ARTIST RECEPTION “Patricia Bella-Gillen | Listening to Jackalopes” at Nicole Longnecker Gallery

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ARTIST RECEPTION “Patricia Bella-Gillen | Listening to Jackalopes” at Nicole Longnecker Gallery

March 14 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


MARCH 14 – MAY 11, 2024: Patricia Bella-Gillen combines historical and recent events, fairytale, and comic imagery to create densely visual, yet humorous, drawings and collages in her show “Listening to Jackalopes” at Nicole Longnecker Gallery.

ARTIST STATEMENT: “Somewhere in my brain, personal narrative mixes with fairytales. Historical events intertwine with the imagined and a veil of nostalgia blurs the border between fact and fiction. Sacred imagery moves about in the temporal lobe with iconic characters from children’s stories and recent news flashes picked from the Internet join the sagas of black and white television. My mixed media drawings and collages use these bits and pieces of visual history…the stones and bones of memory…to suggest a narrative and to engage the viewer’s associative responses.

Words are powerful. ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’

The sounds and meanings of words move me. A line from an old song moaning on a car radio and the strange sound of the word “cartouche” served as catalysts for this body of work. ‘Who will tell your story?’  The lyric offered a quiet reminder of the power and importance of words. Who tells our story?  Who writes our history?  Who defines our canons?

The word cartouche carries three meanings:  1. A cartouche is an ornamental architectural or graphic frame used to display a picture or inscription to honor a person or memorialize an event.  2. Archaeologists use the word cartouche to designate the lozenge shape that encloses a group of Egyptian hieroglyphs denoting the name of a Pharoah or a signifying a phrase. 3. A third description, defines a cartouche as a cache for holding gun powder or weapons.  This body of work employs the cartouche as the framework to contain and unite my accumulated and eclectic imagery.  The convergence of the three different definitions provides the glue that fuses the ideas together.

The Victorian fad of displaying taxidermy tableaus in the parlor, led many people to believe that jackalopes existed. The Great Moon Hoax of 1835, serialized in a New York newspaper, convinced the public that blue goats and man-bats existed on the moon. The intricate colored pencil drawings are a personal meditation about how the past (or what we think we know about the past) is entangled with the present and how words, ideas, dogmas, policies, doctrines, memories, and legends can be weaponed.

The drawings and collages combine imagery generated through reading and study with imagery that is personal and intuitive. Iconic figures from book illustrations and cultural, religious and dream symbols share the platform with the characters that appear and press on my mind with no explanation.

I would like my work to confront the viewer simultaneously with beauty and awkwardness, to offer servings of comfort and discomfort and to mediate grace with humor. I am continuously searching for a weird elegance. I place great trust in the viewer.  With everything said…in the end the work is simply a love and celebration of the act of drawing.

ARTIST BIO: Patricia Bellan-Gillen lives in rural Burgettstown, Pennsylvania adjacent to the West Virginia border. She is the Dorothy L. Stubnitz Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where she teaches a variety of classes including Foundation Drawing, Concept Studio, Painting and MFA Seminar. Bellan-Gillen’s paintings, prints and drawings have been the focus of over 35 solo exhibitions across the U. S., including venues in Washington DC, Chautauqua, NY, Las Cruces, NM, Albany, NY, Bloomington, IL and Portland, OR. Her work has been included in numerous group shows in museums, commercial galleries, university galleries, and alternative spaces. Venues have included: Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY, Chelsea Museum of Art, New York, NY, Frans Masreel Centrum, Belgium, and the Tacoma Museum of Art, Tacoma, WA.

PUBLIC HOURS: Tuesday–Saturday 11:00 AM to 4 PM or by appointment

IMAGE: “Entangled Justice/One Eye Blind and a Ham Sandwich” by Patricia Bellan-Gillen, 2024, colored pencil, acrylic on birch, 58 x 55 in. Courtesy of the artist and Nicole Longnecker Gallery


Nicole Longnecker Gallery
1440 Greengrass Dr.
Houston, TX 77008 United States
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(346) 800-2780
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