Web Analytics


TONALISM NOW Installation photograph, Sarah Vedder, Jon Francis, Joseph Goldyne, James David Thomas, Bjorn Rye, James Haggerty, John Beaver

Press Release


Sullivan Goss announces a landmark exhibition of artworks in oil, acrylic, pencil, encaustic, tapestry, collodion photography, and photo­polymer etching that explore the ideas and aesthetics of the American Tonalist tradition. Building on an established roster of regional and national artists already working in the tradition that includes Jon Francis, Nicole Strasburg, and Sarah Vedder, as well artists well known to the gallery’s audience like Meredith Brooks Abbott, Joseph Goldyne, and James David Thomas, the gallery hopes to establish itself as a preeminent West Coast champion and source for Tonalist art.

Tonalism is more of a pictorial approach than a particular school. In the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries, a variety of artists experimented with a muted palette and/or with capturing dreamy, atmospheric scenes at dawn, dusk, or in moonlight. Their art was deeply romantic, mysterious, and subjective. They were poets in paint. Many consider their interest in subjectivity and painterly abstraction to be an important antecedent to Modernist abstraction.

The artists in TONALISM NOW depart from this tradition to create contemporary works in new and traditional media. Among these, Wolf Kahn, April Gornik, and Terry DeLapp have achieved the widest reputations in what has sometimes been called “Neo­Tonalism.” Although Kahn and DeLapp have brighter palettes than their forebears, their interest in “glow” and in poetic suggestion ally them. Gornik traditionally makes sublime Tonal works in paint, pencil and print form, but in this exhibition, she will be represented by a jacquard tapestry.


Jon Francis, Nicole Strasburg, and Sarah Vedder are all long veterans to both the gallery and to Tonalist practice. Each approaches Tonalism from a different vantage point. Francis chases the golden glow of Old California. Vedder and Strasburg are both sensitive colorists with a strong interest in abstraction who arrive at very different styles.

The gallery’s sustained interest in the careers of certain artists with Tonalist leanings should not be a surprise. Nevertheless, audiences may be surprised to see solidly Tonal works by Meredith Brooks Abbott and Chris Peters. Imports of far away artists like Betsy Eby, Ben Bauer, and David Skinner will also add to the sense of discovery. Long time Santa Barbarans will not be surprised by the inclusion of Bjorn Rye (1942­1998), but they may be amazed to learn what Santa Barbara artist Marc Lozano has been up to, sequestered away in his studio.

Curator Jeremy Tessmer will round out the show with a nod to the Tonalist influence on contemporary approaches to photography and print­making with a special selection of works by Lindsey Ross and Monica Wiesblott.

Most of the artists in this exhibition have shown with the gallery before, but this project will relocate their works within a broader art historical context as well as showcasing Sullivan Goss’ long­standing passion for the look and feel of American Tonalism.

TONALISM NOW is presented as the contemporary counterpart to the Gallery’s concurrent exhibition of historical material, TONALISM THEN: 1870­ - 1930.


4:04 | Jeremy Tessmer

Back To Top