Patricia Satterlee at Gold Montclair

In Dialogue
SPACELAND. Each Flashe paint and graphite on panel. 12 x 12 in. / 30.5 x 30.5 cm
SPACELAND. Each Flashe paint and graphite on panel. 12 x 12 in. / 30.5 x 30.5 cm

Patricia Satterlee wrote this concise statement to contextualize the work she exhibits in her third solo show at Gold Montclair:

This work resists the feeling that everything is falling apart. Holding on to a real or imagined moment without the noise. A particular way of being a boat on a stream passes in time. A figuration of forms floating and morphing, rediscovered as they’re painted.

An interview with curator and gallery founder Jennifer Wroblewski gives us more insight into her curatorial vision and the featured artworks.

What’s your curatorial vision?

I am supportive of Patricia’s work over time and will do all that I can to present her new work in a dignified and elevated installation. To prepare for install of the 26 paintings, Patricia made a mock-up of the show to scale in her studio. When the work came to Montclair, we made a few changes based on the visual elements of the gallery. We moved some things around to maximize wall space and brought in a ton of light. The four RYB paintings include subtle shifts in hue within a neutral palette. The twenty-two SPACELAND paintings have subtle washes of color over the wood grain of the panel, so lighting was important. Patricia’s work is specific and rigorous in every way, so the gallery must take on a more austere, white-box character when we show her work. 

What can you tell us about the two bodies of work?

RYB stands for Row Your Boat. Patricia had been chewing on the Bengali parable, “If you put your feet into two boats, you will fall into deep water.” She began the paintings as drawings on panel, and eventually found resolution with the addition of color.

RYB is a group of four paintings made on 42 x 46-inch linen panels. Two hang vertically and two horizontally. They share a palette of slightly shifting neutrals, a verdant, almost military green, sky blue, and golden yellow. Within the four paintings, there are repeating visual elements as well as a graphite line that works in different ways—as a delineator of space, a contour for a visual motif, and a formal meander.  

The SPACELAND paintings grew out of the drawing practice of RYB. SPACELAND consists of 22 small framed wooden panels that are 12 x 12 inches. Each panel contains an abstract image. Some images lean toward the pictorial, others read like glyphs, and a few are purely, ecstatically abstract. 

Installation view

Can you walk us through the show?

When you enter the space, you are met by a group of four SPACELAND paintings hung in a grid. And on the second wall facing the door are a pair of SPACELANDs. So, your first site line or vignette is about the abstract ideas presented on the small wooden panels. You are immediately brought into a state of active interpretation. To the right, on the main wall, you can see RYB #4 and RYB #3. 

RYB #4 relies on geometry and formal decisions to find its balance. Interestingly, RYB #4 was, at one point, the most elaborate of the paintings, and Patricia worked carefully to bring it to a place of quiet resolution. The top right corner of the work contains a large green form that is figural, delineated with four negative shapes: black, white, blue, and yellow.  Surrounding that form, a square within the rectangle, is a series of large shapes in subtle shifting neutral hues ranging from cream to taupe to a warm gray. The meandering graphite line that cuts through the tracts of neutral shapes resonates with Byzantine architectural detail. In the bottom middle of the painting is a small cone shape containing a grid drawn in perspective. Looking more closely, you can detect that the green figure in the top left is reflected below itself in shades of white or gray, and inside this reflection is the mysterious triangular window to some other space. Or perhaps it is an object. 


RYB #3 shares the same dimensions and pallete but registers more as narrative. Symmetrical green shapes create a suggestion of landscape. A small round shape (the moon?) floats above. A cream-colored form that might be a person floats in a gray space with an image borrowed from SPACELAND, a slithering organic form that may be a fish on a line. Perhaps a memory, revisited and mediated through painting language and formal decision-making. Patricia uses Flashe with hard-won fluency, indulging the matte finish and working the surfaces through sanding and layering until the scaly fish-like form shines iridescently. 


On the large south wall of the gallery is a group of 12 SPACELANDS hung one row above the other. And to their right are hung RYB #1 and RYB #2. In RYB #1, we hover far outside the scene as if omniscient.  RYB #2 comprises two dominant figures inside a carefully delineated space—an eternal partnership of unlike objects or beings. 


This is Patricia’s third solo show with your gallery. How do you see this exhibition in the context of the previous two?

Well, first of all, it is a gift to work with an artist over the years to develop a deeper understanding of the work and process. Patricia is diligent and also very, very smart. Her work is uncompromising. 

The first show we did together was Already Gone, a group of large panels ranging in size from 62 x 62 to 78 x 72. These large works shared a palette and visual motifs that seemed to float from painting to painting. I spent time in the room with them over many weeks, witnessing very deliberate and calculated choreography of forms functioning together across the works to tell a bunch of different stories. Patricia’s work rewards a long look. 

Patricia responded to the challenging events of 2020 -2021 (COVID-19, BLM, etc) with a body of work called PIE, and we called the show Enough PIE for Everyone. This show comprised 30 square panels of an abstract circle form that resembled a pie chart, hung in grid groupings on the gallery walls. The scale shift from Already Gone to PIE was noteworthy. The PIE paintings are little powerful engines of positive energy. It was a remarkable, singular show that is nothing like anything I’ve seen. Tom Michelli wrote a beautiful review for Hyperallergic that offers further insight.  

The RYB + SPACELAND show is the first time Patricia has put two groups of work together. RYB was started before PIE, and SPACELAND is more recent work. In her studio, we started to notice some visual elements moving between both groups, and it became clear that they are not so discrete after all. So that was interesting, I think, for both of us. 

All three shows are/were very beautiful. I would not want to leave beauty out of this conversation. The line quality, color choices, scale shifts, and paint treatment are specific and calm.

Installation view

All photo courtesy of the gallery and the artist

PATRICIA SATTERLEE: RYB + SPACELAND at Gold Montclair 594 Valley Road, Courtyard, Montclair NJ 07043 Through December 31, 2023

About the artist: PATRICIA SATTERLEE grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. She attended classes at the Carnegie Art Institute before entering Carnegie Mellon University. After two years, she transferred to California and received a BFA from UC Santa Cruz. After graduating, she moved to Washington, DC where she received an MFA from American Univeristy in 1993 and taught at area schools and colleges. She relocated to New York in 1999 with a studio first in Williamsburg, then in Bushwick for fifteen years, and now in Long Island City. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and has been reviewed in the New York Times, the Washington PostHyperallergic, and many other publications.