Chestnut Hill’s Woodmere Art Museum’s latest exhibit, “Quita Brodhead: Bold Strokes,” opened Feb. 8 and is scheduled to run until June 1. It showcases nearly 60 pieces of work spanning Brodhead’s eight-decade career.
The exhibit will also be making its mark on the upcoming Philadelphia Flower Show. This year’s show will feature a 10-acre “living canvas” that will include a display inspired by the Woodmere’s Brodhead exhibit.
Born in 1901 to an affluent family on the Main Line, Brodhead’s abstract style and bold use of color challenged the behaviors expected of a female artist growing up in an affluent, conservative community.
Beginning with figure drawings and portraits from her early years at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (PAFA) and ending with the whimsical abstract painting, “Whence and Where To,” the exhibition depicts the dramatic evolution of an artist.
“Quita is an artist I came to know when I arrived at Woodmere around three and a half years ago,” said William R. Valerio, director and CEO of Woodmere.
“Her works in our [permanent] collection were interesting and intriguing to me and I wanted to understand them more. Then I came to know her story and I thought ‘Gee, here is a woman artist who is not just driven to make art but is very much a pioneer of her time by making a kind of art that interacts at the most sophisticated level with things happening in the art world of France, Rome, Spain and New York.'”
In conjunction with “Quita Brodhead: Bold Strokes,” a second exhibition, “Women and Biography” will also be running in Woodmere’s adjacent gallery from Feb. 8 to June 1. This exhibition showcases a collection of Woodmere’s strongest female artists and their depictions of themselves, their families and their individual places in society.
With works from the 19th century’s Mary Cassat to modern-day’s Catherine Mulligan, “Women and Biography” voices women’s expression through art over time.
“What we try to do with an exhibition like “Women and Biography” is to obtain a better understanding of the paintings in our collection,” said Valerio. “The exhibition serves as an opportunity to interpret and understand the context around both our paintings and our painters.”