Sarah McEneaney: New Work
by Peter Plagens
In terms of art, Philadelphia—not Los Angeles or Chicago—may be the real "second city" to New York. Los Angeles now has so many big, fancy galleries, elegant museums and ambitious young artists that it's Gotham-in-the-Sun. And Chicago's antimodernist mainstream has been so historicized ("The Hairy Who" now seem as distant as the Hudson River School) that it's the City of Brotherly Love that gives off a genuine we-do-it-our-way prickliness.
But with Sarah McEneaney (b. 1955) the thorns—that self-taught look—are almost friendly (she studied at the venerable Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts). Her small, bright tempera-on-panel pictures are what in writing would be called “casuals” of the “What I Saw on My Summer Vacation” variety. Her affectionate subjects range from a bleachers’ view of a baseball game, to strollers in a wildlife refuge, to nondescript urban passageways, to her own feet lolling in water. Although the show has perhaps a few too many self-portraits in it (Ms. McEneaney’s personality comes through just fine in her view of other things in the world), it sparkles on the walls.