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Chester County Press

Layers of materials and layers of meaning

10/08/2018 09:03AM ● By J. Chambless

Robert Jenkins paints insects, layer by layer, on glass.

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

“Layers” is a clever title for a show at the Square Pear Fine Art Gallery in Kennett Square, which features artists who work, in one way or another, with layers of materials or layers of meaning.

Entering the gallery, you're first struck by the large watercolors of abandoned industrial spaces by Robert Jenkins. The larger works are more immersive studies of shadows, rust and grime, and the smaller ones are more focused on fewer details, but just as evocative.

Jenkins switches mediums and subject matter completely with his uncanny paintings of insects on layers of resin. These magical trompe l'oeil paintings capture butterflies, dragonflies, bees in a hive, beetles and more as if they're floating in space within their simple black frames. But get close, and you can see that each one is painted, layer by layer, until they create the illusion of three-dimensional objects. It's quite a trick, and the wall of Jenkins' natural wonders will have you studying each one closely.

John Baker's three-dimensional paper sculptures have the look of ancient artifacts, but they're original creations that blend rich earth tones, sticks and elgant shapes in ways that are distinctive, sculptural and enigmatic. Incised with notches and crevices, they are fascinating and timeless.

Woody Patterson's bold abstracts are constructed of hundreds of pieces salvaged from a dump of circuit boards, wires and computer parts. They are layered tightly and notched together to make intricate abstractions that reward close inspection. In some cases, they bring to mind layers of rock and earth built up over eons, with little strips of technology recognizable in the grays and browns surrounding them. It's a fabulous use of materials, and each one of Patterson's works is a room-filling statement.

Peter Saenger also works in layers with his porcelain vessels and bowls that are as intricate and delicate as spiderwebs. His stoneware platters are symphonies of squiggles and petal shapes and patterns upon patterns. In “A World Within,” Saenger works magic with a sphere of fragile, lace-like porcelain holding another sphere inside it.

His vessels and sculptural pitchers are elegant shapes with echoes of Asian design, blended with Saenger's contemporary flair. You won't be able to tell how he does it, but you'll be impressed.

In one of the galleries, you can see paintings by gallery owner Corien Siepelinga, whose abstract style fits right in with the theme. Densely painted surfaces, layered and scratched and overlapped, reveal endless patterns, and a sense of age and decay and resilience, all at once.

“Layers” continues through Oct. 31 at the Square Pear Fine Art Gallery (200 E. State St., Kennett Square). Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email