Cook has, throughout her career, emphasized a lively interaction of colors as well as a complex sense of pattern and repetition. At the same time, Cook has never been constrained by the imperatives of any particular style, even while painting within that style. As she says, “I want to use everything -- all color and all form -- bending it to my idea of what a painting should be”.

Where her Abstract Expressionist works are light and ethereal, Cook’s geometric pieces are emphatic in their treatment of the hard line and employ a rigid, specific color palette. Interestingly, elements seen in these first two genres are also apparent in the markedly different magic realism paintings.  These later works are fantastical dreamscapes containing multiple areas of geometric patterning combined with a singular faux primitive treatment of the subjects in her paintings.  The formal devices Cook refined in earlier works are omnipresent in the magic realism paintings, with the added element of quixotic, narrative self-portraits.

The later paintings also coyly comment on the artist's lineage of paintings by including uncanny re-painted depictions of earlier works into a new scene. Early Abstractions and geometrics make appearances hanging on the imagined walls of Cook’s self-portraits.  It is a testament that none of these three styles of work solely define her artistic ambitions, rather, they are a shared sphere of expressing the intentions of a creative mind.  Consistent in her perpetual search for beauty, Cook’s paintings are not restricted to specific ideas or relegated to singular paths.  She has been wholly adventurous and exploratory in her search for the beautiful, incorporating literary, poetic and musical influences into her paintings.

Sally Cook is a painter and poet who was born in Buffalo, NY, and raised in Evans, NY.  She and her husband, political cartoonist Bob Fisk now live in Silver Creek, NY.

After high school in Angola NY, Cook was a scholarship student at the Albright Art School in Buffalo, where she studied visual art with notable painters Peter Busa and Seymour Drumlevitch.   In the late 1950s at Busa’s encouragement, Cook moved to New York City, where she became an active participant in the historic Tenth Street Co-operative.  During this period she was a member of the Camino, Phoenix, and Feiner galleries, having solo shows at each, and her early Abstract Expressionist works were exhibited along with those of Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Alice Neel, and Ted Joans, amongst others.  Cook was elected to membership in the prestigious Artist's Club, a group formed by Hans Hoffman, Kline, de Kooning, and other artists for the purpose of exchanging ideas and inspiring new work by its members. Around 1960, she gave two artist talks at the club and a third at the Camino.

Cook’s New York years saw her style evolve from Abstract Expressionism to geometric abstraction.  After thoroughly exploring these fields, and left feeling confined by the stylistic limitations of being part of the New York scene, Cook’s work evolved into a personal style all her own.  It is best defined as Magic Realism, but with the added elements of a unique faux primitive style.  Upon returning to Buffalo, Cook earned an MA in American Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1971. She and her husband, political cartoonist Bob Fisk, became active in the city’s thriving art scene centered in the Allentown neighborhood where they lived throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Cook’s career as a poet has seen her earn a Wilbur Fellowship and five nominations for a Pushcart Prize. She is a regular contributor to National Review, and has been published in Chronicles, Lighten Up On Line, and Trinacria, among others. Her own chapbooks include Making Music (2012, White Violet Press) and The View From Here (2014, Kelsay Books). Her artwork has been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the U.S. and Canada and is included in the permanent collections of the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, the N.S.D.A.R. Museum in Washington, D.C., and the William H. Littlefield Collection at Harvard University, and numerous private collections.

In 2015, Cook was designated a “Living Legacy” artist by the Burchfield Penney Art Center and her work will be featured in the upcoming History of Painting in WNY at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Fall of 2019.  University of Buffalo Art Galleries will be mounting a retrospective of Cook’s work in February 2020 at the U.B. Center for the Arts.