September 11, 2009

Painter Anna Pagnucci mixes real, abstract in new show at Racine's Northern Lights Gallery

When Anna Pagnucci received a commission for paintings of a village in Europe, the local artist had to adjust her abstract style to create a sense of place.

The adjustment resonated with Pagnucci and guided to an impressive series of oil and enamel paintings now on display at the Northern Lights Gallery, 423 Main St., in Downtown Racine.

"It moved me in a whole new direction," Pagnucci said about the commission.

Northern Lights is putting up nine of Pagnucci's paintings for sale and hosting a reception for the artist on Saturday from 2-7 p.m. The paintings center around representational elements amidst abstract scenery.

Pagnucci (right) said the paintings were intended to give viewers a starting point, like a row of houses, and then an invitation to wander among the abstract elements. "Hopefully it reminds people of something," she said. "It gives you something to see representationally and then allows you to connect through your memory and other levels of perceptions."

Here are some examples from the show:

Anna Pagnucci, "Dock Workers" 24x30” oil and enamel on panel, 2009

Anna Pagnucci, "Shadowed Alley" 37x35” enamel on canvas, 2009
(Based on an alley in Racine)

Pagnucci's showing at Northern Lights is her first solo show in Racine. She went to undergrad at UW-Platteville, earned a master's degree in art history from UW-Milwaukee and a Masters in Fine Arts from the Academy of Art University. She's now an instructor at Marian University in Fond du Lac and teaches classes at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Shelives in Caledonia with her husband, Ryan, and their two daughters. (You can see more of her works at Portal Wisconsin.)

Pagnucci grew up with artistic influences. Her father was a poet and her mother is a professional puppeteer. Both encouraged her artwork and in high school she was winning awards and getting shows. As an adult, she's had shows in Chicago and northern Wisconsin, and recently had a piece at the Wustum Art Museum for the Racine and Vicinity Show.

Pam Viroglio, co-owner of the Northern Lights Gallery with her husband Jack, said Pagnucci's paintings had a unique quality that jumped out at her.

"Her use of colors is fantastic," Viroglio said. "There's an originality to them. She uses oils, but not in a way I've seen."

The Viroglios met Pagnucci when she stopped in the gallery during a Downtown event. They asked to see Pagnucci's work and were impressed enough to build a show around the paintings. Pam added they liked Pagnucci because, in addition to being a talented artist, she's a nice person.

"That's a requirement for showing in our gallery," she said.

A reception for Anna Pagnucci's work will be held Saturday, Sept. 12 from 2-7 p.m. at Northern Lights Gallery, 423 Main St. in Downtown Racine. Music during the reception will be provided by The Dog's Breakfast, a group of UW-Parkside music students led by Brad Karas.

Here's two more of Pagnucci's paintings that will be on display:

Anna Pagnucci, "Over the Water," 48x72” enamel on canvas 2009

Anna Pagnucci, "The Road from Town" 36x36” enamel on canvas, 2009