EXHIBITIONS CURATED BY OR ACCOMPANIED BY ESSAYS BY ALAN ROSENBERG

FRITZ BULTMAN / REGINA SCULLY: NEW ORLEANS, NEW YORK AND BEYOND, OCTOBER 2019, Octavia Art Gallery, essay by Alan Rosenberg

Octavia Art Gallery, one of New Orleans’ most respected contemporary art venues, is taking up temporary residence in New York in October 2019 with a visually stunning pairing of artists Fritz Bultman and Regina Scully. Bultman is recognized as the most important mid 20th century abstract expressionist to come from New Orleans; Scully is the most notable abstract painter to emerge from New Orleans in recent years. The exhibition runs from October 9th to October 30th at High Line Nine, the exquisitely designed assembly of art viewing spaces at 507 West 27th Street, directly under the High Line park.

Both artists’ works are bold in spectrum and structure and both could even be described as high-risk painters, pushing themselves and their canvases in experimental directions, resulting in paintings that are fantastically beautiful while strictly avoiding mere prettiness of color and design. 

Overlapping external and internal influences have played a part in both artists’ development. Fritz Bultman (1919-1985) grew up in an outstandingly sophisticated and eccentric family in a grand 19th century house that adjoined the Bultman family’s funeral business and was graced by a fantastic glassed-in wintergarden. A similar Southern Gothic manse played a part in Scully’s upbringing: the turn-of-the-century Greene-Marston house in Mobile, Alabama, affectionately if ominously known as Termite Hall, which remains in the family. The physical and psychological process of painting that Bultman himself described applies strikingly to Scully’s painting journeys as well: “It is the experience of transmutation, of growth and decline, of illumination, that the process of painting contains—only by going through this process, by losing one’s way, by mess, by total chaos, of one’s own making, come unexpected results that one cannot anticipate in any other way.”

Fritz Bultman studied painting with Hans Hoffmann and was described by Robert Motherwell as “one of the most splendid, radiant and inspired painters of my generation.” He maintained close ties to New Orleans but spent most of his adult life immersed in the artistic worlds of New York and Provincetown. Regina Scully received her BFA in Painting from Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA from University of New Orleans. In 2017, Scully had a solo exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art which paired her work with examples from the museum’s distinguished collection of Japanese Nanga paintings. She was a recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant Award in 2017.
 

Gallery-goers will want to take advantage of this unique opportunity to see the work of Bultman and Scully, two remarkably unusual painting talents linked by both their rare gifts and their connection to New Orleans, a city of exceptional allure.