Lorraine Peltz’s paintings are complex ruminations on the nature of private identity and public persona. With imagery culled from both personal history and the contemporary moment, they reference both past and present. The chandelier, a memory from her childhood home, is repeatedly employed in this body of work, as both a symbol memorializing her mother and nostalgically evoking a remembered culture. In bold contrast to her delicately painted or stenciled chandeliers, Peltz depicts elaborate and brightly hued flowers, starbursts, and other decoratively patterned embellishments that create a dialogue with her ofte dark velvety grounds. Culled from popular culture, these reference the contemporary moment, and, when placed alongside the chandelier, poignantly bring the past and present together. Peltz joins diverse painting languages-
recognizable imagery, signs and symbols, and painterly abstraction-to mimic how information comes to us and how meaning is composed, bit by bit, real life alongside memory, poetry next to prose, in order to suggest larger issues surrounding identity and place. Her works become dreamscapes of both the exterior world and an interior space of fantasy, desire, and memory.
In addition to being a title of a work in the exhibition, Then & Now refers to Peltz’s interest in and engagement with art history, specifically mid 20th century modernism and the Pattern and Decorative movement of the 1970’s, as well as with contemporary strategies of appropriating imagery from vernacular sources. In a recent essay on Peltz, Lisa Wainwright, Dean of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, noted: “Both of nature and from culture, her icons speak to the polemic between essentialism and social construction that still grips feminist discourse. They are a mix of aesthetic delight and conceptual reading.”