Sidetracks Art Gallery is pleased to celebrate the 50-year Anniversary of Resident Artist Rachel Friedberg as a pioneer in the 20th-century revival of Encaustic Art with a solo exhibition entitled he/she e.t.c.  opening Saturday, June 15 and continuing through July 21, 2013.

An artist reception will be held on Saturday, June 15, 2013, from 6 to 9 PM.

Rachel Friedberg, of New York City, is one of the nation’s most experienced and renowned encaustic artists.  Her work was first shown in New Hope in ABSENCEremembrancePRESENCE  at Sidetracks in the winter of 2006.  Her work has graced the gallery walls ever since.

Encaustic is an ancient practice dating back to still-extant Egyptian portraits of the 2nd-century A.D. (and according to some accounts to Greece in the 5th-century B.C.)  It is a demanding art medium combining color pigment with heated beeswax and resin.  The resulting mixture is then fused directly to a wood panel or other firm support.  Its luminous surface can then be either incised or built up with applications of further hot encaustic – new layers physically driven into the previous surface to bind with earlier layers.  The process is both laborious and exacting, its physicality evident in the texture of the translucent surface.


It is Rachel Friedberg’s achievement in the 50 pioneering years she has worked with encaustic to harness this most ancient practice in the contemporary service of a spare and elegant sensibility.


In all her work, Rachel Friedberg reveals deep ambiguities of meaning springing from personal history and expressed in personally symbolic language. Hers is the fragile balance of opposing forces, the symbolic painted gesture that for a moment-out-of-time yearns to reconcile stark absence with the presence that both was and is now.  The fleetness of memory is flung into the caldron of heated wax, and both cools and solidifies into the  symbolic object—the resulting artwork.

The moment so captured leaves gloriously open the possibility of personal interaction with other individual histories and symbols.  Dialog may well result, and might even continue…

In New York City, selections from her “HE” series and “SHE” series first appeared in a 2006 solo show at Kouros Gallery on 57th Street.  Kouros mounted a sequel to those series two years later.   A completely new series, “Diary” has been completed and is in the planning stages for a New York debut. It consists of 14 Encaustic paintings and 30 works on paper, together with a book of 30 short stories or reflections on growing up in her Brooklyn neighborhood in the ‘30s and ‘40s – the making of the artist.

Ms. Friedberg was long on the faculty of New Jersey’s Fairleigh Dickinson University, first as a teacher of both painting and art history, and then as artist-in-residence.  She also served as the long-time curator of the university’s Edward Williams Art Gallery.