Luscious Wasteland: Cathy Diamond and Laurie Fader at Radiator Arts

In conversation with Patrick Neal, Cathy Diamond, and Laurie Fader

A hallway with art on the wall

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Installation of Luscious Wasteland: Cathy Diamond and Laurie Fader at Radiator Arts (All images courtesy Radiator Arts).

The two-person exhibition Luscious Wasteland at Radiator Arts features landscape paintings by Cathy Diamond and Laurie Fader. Both artists embed in their imagery elements from personal experience, nature, visual art, music, literature or science, to create intricate and imaginative landscapes. The exhibition opens Fri, September 16 and runs through October 23, 2022. Art Spiel invited the curator of the show, Patrick Neal, and the two artists, Cathy Diamond and Laurie Fader to reflect on the featured paintings as separate bodies of work and in relation to each other.

Patrick, what is your curatorial vision for this painting exhibition?

During studio visits, it was clear to me that both Laurie and Cathy have been exploring aspects of their own personal lives in relation to the larger world in their landscape paintings. Laurie often pictures vast, panoramic vistas while Cathy’s compositions read simultaneously as up-close and topographic. In both cases, the terrain they present are evocative as inner mindscapes as much as the paintings capture the colors, forms and textures of actual places. Laurie depicts overtly figurative motifs derived from her imagination or appropriated from art history, and Cathy creates hybrid forms that are part plant and animal. At Radiator Arts, the show is organized so that the two artists play off one another formally as well as thematically. They both animate negative space and employ abstraction in their works to deliver personal narratives that sometimes run parallel to one another, then later diverge. Laurie takes the viewer on epic journeys across epochs, while Cathy’s narratives feel more intimate, spanning and absorbing the four seasons of a year.

Can you guide us through the show?

The show is hung so that the paintings are interspersed and in dialogue with one another with a range of small, medium, and large works. Both artists rely on drawing and sketchbooks to generate imagery, and their mediums range from acrylic and oil on canvas to a variety of mixed media on panel. At Radiator Arts, we begin in a small gallery that sets the stage and introduces each artist’s work before moving on to a larger gallery. The works have titles like World View, Search Party, Journey and Above it All, and one starts to notice recurrent themes of existential anxiety, resilience, loss, death, and life asserting itself. There are forms that echo and abound like trees and thickets, spindly thorns and scythes, dunes and crags, and paths and crevices. The paintings are rendered in earth tones suggestive of temperature, climate, and the four elements: fire, water, earth, and air. There are flashes of high key scarlets, pinks, and golden orange that conjure weather, mood, and drama.

A couple of paintings on a wall

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(Left to right) Laurie Fader, Warrior Women, 2022, oil on canvas, 42 x 48 inches. Cathy Diamond, Dune, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 30 inches.

Cathy and Laurie, a two person show enables an interesting insight into the artists work for curator, featured artists, and viewers alike. It can often lead to meaningful reflections on your own work as well as on each other’s. You mentioned that such a process occurred in this context – can you elaborate on that?

Laurie: At first glance, our work appears similar in our mutually invented language of color and shape that references the landscape with an emphasis on abstraction and color. It is evident that we have both spent years painting on-site that has given us tools for handling light and space. On closer analysis we are very different. Cathy uses thin layers of transparent color that creates an ephemeral, luminous color light that reflects out from the surface of the canvas and invites the viewer to pause and reflect. My work is thicker, blunter, and my mood is for the most part dark and psychological. Although we are both acutely aware of mortality, perhaps because of our age, the difference in sensibility is like Zen vs. guerilla warfare. My paintings embrace frozen mutated plants and figures in arid moody landscapes suggesting haunting climate changes while Cathy’s paintings hold a moment of mystical arrest filled with memories and ghosts.

Cathy: I find there is a strong circular movement in both of our works that sweeps you in and around a complex space. There is a feeling of radiating around the imagery, of lifting and falling. We both use saturated colors that live in the temperatures of nature while also amplifying very personal struggles and joys – the tuned-up color that also gets moody and mysterious fascinates me. Nature is both a comforting and a scary friend – it welcomes our psychological distortions and musings. Laurie populates her worlds with layers of animals and figures, where my imagery suggests figuration in the postures of trees and plant-life that are abstract and open to interpretation. Laurie’s denser, more impacted surfaces differ from my compositions, where light and air offer a quieter kind of loneliness and reflection.

A painting on a wall

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(Left to right) Cathy Diamond, Totem, 2022, acrylic, ink on paper on panel, 20 x 20 inches.
Laurie Fader, World View, 2022, oil on canvas, 50 x 70 inches.

Can each of you pick one painting of the other artist and share your thoughts on it?

Laurie: Woods in Vermont is a small painting but large in its ability to hold the gaze for a long time. Cathy’s work in general is an accumulation of gestures made by her extraordinary calligraphic touch of a brush loaded with varying amounts of liquid. In this exquisite piece, there is a thicket of strokes and textures so delicate and tender, one feels she loves her subject matter and the process of remembering it. There is serenity, fascination and adoration of the spirited woods as well as finding a language and color to characterize those natural forms. The viewer revels in her simultaneous love of painting and love of nature.

A picture containing fabric

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Cathy Diamond, Woods in Vermont, 2022, acrylic, ink on paper on panel, 9 x 12 inches.

Cathy:  I chose Laurie’s Journey to discuss. This painting has a remarkable light, which illuminates a mysterious story that changes from object to object. There is so much to look at simultaneously, which gives the paintings scope and complexity. The crisp central trees, in silvery yellows and greens are filled with stylized filigree and ornamentation. They act as sort of guardian angels for the three figures below them, which are really the same pose repeated, but changed, proceeding along the ground plane. Each figure, which is part elephant, part figure and part bird, has a halo of color around them – they look like they were beamed into the space. The sky casts a violet-gray brooding darkness around it all, including a far-away city, which amplifies the more life-affirming yellows, greens and pinks. There are many journeys here, to find form and maturity, to find self, and to lose oneself in the magic of the scene. 

Laurie Fader, Journey, 2022, oil on canvas, 42 x 48 inches.

Cathy Diamond has exhibited in and around New York City for three decades, and more recently, has curated several shows. Selected solo-two person shows include Andre Zarre Gallery, Farrell Pollock Fine Art and Sideshow Gallery. Selected group shows include Alice Gauvin Gallery, Zurcher Gallery, Buddy Warren Fine Art, Gallery Boreas, Susquehannah Art Museum, The National Academy of Art, Joyce Goldstein Gallery, and Haveford College. Her works on paper have travelled to Miami Basel, Cleveland Museum of Art, Park Avenue Armory and Boston Print Fair. Diamond has been awarded several residency fellowships across the country, and is the recipient of an Artists, Inc. Grant. She is represented by Alice Gauvin Gallery.  Diamond is Adjunct Professor of Art at Borough of Manhattan Community College.
The abstract narrative paintings of Louisville-based artist, Laurie Fader, evolved after many years of direct perceptual landscapes on the streets of New York, Baltimore and Italy. Her new work references climate change, animism, and female power through parables. She has won a Pollock-Krasner Grant, Great Meadows Foundation awards, a Helen Winternitz award from Yale University, an Adolf and Esther Foundation emergency grant and residencies at The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the International School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture in Umbria and the American Academy in Rome. She is represented by Bonfoey Gallery in Cleveland, Galerie Hertz and Zephyr Gallery in Louisville, KY.
Patrick Neal, NYC-based painter, arts writer and curator is a regular contributor to Two Coats of Paint, and has written for Hyperallergic and Whitehot Magazine as well as several exhibition catalogs and monographs. He recently served as a visiting artist at Interlude Artist Residency, Hudson, NY. His latest solo exhibition, Atmosphere: Patrick Neal New Work, was on view at Joyce Goldstein Gallery in Chatham, NY, this past April–May. His work is included in the group show Still at Platform Project Space, Brooklyn, that runs from September 30 through October 29. He will be exhibiting new photographic prints and paintings at The Local NYC, Long Island City, NY, from November 1 through December 31, 2022. Neal is a 2018 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship recipient in painting and was awarded a 2021 City Artist Corps Grant.

Luscious Wasteland: Cathy Diamond and Laurie Fader at Radiator Arts Curated by Patrick Neal On view: September 16-October 23, 2022 Radiator Gallery 10-61 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101