“battery223” by Gordon Wenzel Coming to Gallery 425 in September

Behind “battery 223”

Built as part of the Harbor Defense Project by the Army Corp of Engineers during the early months of the Second World War, Battery 223 served as a gun emplacement strategically located to protect the Delaware Bay from possible invasion.

Completed in 1942 and located in Cape May NJ, the bunker was once 900 feet inland, surrounded by earth and sod so that it would appear to look merely like a hill from the sea or air. Built of reinforced concrete, with roof walls 6 foot thick, it was intended to be a bulwark against tyranny, containing 4-155mm heavy artillery guns and manned by naval gunnery crews who spent hours on end scanning the horizon for enemy surface ships and submarines.

This place connects Wenzel in a very tangible way to the conflict that engulfed his grandfather who fought in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) as part of the 3rd Battalion 358 Infantry—known as the Tough ‘Ombres.  Since his passing in January 2014, Wenzel has been confronted with a history of a seldom discussed aspect of his grandfather’s life through a series of letters written during the war to his brother who he no doubt felt more comfortable disclosing his ordeal to than to his beloved wife.


The images of Battery 223 were created five months before his death and have become an ideal canvas for his hand-written sentiments that Wenzel has superimposed on the crumbling bunker walls like haunting graffiti.

Here etched into the surfaces of a fortified structure designed to defend against the same enemy forces he was fighting overseas, his thoughts echo a forgotten past hinting at deeds of valor and sacrifice in an unromanticized tone, epitomizing the feelings of many combat soldiers whose dreadful memories remain despite the erosion of the passing of time.  For example, he writes from a “foxhole somewhere in France,” under constant shelling and often remarks that he “shan’t ever be able to erase from [his] mind” what he had witnessed.  Perhaps this is why upon returning home, he never spoke of the heroic deeds that won him a Bronze Star.

At the same time, in these letters he repeatedly expresses a longing for the war to end and the peaceful comforts of home. Throughout his letters, he is always curious to learn what people back home think of the war.  And rather than dwelling on what he has experienced, he is eager to learn of his loved ones’ daily affairs, with his commentary focusing on the hope of being reunited with his family where he might someday be able to take his son (my father) to a carnival.  Here too can be discerned the depravation of the march by his repeated reference and request of comfort food.

But his sentiments transcend the individual and remind us that although freedom is often forged from conflict, the sacrifice is anything but abstract; rather it is very personal because the marks, scars and PTSD always remain.  Moreover, what is revealed here is difficult for Wenzel to reconcile with the peace-loving, kind and generous man who was his hero through life.

Finally, as this concrete bunker quite literally is being swallowed up by the sands of time, these images serve as a monument to the futility of the fact that history only repeats itself.  While human tragedy is often self-inflicted, no one should ever have to endure such unspeakable horrors.

About the Artist

Photographer Gordon R. Wenzel has had his work published and exhibited throughout the United States and Canada.   He currently serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Art Department of Susquehanna University teaching four credited photography courses.


Last year, Wenzel’s work was exhibited at both the Art Association of Harrisburg and the Blough Weis Library at Susquehanna University.   In 2012, his series “globanomics” was featured in the Invitational Exhibition at the Art Association of Harrisburg.  Wenzel was selected as the featured artist for the 2011 Lewisburg Arts Festival.  And in 2009, Wenzel’s photography was exhibited in Susquehanna University’s Lore Degenstein Gallery in the show Transformations.  In addition, a piece from the series Destiny Manifest was selected for the juried show Images 2009 at Penn State University’s Robeson Gallery and was awarded Honorable Mention.  In June 2010, Wenzel collaborated with artists Marshall Harris and Chad Andrews to create an audio-visual installation­­­ piece in Williamsport entitled “Industriata.”  Also in 2010, Wenzel’s series cArt 37 was exhibited in Williamsport’s Pajama Factory show “Photographers at Work.”

His work appeared in the book Photos that Inspire, published by Photoworkshop and found in bookstores across the country.  In 2005, one of the images from the series Destiny Manifest, was featured in Direct Art magazine in connection with an exhibit at the Limnar Gallery in New York City.  In 2002, Polaroid Inc. feature Wenzel’s work in the anniversary edition of P Magazine—which was the corporation’s international showcase of creative uses of their films, published in five languages and sent to 50,000 professionals, creative and art directors worldwide.

Wenzel’s work was shown at Toronto’s Gallery Arcturus in conjunction with the 2007 Contact International Photography Festival.  This was his third exhibition in Toronto for the Contact Festivals.  In 2002 his series gyroKinetic and in 1999 Spatial Relationships were exhibited in Toronto galleries.  In 2004, Wenzel received First Place Award for Gridlock in the 76th Juried Exhibition of the Art Association of Harrisburg.

His work is included in the permanent collections of both the Lore Degenstein Gallery, Selinsgrove PA and the Sherman Hines Museum of Photography, Liverpool, Nova Scotia.   His images from the series globanomics were recently purchased as a part of a permanent art installation in the new Susquehanna Health tower at the Williamsport Regional Medical Center.

Gordon R. Wenzel holds a Masters of Photography degree from the Professional Photographers of America.  He is owner of Impressions Photographic Studio + Gallery in Lewisburg specializing in commercial, advertising and annual report photography for the region’s largest corporations.

Holly Patton Shull “Sight Unseen” Coming to Gallery 425 in August

A letter from the artist:

I knew from the time that I was twelve years old when I walked into my uncle’s painting studio, that I loved oils. I did not have the courage to pick up the brush until my early forties and have not been able to put it down since. Maybe I had to wait that long before I had something to say that suited this very old art form. People often ask what I like to paint. I am driven to paint of humanity…the human condition. the face, the body, emotions and spirituality. It turns me on to explore, through the beautiful colors, what goes on around and inside of us. I surrender to each new painting completely —the mystical process never ceases to amaze and thrill me.

I grew up in an artistic family. My father was an animator for Disney and Warner Brothers in the late 30’s and 40’s. His oldest brother, Bernard, was the painter. My sister, Deane Patton, is an amazing illustrator and photographer. And I have a cousin, Jenieve, in St. Petersburg who is also a painter. I was primarily an illustrator until my first oil painting. I moved my studio from my home to the Pajama Factory in 2012. Beginning in October, I will be painting and promoting my artwork full time!

The Stairwell

I am honored to be asked by Judy and Stu to represent the woman artist for Gallery 425, August 2016 First Friday. For this exhibit, the Olinsky’s asked that I bring paintings that had not been shown in the area. I have gathered back a few favorite commissions, some recent works not seen outside my studio, and have also painted seven new paintings specifically for this gallery and space that is dedicated to women artists. For the most part my new paintings focus on the marginalized—that, of course, includes the feminine. I am a woman’s woman—meaning, I need my girls and they need me. I come from a long line of strong women. I have two sisters—one child, my daughter, Cydne, and her child, Asta, my granddaughter. I have an exceptional circle of women that nourish my heart and soul daily. We all fight for justice, peace and endeavor to live the purposeful life, along with our loving brothers, in sustaining and nurturing our mother Earth. I hope this collection provokes some feelings for the viewer, somehow—if so, I will consider it a success.

David Moyer: The Naturalist @ Gallery 425

Opens First Friday, July 1st @ 6pm

Naturalist 1 Drawing copy.jpg

Moyer started his graduate work at the Maryland Institute College of Art, majoring in ceramics. He then began working in the printmaking studio making intaglio etchings and drypoints. Since that time, he steered away from ceramics, and has since worked exclusively in printmaking. In 1988, he and his wife Gretchen began a small press, Red Howler Press, to print hand made, limited edition books.

Moyer’s imagery explores visual and literary ideas through drawings, black and white print media, usually wood engraving, though sometimes using intaglio processes lithography. All of his projects start out as drawings, and sometimes the drawings are the final form of the work.

There is a long tradition of wood engraving and the book arts, and it seemed quite natural for Moyer to follow that path. Throughout his career as an artist, he has gravitated toward the German print tradition and holds a particular fondness for the work of Durer, Wolgemuth, Cranach, Holbein, and Baldung-Grien. All of the books from Red Howler Press carry a message, sometimes serious and other times playful, but it is mostly the visual imagery which is the primary mover of the press works.

Pictured Above:  “The Piscophilist”

Judy & Stu Olinsky Welcomes Paul Barrett to Gallery 425!!

The Photography of Paul Barrett

This collection, opening for First Friday in June (June 3rd), showcases Paul’s passion for fine art photography. Paul enjoys taking lots of different types of photographs, however, most of his work is in landscapes/nature photography from unusual locations around the state, in all seasons.

Paul, a Scranton Native, currently resides in Hugesville, PA, where he has taught Art & Photography for 36 years. In his spare time, Paul also teaches adult photography classes at the high school and works as a photographer for WBL Magazine. Paul’s work has won him several ribbons in various local photography contests.

Paul creates unusual effects using Photoshop, believing Photography is looking at one thing, but seeing something else and capturing it to show others. He is always on the lookout for interesting pictures, never knowing where that perfect picture will be.

FB Old Homestead
Photo courtesy of Paul Barrett


Joanne Landis: Prophetic Gestures

Opens First Friday: May 6th, 2016 @ 6pm

Join Gallery 425 in welcoming New York City Native, Joanne Landis, to her opening of Prophetic Gestures this First Friday, May 6th, 2016. Experience how a poet, turned fashion illustrator, turned painter tells a story across each canvass. Immerse yourself with her figures in motion, adorned with bold strokes and saturated colors.


“I am a story teller – a narrative painter. My figures, mostly women, are often meditations on archetypes, myth or personal experience. This allows me to build an environment inhabited by beings with all that it means to be human, alive and still in a dream.”

                                                                                                          -Joanne Landis


My paintings develop much like dreams. They alter and grow in ways I cannot imagine when I begin. For example: A painting I did recently called, “How Women Become Birds”, started with three figures of women in a line. I had been looking at photographs of tribal peoples in ritual dance. I painted the figures with very bold, simplified outlines, wanting to keep them “primitive”. The bold lines were necessary because I was painting over another painting that I had completed, but did not like. I often do this; each painting is typically three or four layers deep. The bold contours help me to “separate” from the previous layers. I then start to block in color. I wanted the figures to look the same – the same kind of eyes the same kind of hair, although their gestures were slightly different. I think to myself, “They are walking or dancing’, or, perhaps. it’s one woman moving in time across the canvas. I decide that although I have given them yellow hair, it’s cropped in such a way that they seem Egyptian. They become Egyptian. I want to give them circular necklaces – something that makes them “not naked.”

As I am painting across their bodies, the lines start to look like a shawl. I look at the figures. There’s an airy sense about them. They are in “no-space”, but a bit of a shape from the previous painting appears as “ground”. The figure on the right is leaving the canvas – leaving that ground. I decide she’s entering another plane and she’s about to leap off this plane. They all are lined-up to leap and I realize they will go into the air and then into the unknown. The shawl of the woman on the left I now see as feathers. They all will have feathers or wings about them. They will all take this leap to fly and become birds. All of this happened over the course of many days of painting.

After I have resolved this “story” (which is critical to me, for the painting to be successful) a day or two later,  I read Carl Jung. Coincidentally, he is talking about various ancient cultures that believed the soul becomes “feathered” (Babylonian?). Also, in another passage, he spoke of birds being an omen of death. This confirmed the intuitive process for me. The women leave this plane – they die – become birds and live in spirit.

I try to use the plane of “life in the body”, my knowledge of my own body; the female form as it exists in the world and how it also transcends this world. The paintings are then personal meditations on my own life, myth, and my reach toward universal archetypes. If my reach is successful the story will be accessible and usable to all who view it.



Photos courtesy of Joanne Landis