Mural commission from 2013, NYC, Choose to Believe or Not to Believe
Excerpt from Seattle Times Review:
"No less intriguing is the way these words are superimposed on the landscapes. In the best work here, Wardwell uses a sophisticated stenciling technique. He paints the landscape, masks off the areas that he wants to keep visible, and then he overpaints the entire canvas. Another artist might have been content with this overpainting as a sort of extreme abstraction, but once the paint is dry Wardwell peels off the areas that he had masked over to reveal the letter-shaped areas of landscape that spell out his chosen phrase.
In fact, in these enormously sophisticated pictures, Joe Wardwell presents three quite different things at the same time: landscape painting, rock lyrics and brushy abstraction. The extent to which these three elements interconnect in any one painting varies, but to Wardwell they have this in common — they are all important components of the contemporary American artistic identity. For each of us, their relative significance will be different, but the fact that Wardwell permits us to conjure with their various and parallel meanings all at the same time is the basis of his art’s palpable success."
Seattle Times, 4/26/2013
Seattle Times Review