The Urban Landscape Artists’ Statements

August 27, 2019

From September 14, 2019 through January 16, 2020, the Lois & Richard England Gallery at Iona is proud to exhibit seven local artists in the show, “The Urban Landscape.”

Read more from the curator and artists below.


Joey Mánlapaz, Curator
Professor, Corcoran at The George Washington University

The seven artists in this exhibition have a lot to tell…stories, memories, imaginations, and experiences. They show a vision of the city or town that touched them deeply and uniquely. No doubt these artists excel in their craft.

Whether abstract or representational, two-dimensional or free-form, each individual artwork transports us into a place where the scent of air is imagined, colors are experienced, and the vibrancy or stillness of the locale serve to inspire.

You can view my portfolio at joeymanlapaz.com.


Linda Button, artist

As a representational artist, I portray the human figure and its avatars in various guises using three distinct presentations.

My oil-on-linen mannequins in their urban abodes honor these human wannabes that are made out of resin, linen, and even chicken wire.

Would-be humans in their window-dressed glass cages are often accompanied by a miscellany of reflected buildings, vehicles, crosswalks, signage, vegetation, and actual people.

My oil paintings on unprimed birch panels use a process akin to staining that emphasizes the grain of the wood. The stained panels often portray faces and urban camouflage.

My third series of paintings—oil collages on panels—“recycle” my unfinished paintings by using the canvas as fabric that I cut into human silhouettes. The collages feature human relationships, congenial and otherwise.

A case can be made that my expat childhood in remote parts of Venezuela is the source of my fascination with the human figure as an art form. Where is everybody? What are they wearing? When can we go to the city again? Lots of solo play with 3-D and paper dolls can yield adult preoccupation with similar concerns! I began painting about twenty years ago after completing a career at the Library of Congress. Having established the foundation that my self-imposed art curriculum required by studying with many excellent artist teachers, I joined a studio suite in Bethesda where I both create and display my paintings.

You can view my portfolio at bartleybutton.com.


Jane M. Coonce, artist

The way light falls on an object has always fascinated me. In paintings, I strive to capture the interesting effect that light plays on the subject. I believe an artists job is to make people notice the things that they see in everyday life but fail to really notice. There is so much subtle beauty in the world, and it is the artists’ job to make people learn how to see it.

I started off as a still life painter. It’s a great way to learn how to see and to paint. A person can see so many more colors from the real objects than one can from a photograph. One can set up a still life, and it’s there waiting for you each time you return. I found that not all people share the love of still life, so I branched out in my art.

I focused on portraiture. I took many classes and workshops and painted a portrait a day until I could do them well. Arlington County commissioned me to do Judge Wiggins when she retired from the Juvenile Courts. The portrait hangs at the Arlington County Courthouse. But portraiture is about pleasing the client and painting what the client wants. It’s not, necessarily, what the artist wants to paint. So I branched out again.

Next, I focused on landscapes since there is an infinite amount of subject matter to see wherever one goes. I especially liked the views of Georgetown and the Key Bridge as I would drive down the George Washington Parkway. Thus, I became know for my Key Bridge/Georgetown paintings. But I also gravitated to the urban landscape. I love the city scenes of people and cars going about their business with the beauty of the lights from the storefront windows and the stop lights and tail lights of cars.

Art is a lifetime of discovery. I always say, “if you aren’t growing , you are dying.” So I will continue my puzzle solving through painting ,and I will enjoy it every day that I do. I hope you enjoy my show here at Iona Gallery. My other work may be seen at Gallery Underground in Crystal City and Gallery Clarendon; both galleries are located in Arlington, VA.

You can view my portfolio at jmcelvany.blogspot.com.


J.Ford Huffman, artist

I create whole new worlds from old, found objects.

Then I invite you, the gallery visitor, to imagine the narratives for the mixed-media assemblages I call “little theaters.” I provide the composition. You may provide the story.

Some of my works are figurative. Some are abstract. Each is inspired by the shape and form of a found object. For example, pieces of found wood turn into skyscrapers in the two Metropolis-series sculptures in this exhibit.

I make drawings, photographic compositions, and the works you see here. Visualizing and executing work in three dimensions is enjoyable from development through completion.

In 2016, the National Building Museum commissioned a little theater, and my work is in private collections in the United States and in Japan and France. I designed the sets for two world-premiere plays at Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Theater in Wheeling, W.Va.

Besides the work here at Iona’s Lois and Richard England Gallery, I’ve one piece in a show through 11 November at the Athenaeum in Alexandria, Va., and 21 pieces at Watergate Gallery in Foggy Bottom through 21 September.

My work has been exhibited also at venues including Capitol Hill Center Galleries, Torpedo Factory Art Center, GWU’s Gallery 102, Politics and Prose, and Art Registry, which hosted my first solo show (in 2009).

When I am not in my studio, I offer training in words and art at publications everywhere including India and in Dubai. Also, I write fiction and nonfiction book reviews (Military Times).

You can view my portfolio at pbase.com/jfordhufffman/stages.


Richard Levine, artist

My love of travel and exploration spark the inspiration, both spiritual and visual that I derive from experiencing new landscape, people and culture which in turn invigorates my work and challenges me to both portray and understand our world. I like to paint and photograph in places where the weather, the traditions and the geography still dominate; where these elements identify and characterize a locale. My work has always been of a “documentary” nature, whether painting rural New England barns, grain mills in Oregon or urban landscapes I seek to capture essentials before they disappear.

For several years I traveled the Amtrak train on its “Northeast Corridor” service between Washington and New York. Along this route one passes through a microcosm of the changes that have occurred in the American urban landscape. Factories which once employed multi-generational families and around which towns grew and prospered now stand empty and silent. I see many of these urban landscape subjects as “remnants”, left over artifacts of once fully intact structures and community, now disused and deteriorating. In other cities adaptation to the new economy has been successful and shuttered factories have been re-purposed to provide entirely different functions.

Cities have, for millenniums, represented the apotheosis of human development and endeavor. They are our locus for culture, art, science and commerce and for a visual artist provide an endless challenge to depict its architecture, its moods, its secrets and the special character which defines each. These paintings represent my attempt to capture something of those qualities in places as diverse from one another as New Jersey to Italy to Virginia to Amsterdam.

I have been greatly influenced by the urban landscapes of Richard Diebenkorn, particularly his “Berkeley” series. The unique American style and sensitivity of Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth inform and inspire my work in rural areas.

You can view my portfolio at richardlevine.net.


Ann Schaefer, artist

I work outdoors, fascinated by the way sunlight makes every scene constantly change, as highlights and shadows shift. I enjoy painting buildings and capturing history in my work. Washington, DC, and the countryside and towns of Maryland are my favorite sources of inspiration. I love painting in Frederick County, and historic downtown Frederick, as well as by the Potomac River, the C&O Canal, and the Nanticoke River, where I now live part-time.

Immersed in the outdoor experience, interpreting the world around me, I seek to capture on canvas or paper not only the visual impression of light and color, but other sensory aspects of the scene, such as the warmth or chilliness, sounds and atmosphere, or activity around me as I paint in a particular place and time. I use a bright palette, modeled on the Impressionists’, and the excitement in my work comes from the rapid brushstrokes, and energy I get from my attempts to catch the light as it washes across a scene.

A Fine Arts graduate of the George Washington University, I paint landscapes and cityscapes outdoors in oil, watercolor and acrylic. A life-long artist, I had a “day-job” career at NOAA, in the US Department of Commerce, managing environmental programs and projects. My commitment to our precious and fragile environment continues as I paint outdoors, enjoying the beauty of nature, hoping that my work will help others appreciate it more deeply. I live near the Potomac River in Bethesda, and part-time by the Nanticoke River on Maryland’s eastern shore. A member of the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association (MAPAPA), I participate in plein air painting events in Maryland and neighboring states and have won awards in many of these competitions.

I am pleased to return to Iona, where I showed a large selection of my earlier work in 2012. My work has been on view at Gallery 322, 322 N. Market Street in Frederick, MD since 2009.

You can view my portfolio at annschaeferart.com.


Tom Walsh, artist

My interest in painting began in the early 60’s. I began working with an artist in Bucks Country PA. I would help her with art shows and Friday night lectures, which would cover a wide range of subjects and demonstrations.

In school, I went more for graphic arts. Knowing I would have to make a living, I worked as a graphic designer for Temple University for twelve years, before moving to DC in 1980, where I began my design firm until 1997.

In the summer of 1997 while on vacation at the outer banks of NC I began to paint, the abstract paintings I did led me in the direction I wanted to go. I am drawn to the works of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

After winning first place with The Alexandria Commission for the Arts, I rented a studio on the third floor of a Historic house in SW, DC where I worked on my first solo show for the Nevin Kelly Gallery in DC and my second show at the Wexler Gallery in Philadelphia, PA.

I see my paintings as Urban Landscapes on the basis of various architectural landscapes. I see light and color reflections in every concrete building I look at and the light reflecting from glass gives constant streams of color at different times of day and night.

I have spent most of my life in two cities Philadelphia and Washington; Philadelphia has tall dark buildings and narrow streets, and DC has lower architecture and wider streets with sky.

I have lived in Washington, DC with my partner Anthony since 1980 with our canine pets. It is a great visual treat to live in DC with all its museums and diverse culture.


Elaine S. Wilson, artist

Being observant and alert are central to the act of drawing and painting. Our culture has sped up so much that the act of slowing down and noticing helps me to see more deeply – especially the relationships between things.

I believe that the interdependence of all things is key to life and work. I see the beauty and meaning of physical things as metaphors for this interdependence of forms, which is a moral imperative. Unless we see what is around us in a rich way, we are likely to become more anxious: looking always for something that may not be there, when what is there is really remarkable. In the end, even the most mundane thing can contain lyricism.

My paintings are about revealing the specific nature of a place through repeated encounters versus capturing a particular moment. Over several visits, I find out more about a setting to see if I can unearth a rhythm of mark and color that elevates what I notice into something that others will find compelling. Every place has stories. As I work I discover what they are. Sometimes stories are brought to a place by the individuals who populate my paintings with their errands, their play, and their work. While I choose a site primarily for its visual quality, the stories contribute to the richness of the experience.

The three sites in DC that have engaged me most recently are the Hughes Tower in Brightwood, a construction site at T St. and Florida Avenue next to the Howard Theater, and the McMillan Filtration site at Michigan Ave and North Capitol. In all three cases, I became interested in the structure. Then, found myself learning about the development in the neighborhood and the meaning of the site for the people who live there, and the case of T Street and Florida people who have been displaced.

The quality of light in my paintings is paramount. The color must articulate the light and depth of a space, but also create its own rhythm within the painting. Light is a physical sensation, not just visual, as it is specific to both place and time. Without light, a painting is dead. I aim to have my artwork appear as if it made itself, effortlessly. Previous decisions may be part of the visual fabric, but I like the work to appear inevitable rather than labored or improvisational. The initial colors and marks left in the surface of the painting are an expression of the ‘ongoingness’ of time and place – evidence of the act of looking.

You can view my portfolio at elaineswilson.com.

You're Invited!

Come help us celebrate these artists on Saturday, September 14 from 7 to 9 PM for an energetic reception, with conversation and refreshments. This reception will also be a part of the popular Tenleytown Art All Night celebration.

Learn more and RSVP.

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