Click here to see the article, "No Babes on Sheets," by Courtney Joran from February 2012 issue of American Artist

"Allegorical oils from Philadelphia's Martha Mayer Erlebacher"

by Victoria Donahoe
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Oct. 8, 2010

Martha Mayer Erlebacher, "Air, Childhood", 2004, oil on canvas, 64" x 64"

Martha Mayer Erlebacher, in her Seraphin Gallery show "The Cycle of Life," is a shining example of today's nationally revitalized figurative impulse giving rise to formidable painting. The finest representational painting now seems to be done by artists who have totally rejected the notion of vanguard and prefer to seek inspiration in developments of past centuries, taking into account the heritage that launched them.

The centerpiece of this show of 18 works is a group of four large allegorical oil paintings, full of clarity and ambition. In these - perhaps Erlebacher's most powerful work to date - the surprising thing is that she isn't pulling us into her world; instead, she is insisting we closely examine our own. Concerned with life itself - childhood, youth, adulthood, and old age - the paintings are moving, restlessly inventive, and life-affirming.

The allegorical episodes are meant to focus the mind on themes we're not used to encountering in art. There is taut lyricism in the first, a joyful painting of children interacting with doves, and a strong, almost colloquial "voice" of the artist's Elkins Park neighbors, some of whom posed for the other three of these masterly large works. There's meticulous, virtuoso craft and a naturalist's energy along with sensuous handling of paint here. Subjects always are portrayed from direct observation.

Erlebacher's "Cycle of Life" and related pieces celebrate the mind's aspiration to a deeper understanding of its own mysteries throughout all of life. The artist, a frequent exhibitor at galleries in New York, Chicago, and up and down the West Coast, introduces these recent major works for her hometown audience to savor.



Seraphin Gallery  l  Contemporary Philadelphia Art Gallery and Art Consultant 
1108 Pine St.  l  215-923-7000  l