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Marsha Mateyka Gallery
Exhibition Archive

Athena Tacha

Drawings: Private and Public, 1977 - 2007

April 6 - May 25, 2013

reception for the artist: Saturday, April 6, 4:00 to 6:00 PM

Press Release

Washington Post Review

Private Drawings

SkyBlu, 2000
archival glue and "loulaki" blue powder pigment on black paper
22 x 30 inches

SunCopper, 2000-01
brass and copper powders in silicone on black paper
22.75 x 30.75 inches

SunCoral, 2000
archival glue and and red sands on black paper
22.75 x 30.75 inches

SunRed, 2001-02
red acrylic ink with airbrush on black paper
22 x 30 inches

Lava #3, 2002
orange and red acrylic ink with airbrush on black paper
22 x 30 inches

ComoWaves-Light, 2007
silver ink on black paper
20 x 28 inches

ComoWaves-Dark, 2007
black hot glue on black paper
20 x 28 inches

Quantum, 2003
white and silver acrylic ink with airbrush on black paper, diptych
28 x 40 inches

Flaring, 2003
orange acrylic ink with airbrush on black paper, diptych
28 x 40 inches

Drawings for Public Art

Intervals (Homage to the Tao), 1977
India ink and graphite on archival vellum
43 x 61 inches

                               Green Acres, Department of Environmental Protection, Trenton, NJ (1985-87)

Syncline, 1980
India ink and graphite on archival vellum
40 x 48 inches
(a partial model of this is in the Hirshhorn Museum collection)

Franklin Town Park Commission, Connections, Philadelphia, PA

initial proposal for Connections, 1981
felt tip pen on rag vellum
16 x 27 inches

final proposal for Connections, 1986
(renamed Matthias Baldwin Park)
felt tip pen on vellum
15 x 25 inches

aerial view of Connections, Matthias Baldwin Park,
June/afternoon 2009
photo courtesy of Jim Fennel

aerial view of Connections, Matthias Baldwin Park,
June/morning 2010
photo courtesy of Jim Fennel

proposal for Central America Memorial, 1983-84,
India ink and colored felt tip pens on Mylar film
40 x 50 inches

Victory Plaza, American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

Victory Plaza, 2000-01,
computer drawing on archival vellum and color crayons,
39 x 21 inches
pavement with three star-shaped fountains for the
American Airlines Center, Dallas

Available works by Athena Tacha

Press Release

Marsha Mateyka Gallery begins its spring season with an exhibition of drawings by nationally known environmental sculptor, Athena Tacha.  The exhibition includes her private drawings as well as those for her public projects.  This is the artist’s third solo exhibition at the gallery.

Athena Tacha is best known for her large scale, outdoor, site-specific, public projects. Over the last 40 years, she has been awarded and executed nearly 50 commissions for works throughout the United States.  Preparatory and final design drawings for several of these projects are on view in this exhibition.  A selection of her private drawings inspired by natural phenomena present another dimension of the artist’s work.

Athena Tacha belongs to a generation of pioneering artists that includes Robert Morris, Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt and others, who in the 1970’s “defined the form and the role of public art in relation to space and the need of its users".  The demand for retrieval and a replacement of the natural landscape within the urban fabric was a key element in the public sculptures.*  Athena Tacha’s earliest public art commission, “Streams” 1975-76, is a riverbank of cascading sandstone steps of varying sizes and elevations interspersed with pumice rocks along the Plum Creek in Martin Luther King Park in Oberlin, Ohio.

One of her major commissions of the 1980’s is “Connections“ at Franklin Town Park, a one-city block park in central Philadelphia for which she designed the pathways, curvilinear terraces, granite rock clusters and plantings.**  Both preliminary and final designs along with a recent photograph of the park, are in the current gallery exhibition. Also included are the following three large drawings related to other major commissions:

“Intervals (Homage to the Tao)” for her “Green Acres Plaza”1986-87 at the Department of Environmental Protection, Trenton, NJ.

“Syncline” for the “Curving Arcades (Homage to Bernini)” 1980-81 at the University of Arizona, Tucson

Victory Plaza” 2000-01, the final drawing for the entrance plaza at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

Three of Athena Tacha’s works can be experienced in the Washington DC area: “Hearts Beat” 2002-04, the animated LED ceiling of the walkway leading to Strathmore Performance Center in Bethesda, MD, “Stop and Go” plaza at the Morgan Station of the Metro and “Avenue of Light” and the plaza with Light Obelisk Fountain, at Wisconsin Place, 2000-2009. Preliminary drawings for the paving and fountain design for Wisconsin Place are in this exhibition.

Athena Tacha’s works have been the subject of solo museum exhibitions including the following: “Athena Tacha: Public Works, 1970-1988” at the High Museum, Atlanta, GA, “Athena Tacha: Small Wonders”, 2006 at the American University Museum, Washington DC, and “Athena Tacha, From the Pubic to the Private”, 2010, a major traveling retrospective exhibition at the Contemporary Art Center, Thessaloniki, Greece.  This retrospective, in an abridged form, will be on view at Grounds for Sculpture near Trenton, NJ this fall, opening on October 18.

The artist’s works are in the collections of many major museums including Museum of Modern Art, New York, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Albright-Knox Museum, Buffalo, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX.

*Tsiara, Syrago, ATHENA TACHA: From Public to Private, 2010, exhibition catalogue, pub. Contemporary Art Center, Thessaloniki, Greece, p.40

**This park has recently been renamed Matthias Baldwin Park.


Athena Tacha

The Washington Post, Galleries, p C8
Friday, May 10, 2013
by Mark Jenkins

A Greek-born artist who settled in Washington after a long stint in Ohio, Athena Tacha is best known as a landscape architect.  Her local projects include the plaza at Wisconsin Place, the shopping complex at Friendship Heights.  There are sketches of such schemes in Tacha’s current exhibition at Marsha Mateyka Gallery, but also works that are not directly tied to her architectural practice.  That’s why the show is called “Drawings: Private and Public, 1977-2007”.

Tacha’s landscape work often involves swooping forms and multiple terraces, motifs that can also be seen in her abstract drawings.  “ComoWaves-Light” and “ComoWaves-Dark” are both constructed from whorls that abut and sometimes overlap each other.  Each is on black paper, but where the former was drawn with silver ink, the latter uses black hot glue.  The artist’s layering of glue gives her work a painterly quality, making texture as important as color--or more so, when the piece is black-on-black.

A series of pieces on paper feature thick, shimmering orbs, sometimes suggesting close-ups of the solar surface.  While “S-Strings” is made entirely of tinseled hot glue, other works add sand or powder to the medium (which in one case is silicone rather than glue). That provides richer, more mottled hues, whether Tacha is evoking the sun or--in a piece that uses the archetypal “Greek blue”--the sky.  She also employs an airbrush to apply acrylic inks, another technique that preserves a sense of the pigment’s fluidity even after it dries.

The architectural drawings, supplemented by photographs of finished projects, range from the specific to the conceptual.  At their simplest, Tacha’s sinuous designs show a strong kinship with her abstract work.  The ”public” informs the “private” and a steady aesthetic sensibility links them both.

Available works by Athena Tacha

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