Anna Belle Loeb | Rabbit Years Memory Geometry

Reviews

Montgomery Media, July 15, 2011

Chestnut Hill Local, November 12, 2009

The Director's Chair (Knapp Gallery Blog), October 9, 2009

The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 15, 2009

Chestnut Hill Local, May 7, 2009

Philadelphia Inquirer, December 2008



Download a PDFMontgomery Media, July 15, 2011

Alternative art at Pagus Gallery

"One of Loeb’s most intriguing works is called “7 Seconds.” It is a painting inspired by the recent mass shooting in Arizona in which U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords was critically injured by a deranged assassin. The painting is a microcosm of the world, or at least the way Loeb sees it, with both good and evil. There are flowers, seemingly innocent people, bloody handprints and a pool of blood."


Chestnut Hill Local, November 12, 2009

Hill Artists Enters Her Studio 'see what shows up'

When looking at Anna Belle Loeb's paintings, one may ask the same questions as when waking from a strange dream: "Where did that come from?" The answer lies within the walls of The Knapp Gallery from November 6 to 30 within Loeb's newest collection She's Got A Lot on Her Mind.

As she cannot predict her dreams, Loeb cannot predict what will percolate from her paintbrush. "When I walk into my studio I am really there to see what shows up."

"Our response, as artists, to the story of our lives becomes the flavor and power of our art. Anna Belle Loeb, true to this formula, paints her way free of life’s inequitable entanglements," said Karl Slocom, Director of The Knapp Gallery. "Try as we may, we cannot outrun the variables interwoven into the fabric of our character. Shaped by time, experience and events, we are tethered to the story of our lives."

Academic Bergen Evans once wrote: "We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us." Nothing rings more true for Loeb when painting, "In my case life experiences flow from my youth, my children, my family, America, onto paper or canvas tacked to a wall." She adds, "Painting is a physical art with materials you can choose but over which you have limited control."

A former lawyer born in the American South in the 1940's, Loeb's is conscious that her work can ring political, as most easily seen in her paintings, "The Disappearing White Guy," "Mudslide of Politics," and "Big Bucks." While some of Loeb's paintings reflect her experiences, others more poignantly reflect her state of mind. Whether consciously or not, some of Loeb's paintings like "Cry Baby," and "Ochre Lambs" seem to say: Wherein lies pain, lies hope.

Loeb dedicated her last exhibit, Rabbit Years, to local writer John Updike, which contained many connectible images, namely her corresponding piece, "Rabbit in Hat." "Some of my paintings are narrative, words around images and public/political references," says Loeb. "No matter the form, painting is a deeply personal experience."

Because Loeb allows her paintbrush to flow--both from a somewhat mysterious place as well as from her experiences, her pieces radiate honesty. "The paintings stand on their own; emotional and honest; a dynamic and pivotal pure body of work with historical significance. As the viewer, we are moved in and out of her soulful vignettes, a quick pace poking at us, the painting is assertive," says Slocum. "She is masterful in her naiveté at getting us back to ground zero. She is relentless. She is a preacher."

To learn more about Anna Belle Loeb and her upcoming exhibit, please visit www.rabbityears.com. 

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The Director's Chair (Knapp Gallery Blog), October 9, 2009

We are products of our environments. Try as we may, we cannot outrun the variables interwoven into the fabric of our character. Shaped by time, experience and events, we are tethered to the “story “of our lives. Such is the human condition that we are buffeted and bruised by unpredictable external conditions. The nuance of our stories, while the flavor of individualism, divide us into groups of similar ilk. Many of these distinctions are governed by race, sex and the age we are born into history. We talk of people as products of an era; the 70s, 60s, from the “baby boomer” generation. Ascribing values based on specific characteristics of an era, helps us to understand individual perspective.

At every turn, we are gathering data, trying to make sense out it all. Element by element we dissect life’s minutia, breaking down the whole into bite size chunks; synthesizing processed data into new perspective and beliefs. Our imprinted beliefs, perspective and personal codes are largely based on demographics and economics; our social, educational and cultural orientation. Long has been the debate of nature vs. nurture; so many contradictions are wrapped up in the flesh. These are but a few of the controlling strings of the puppet artist that wield the brush. Our response, as artists, to the story of our lives becomes the flavor and power of our art. Stroke by stroke we pour out the by product, the purified solid matter of our experience. Anna Belle Loeb, true to this formula, paints her way free of life’s inequitable entanglements.

A product of the 40’s, reared on the heels of a recovering post depression economy; Anna Belle was born into an era of upheaval and unrest. A teen ager, Anna Belle was an eye witness to the integration of Little Rock Central High School, in Little Rock, Arkansas; she was in New Orleans when Kennedy was shot. Anna Belle Loeb, a white Southerner, whose youth was tainted by ugliness of segregation, has lived to see a Black man voted into the Presidency of the United States. She has seen a lot. Trained in ethics, a lawyer turned painter, Anna Belle’s art plays out years of anguish, resistance and dedication as a social and political activist. Wanting the wrongs of history righted, calling out for equity, justice and truth, she paints away at the dross of life exposing the limitless possibilities that come with freedom.

Painting the moment, documenting events, she is a chronicler - a present day Griot, a title normally reserved and ascribed to an African Tribal storyteller, always a man. The Griot's role was to preserve the genealogies and oral traditions of the tribe. Anna Belle’s paintings, like pages of time, are set apart as documents and declarations; parchments. A voracious reader, Loeb’s bold colorful in your face artistic world is oftentimes driven by words. Her most recent show, “Rabbit Years,” held at the Pagus Gallery, in Norristown, PA was dedicated to famous Pennsylvania born, American novelist/poet John Updike. She too is a poet with a brush.

Tim Hawkesworth, Loeb’s teacher and mentor, says of her paintings; “Anna Belle is a Southerner and her art flows from a Southern consciousness. It is quick, Laconic, comedic and tragic. It does not stand still. It is full of contradictions and the complexity of good conversation. They have the bite of graffiti and the ferocity of an uncompromised stare. They are street tough and sharp. While they seduce and engage our senses they can at times tear at our consciousness. They can break our hearts.”

Laser sharp is her scapel, slicing through bone and marrow. Titles including The Disappearing White Guy, Mudslide of Politics, Big Bucks, Thou Shalt not break my Heart, Inherit the Wind, affirm the intensity of her message. Visually, with an equaled tenacity, she wields an assertive brush. She is not timid. The paintings by nature are edgy screaming with texture, bright color and raw energy; having weighty souls. Yet, in all this there are significant contradictions. Anna Belle is not just all bite, her paintings - Cry Baby, Ochre lambs, young woman and Rabbit in the Hat tell us otherwise. A counter-balancing compassion metes out hope and love for her neighbor. We are caught up in the story of her craft. She gets inside and breaks down our barriers.

Reviewed on Friday, May 15, 2009, by Victoria Donohoe, of the Philadelphia inquirer, Rabbit Years, Loeb’s maiden voyage, got noticeable attention: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/pa/chester/20090515__Group_of_two__exhibit_together.html?text=reg&c=yc=y “Although some contain recognizable images, they're more about the feeling in each that's experienced at some remove from nature, yet not really removed from it. Thus, they draw us in and carry us along, the best examples being authentically civilized experiences.”

Beyond all the rest, Anna Belle is a painter; loving discovery in the Studio, liking the paint as well as the medium. The paintings stand on their own; emotional and honest; a dynamic and pivotal pure body of work with significant historical significance. As the viewer, we are moved in and out of her soulful vignettes, a quick pace poking at us, the painting is assertive. Raw and intriguing, bold in their progressiveness, the paintings demand acknowledgement. Protesting as when she was an adolescent, the paintings march on the Washington DCs of our hearts crying out “Let freedom ring from every village and every hamlet...” She is masterful in her naiveté at getting us back to ground zero. She is relentless. She is a preacher.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 15, 2009

It's a lift to see Anna Belle Loeb's paintings for the first time. That's because she takes command of her 18 large, acrylic paintings at Pagus with such easy assurance.

Loeb is a Southerner transplanted to Chestnut Hill, a lawyer in midcareer who has taken up painting seriously, having studied with Tim Hawkesworth. She touches on many subjects here: history, family, politics, a shaman, grief, gardens, comedy, and tragedy. And yet, her paintings aren't objects.

Although some contain recognizable images, they're more about the feeling in each that's experienced at some remove from nature, yet not really removed from it. Thus, they draw us in and carry us along, the best examples being authentically civilized experiences.

Such pictures are made up of loosely brushed color, seemingly casually applied, that allows many of these pieces to open up and breathe. Loeb has found rich, new possibilities in her chosen subject, the poetry of the everyday.

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Chestnut Hill Local, May 7, 2009

As John Updike grew up in Berks County, Pennsylvania, where he would soon create his great series of "Rabbit" novels, Anna Belle Loeb was born over 1,000 miles away in Arkansas. Loeb's life would eventually lead her to Updike's old stomping ground and ultimately to the Pagus Gallery in Norristown, where she is currently exhibiting her new painting series called "Rabbit Years" that is dedicated to John Updike.

"The paintings do not themselves necessarily relate to Updike," Loeb explained, "but when i finished the paintings, he had just died, and I was very moved by that. I have been reading his books my entire adult life, and he inspired me. He cared about the things I care about. I met him twice at book signings."

Born in Little Rock in the 1940s, Loeb came into a world of civil unrest; schools in the South were still segregated, which would change in Little Rock years later after President Eisenhower called in the 101st Airborne to integrate Little Rock Central High School. Later, as a young adult, Loeb earned a degree in history form Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.

In 1971, Updike began his sequel to Rabbit, Run, the novel that made him a household name, called Rabbit Redux, his response to the social and political turmoil of the 1960s. Having moved to New Orleans, Loeb worked at Tulane University's rare books library. Like so many others of her generation, Loeb has graphic memories of the Kennedy and King assassinations, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War.

Years later (and not yet a painter) Loeb moved from the South to Philadelphia as Updike wrapped up his "Rabbit" Series with the Pulitzer Prize winner, Rabbit at Rest, in 1990. Now, after living in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill with her family for almost 40 years, Loeb has had a number of experiences and careers. She recalled, "I've worked in education, public health and law, in non-profits, government and the private sector." Loeb has also earned degrees in law and education at Temple University. She taught urban planning for the Great Lakes Colleges Association in Philadelphia, and for 15 years she practiced law, both public interest law and for the City Solicitor's Office.

In 1998 Loeb began to paint and found the experience deeply personal; life experiences flowed out of her youth, her children, her family and her country.

Loeb painted fervently throughout the past decade, culminating with what would become "Rabbit Years." "When I walk into my studio, I am really there to see what shows up," Loeb explains. "I think of this process as magic: surprises and possibilities emerge." It's interesting that 'magic' is the word Loeb uses to describe her process, kind of like a magician pulling a 'rabbit' out of a hat.

When outlining her new exhibit, which premieres on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 10, she struggled for a name. One painting stood out—of rabbit ears poking out of a hat. John Updike's "Rabbit" series came tomind for many reasons. Anyone who has read the "Rabbit" series knows that it's a mistake to take the stories literally; this proves true in Loeb's work as well. Also, like Updike the writer, Loeb presents a profound understanding of everyday America, from Philadelphia to Berks County to the South and beyond.

Tim Hawkesworth, Loeb's teacher and mentor at the Norristown Art Center, said "Anna Belle is a Southerner and her art flows from a Southern consciousness. It is quick, laconic, comedic and tragic. It does not stand still. It is full of contradictions and the complexity of good conversation." Hawkesworth describes her paintings as simply 'beautiful'"They have the bite of graffiti and the ferocity of the uncompromising stare." (Loeb also had "great teachers at the Woodmere Art Museum classes.")

Now in her 60s, Loeb plans to continue painting and exhibiting her work for many years to come, not just for herself, but as a contribution to her beloved community. Updike once said, "You cannot help but learn more as you take the world into your hands. Take it up reverently, for it is an old piece of clay with millions of thumbprints on it."

Loeb's works have been included in previous exhibits at Woodmere and elsewhere, but "Rabbit Years" is her first solo exhibit. Loeb, who is retired from the law and teaching and now paints full-time, has two children —Locke Woodfin, late 30s, who lives in Narberth, and Anne, 40, who lives in Minneapolis.

Pagus Gallery is at 619 W. Washington St. in Norristown. Loeb's exhibit will run through May 23. An artist's reception will take place there Sunday, May 10, 2 to 5 p.m. For more information, email annabelle@rabbityears.com or visit www.rabbityears.com

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Philadelphia Inquirer, December 2008

'Small' show at Pagus

Eighteen artists display 53 paintings in the second annual Pagus "Small Works" show by artists with studios in the gallery's Norristown home. Tim Hawkesworth, the only artist who teaches here, is a show-stopper with his small horse painting that seems rooted in the earth and in childhood memory, and his two abstractions with seeming flesh-and-blood substantiality, so densely painted are they.

Marianne Mitchell in her richly colored partly abstract paintings remains unswayed by the need for novelty or rhetoric. She seems to know what art is for her and she just goes about doing it. Works by Edwina Brennan, Mary Beth Kazinicka and Anna Belle Loeb also stand out. 

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