By John Chambless
You can have fun contrasting the similarities and differences between the works of Richard Remenick and Giovanni Casadei, but perhaps it's best to just enjoy the riches offered in their dual exhibit that opened last weekend at the Oxford Arts Alliance.
It's a landmark exhibit featuring two marquee names in the regional art world, and there's an interesting backstory as well. Richard is the son of Seymour Remenick, a legendary figure in the Philadelphia art world. He absorbed the lessons offered by his father, and studied with both Christine Lafuente and with Casadei. Casadei himself took lessons from the elder Remenick for the last decade of Remenick's life. So the connections run deep.
Casadei has been a favorite of regional galleries for 20 years thanks to his small oils that gracefully express the haze of a beach afternoon (“Ocean City, Humid Afternoon”) or the way that well-chosen items can leap from the surface of a still life (“The Cobalt Glass” and “Silver”).
His beachscapes are wondrous little things, with a sliver of distant buildings on the horizon,
dwarfed by scrub grass and dunes (“Port O Call Hotel, Ocean City”) or perfectly rendered summer skies (“The Music Pier in the Distance”).
His still lifes use the negative space of the studio wall to wrap around the objects, drawing your eye to the details – a light reflection on a vinyl chair in “Highlights in the Studio,” or a bit of sun-warmed table covering in “Still Life With Pitchers and Vase.”
On the opposite wall of the gallery are oils by Remenick, whose style does echo that of his famous father. His standout works here are “Cliffs at Acadia,” which shows a massive stone cliff that's just barely outlined by glimmering sunlight, as well as his views of the Christina River in Wilmington.
What others might pass off as nothing special – a jumble of converted industrial buildings on an unremarkable stretch of water – is turned into a skillful meditation on development and nature, light and color. “Bend in the Christina River” and “Industrial Buildings in Wilmington” have a rich palette of earth tones and pale blue sky and water.
Remenick's “Sunset at Bass Harbor” is a lovely oil of a shady porch corner, slanting light and a boat heading away in the distance. It's a very satisfying composition. His “Boat House at Bass Harbor” is also very fine, showing a turned stairway and a few colorful floats in the lower left corner to draw us in.
It's quite a coup for the Arts Alliance to get artists of this caliber in the same show, and you'll want to linger over the tiny, beautiful details that make these works shine.
The Oxford Arts Alliance (38 S. Third St., Oxford) will exhibit paintings by Richard Remenick and Giovanni Casadei through the end of April. Gallery hours are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit OxfordArt.org.