Rittenhouse: Philadelphia Artists Showcase Paintings at Commonweal Gallery

Adam Lovitz and Seneca Weintraut are Philadelphia artists whose cosmic-inspired paintings were on display at the Commonweal Gallery throughout March and April.

“They are quite different from the way that they approach their bodies of work, but at the same time, really embrace the idea of painting as a medium,” Commonweal Gallery executive director Alex Conner said. “I was lucky enough that they were both dealing at this time in their individual practices with what I would call cosmic concepts — ideas about the universe.”

Lovitz is an artist who lives and works in Philadelphia whose work is inspired by everyday objects. His technique is influenced by both natural and urban deterioration involving entropy, or “the measurable connectivity that we had with the universe,” he said.

”It’s the things that are in our immediate surroundings,” Lovitz said. ”Environments, on the sidewalks to nature, but then kind of those expansive themes that are just way too far beyond in the universe.”

Lovitz hopes his paintings will inspire in audiences the same kind of meditative thoughts that drive his process.

 ”Find resonance in just being present within,” he said. ”Finding those connections to nature, to the questions that are deep down inside of us.”

Weintraut’s paintings (Christine Jean-Baptiste/PN)

Weintraut also lives and works in Philadelphia. His paintings are influenced by themes of exploration, place-making, science, and American mythology.

“In the broadest sense, the unknown is kind of what I point to,” he said. “You know, as long as there’s unknowns in the universe, things that can’t be explained. Or observed. I guess that is what inspires a certain amount of creativity and makes belief and abstraction.”

Conner has known both Lovitz and Weintraut for a few years and said they are excellent painters who give their works a tactile quality. 

“Both of them are similarly kind of used paint as a material,” Conner said. “Instead of trying to hide the brush strokes and the fact that that’s what they’re working with, they really let it speak for itself, which I liked very much.”

Alex Conner, executive director of Commonweal Art Gallery. (Christine Jean-Baptiste/PN)

Lovitz goes through a meditative process when he gets ready to create art.

 “Sometimes it’s nice to just kind of have a window open and hear birds or you know, whatever noises are occurring outside,” he said.“ Definitely have to fall into a place where it can sort of just be funneled into the work and kind of remove all the to do list of that day. It helps that there’s a lot of waiting and drying time through the studio.”

Weintraut has a different creative process and a unique schedule.

“My job right now is probably in the morning so my studio days are kind of limited to late nights and weekends, particularly Sundays,” he said. “ 

After unwinding and journaling his thoughts, Weintraut’s work will unspool into a complicated mythology. 

“This particular body of work that is in the show now started with a giant, large narrative based in mythology, like an American mythology,” he said. “But I also look through old comic books. I try to find unique source material that isn’t just Google image search.”

One of Lovitz’s colleagues, Sarah Coot, has been following his work for years and is impressed with the Commonweal Gallery show.

 “I’ve actually been following his work since he was in a MFA program at Temple,” she said. “So, it’s really great to see, you know, his work later on as well and I think it’s an awesome pairing of the two artists.” 

Coot was also drawn into the mythology and narrative in Weintraut’s art. 

Guest admiring Lovitz’s paintings. (Christine Jean-Baptiste/PN)

“I’m very drawn to Seneca’s work,” she said. “I love the way he references book illustrations and the colors of the whole storytelling. I love that It’s a series and it’s a story.” 

Lovitz wants people to experience a high sensory experience when viewing his art.

“There’s just this physicality with the paintings that can’t be experienced on Instagram or on a tiny little screen,” he said. “So when somebody goes into the gallery, I want them to get like really intimate up close and see not only look at the image but find yourself inches away from the surface and find some little details that maybe your eyes you feel that your eyes are the only ones to see and like the little bubbling paint and minerals.”

Please email any questions or concerns about this story to: editor@philadelphianeighbors.com.

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