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The Barnes Foundation and Mural Arts Philadelphia Announce Four Philadelphia Artists Selected for Let’s Connect Residencies

June 13, 2018

Plus, Top 20 Artists & Directors' Highlight #letsconnectphilly

Philadelphia, PA—The Barnes Foundation and Mural Arts Philadelphia have announced the four artists selected to participate in three-month residencies at the Mural Arts Studio at the Barnes as part of Let's Connect, a new participatory project engaging Philadelphia's art community. Selected by a combined public and curatorial vote, the four artists, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Eric Goldberg, West Philadelphia
  • Maryann Held, Kensington
  • Delia King, Southwest Philadelphia
  • Jonathan D. Pinkett, South Philadelphia

In addition to the top four selected for residencies, organizers have released the names of the top 20 artists, also in alphabetical order. One artist of the top 20 has been selected as a Directors' Highlight by Thom Collins, executive director and president of the Barnes, and Jane Golden, executive director of Mural Arts Philadelphia. To further extend community engagement, the top 20 artists—listed below—will be invited to participate in panel discussions and other public programs in an effort to highlight their work and voices at the Barnes throughout the year. The Directors' Highlight, Leroy Johnson of Francisville, will also receive a three-month residency in the Mural Arts Studio at the Barnes.

During Let's Connect, the Barnes and Mural Arts invited artists living or working in Philadelphia to create a new 8-by-10-inch work inspired by a painting or object in the Barnes collection. 310 artists submitted their collection-inspired work for a public display at the Barnes, which was on view May 21–June 4, 2018, as the Let's Connect exhibition. The public was invited to register in advance to visit the exhibition free of charge to cast their ballot. In addition to the public vote, a team of more than 90 curators from the greater Philadelphia area also weighed in. On each ballot, visitors and curators were asked to select at least three works, and were free to select as many as they liked. Signaling a high level of engagement and interest, visitors selected 9.72 works on average.

In total, more than 3,500 visitors viewed the Let's Connect exhibition during its two-week run. A total of 2,226 ballots were submitted and 21,658 votes cast; 1,198 visitors registered in advance and were able to visit the display and the Barnes collection without charge to cast their vote. Of the visitors surveyed, 67 percent reported they were engaged or newly engaged with the Barnes as part of Let's Connect; 39 percent were first-time visitors to the Barnes; and 27 percent had not visited within the last two years.

"The response from the city's artistic communities for Let's Connect was tremendous, and it has been fascinating to see the many creative responses to the collection," says Collins. "With Let's Connect, we are proud to be connecting and celebrating the Philadelphia community—including the more than 300 artists who submitted their work, the many visitors and curators who cast their votes, and the artists we will welcome to the Barnes for residencies and panel discussions over the next year."

"Supporting local artists has always been vital to Mural Arts' mission, and we are thrilled to partner with the Barnes to provide this exciting opportunity for five talented, up-and-coming Philadelphia artists and to engage such a large portion of the city's cultural community in the selection process," says Golden. "We invite the public to follow the progress of Let's Connect throughout the next year by visiting the winning artists during their residencies at the Mural Arts Studio at the Barnes and attending public programs featuring the top 20 artists."


(Listed in alphabetical order)

Eric Goldberg, West Philadelphia

Bio: Goldberg was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He studied at Parsons School of Design, The New School for Social Research, New York University, and New Mexico University. He taught painting, printmaking, and drawing at colleges and universities for over 30 years. He retired as the chair of an art department in a Connecticut state college in 2003 and has since worked full-time in the studio. Goldberg's prints and paintings have been extensively exhibited in the US and abroad. His work is held by many private, corporate, and public collections. Most recently, a number of his works have been added to the collections of the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts the Sakima Art Museum, Okinawa, Japan; Syracuse University; and the Boston Athenaeum.

Artist Statement: "My imagination is fueled by the world around me, by places and people, and the thoughts and feelings they evoke. I make images that express these concepts and emotions. I want my images to convey both the natural world and deeper truths, which are wordless and need to be expressed through metaphor.

Drawing is the method in which my image making begins and through which it evolves. Whether the source of the work is from direct observation, a photo I have taken, or from my imagination, it is always initially expressed as a drawing. Ultimately, the work may become an etching or a painting, but at its core is always drawing. Drawing has a tactile directness that connects the mind and the hand. It is a two-way connection where the drawing evokes thought and thought evokes drawing. An unintentional gesture of the hand can change the concept in a direction that the mind alone would not have traveled."

Maryann Held, Kensington

Bio: Held is a Philadelphia-based children's book illustrator who has been working professionally for over ten years. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Held attended the University of the Arts. After living in Brooklyn for several years, Maryann returned to Philadelphia to work as assistant illustrator for the Berenstain Bears. Held now works full-time as a freelance illustrator, where she pursues her passion for classic children's illustration.

Artist Statement: "This is a response to Karl Priebe's bizarrely beautiful painting, Miss Chalfont. I was immediately struck by this odd little piece. There are elements of the surreal: the out of place sequined hat placed jauntily on her head, the mysterious band clasped delicately between her fingers, the two starlings perched beside her, and the strange, somewhat foreboding mountains jutting up from the landscape far in the distance. I chose to re-imagine Miss Chalfont in my own illustrative style, amplifying her beautiful skin with its subtle blue undertones, her precisely posed hands, and her bemused expression—echoing the entrancement I felt when looking on Priebe's work. Many of the pieces in the Barnes collection are examples of outsider or folk art, an aesthetic that Miss Chalfont certainly embodies. My response reflects my own interest in folk art motifs and design. In place of the barren olive-green plain, Chalfont is now surrounded by a vibrant, yet dark, swirl of leaves and flowers. It is a melding of the surreal and the traditional. Gazing back at you, Chalfont is prompting you to ask: what exactly is going on here?"

Delia King, Southwest Philadelphia

Bio: King is a reverse glass painter and muralist living in Southwest Philadelphia. She attended St. John's College in Santa Fe and holds a BA in the humanities from Thomas Edison State College in Trenton. Her art background is in experience and practice. She recently took a four-year hiatus from art to focus on mental health recovery. She was diagnosed with PTSD related to a sexual assault in 2014. She was recently declared well by Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR). This is her first painting in years.

Artist Statement: "#ganggang_put_spider_chris_yeow_e_haas is a two-layer reverse glass painting. It depicts men on the block 'biddn.' 'Biddn' is like a 'roast' where you crack jokes at the expense of others, with the winner being the one who leaves his opponent with nothing left to say as everyone laughs. The original Picasso painting Group of Catalans in Montmartre: Pichot, Mañach, Casagemas, Brossa, Picasso, and Gener reminded me of the men I knew, the women volunteered for the picture, but I was stuck by how the painting was about men as a group, standing together, wearing their fresh clothes, 'biddn,' and so the painting appreciates men. I was also inspired by the hardware on the walls and wanted to include pattern into the painting surface of the piece to highlight the men's complexities and to draw the viewer into a deeper experience."

Jonathan D. Pinkett, South Philadelphia

Bio: Pinkett was born in 1949 in Philadelphia. He studied filmmaking at the Philadelphia College of Art and drawing and painting at the Grand Central Atelier in New York. His mentors include Colleen Barry and Jacob Collins. His work represents an effort to deconstruct the diverse world around him. He uses a variety of materials and processes in each project that relate to specific themes or personalities. As he absorbs and redirects the energy of his subjects, the portraits he paints are, in essence, self-portraits. As an artist, he seeks to immerse himself in the conditions around him, not escape them. His influences are Colleen Barry, Jacob Collins, Romare Bearden, Charles White, and John Singer Sargent. His works are included in public, private, and corporate collections.

Artist Statement: "My selection for the Let's Connect project was Frans Hals. My attraction to Hals is focused on his baroque style and because there are not that many 'realistic' portraits in the Barnes collection. As a golden age painter, Hals was famous for his loose, painterly brush work. I wouldn't describe my brush work as loose, but I do consider it to be organic. The piece I am submitting of my friend Karee is painted from life. I chose Karee as my model because I wanted my painting to reflect the image of an African American. And to pay homage to the frequent appearance of African images in Dutch Art and to stimulate some reflection about Dr. Barnes's historical effort to uplift the dignity of African-Americans."


Leroy Johnson, Francisville

Bio: Leroy Johnson (b. 1937) is a mixed-media artist whose work takes the form of painting, collage, and assemblage sculpture. A native of Philadelphia, his work is poetic and reflective of his many experiences in the inner city. Johnson has exhibited widely, with past solo shows at Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, Tirza Yalon Kolton Ceramic Gallery (Tel Aviv), Gloucester County College (Sewell, NJ), and the Camden County Historical Society. He has received grants from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Independence Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Johnson received a Masters of Human Services from Lincoln University (1986-88), and was a 2014 Pew Fellow at the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. He has been a participating/resident artist for several community-based arts projects, including for Ile Ife, The Village of Arts and Humanities, Taller Puertoqueno, and The Church of the Advocate, St. Francis Academy, in Baltimore. Most recently, he was selected for the Woodmere Annual: 77th Juried Exhibition at the Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA, in spring 2018; was included in the two-person exhibition "#WE HAVE NO PRESIDENT" (with Sara McEaney) at Marginal Utility, Philadelphia, PA; and was the inaugural resident artist at Art Barn in Amaranth, Amaranth, PA in 2017.

Artist Statement: "Viewing and 'feeling' the paintings of Horace Pippin, specifically in this case Giving Thanks, evokes the memories I have of my childhood home: a large kitchen with wooden floors, a huge black cast ironwood burning stove on which my mother cooked and heated that heavy solid iron she used for pressing our clothes. There was a large kitchen table around which the adults in my extended family ate their meals, read newspapers, and discussed current events and politics. Like Pippin's kitchen, my childhood home was filled with handcrafted items: quilts, blankets, rugs, crocheted and knitted doilies, clothing and the like. Horace Pippin's paintings in the Barnes collection illustrate for me the descriptions and stories told to me by my grandmother—who was born in the 1890s—about her childhood. I see in the composition and palette of Pippin a striving for harmony and security. Building a wall from which he can be an observer and recorder, simultaneously exposing his vulnerability and sensitivity to the viewer's gaze. A desire and need forged in migration, war, and existence in a nation where terrorism still confronted African-Americans."


July 1, 2018September 30, 2019

The four selected artists, plus the Directors' Highlight artist, will participate in three-month residencies at the Mural Arts Studio at the Barnes. This small building, located on the Barnes campus just off 20th Street, has become a place for art activations. The artists will each receive a $3,000 stipend. They will use the space as a working studio and will host open studio hours to connect with the community. Residencies will begin July 1, 2018, and run through September 30, 2019. The schedule is listed below:

July–September 2018: Maryann Held
October–December 2018: Delia King
January–March 2019: Eric Goldberg
April–June 2019: Jonathan D. Pinkett
July–September 2019: Leroy Johnson

(Listed in alphabetical order)
Afaq, Northeast Philadelphia
Tim Barton, Passyunk Square
Annabelle Buck, Point Breeze
Paul Castellana, Germantown
Diane Collins, Mount Airy
Eric Goldberg, West Philadelphia
Maryann Held, Kensington
Leroy Johnson, Francisville
Delia King, Southwest Philadelphia
Kelly McQuain, Bella Vista
Danielle Morris, West Philadelphia
Jonathan D. Pinkett, South Philadelphia
DeJeonge Reese, Museum District
Lauren Rinaldi, Fishtown
Nancy Shell, Northeast Philadelphia
Rachel Stern, Kensington
Patricia Renee Thomas, North Philadelphia
Shari Tobias, University City
Kimberly A. Torres, North Philadelphia
Elmi L. Ventura Mata, Port Richmond


The project is organized by Shelley Bernstein, deputy director for audience engagement and chief experience officer at the Barnes Foundation, and by Mural Arts Philadelphia.


Mural Arts Philadelphia is the nation's largest public art program, dedicated to the belief that art ignites change. For over 30 years, Mural Arts has united artists and communities through a collaborative and equitable process, creating nearly 4,000 artworks that have transformed public spaces and individual lives. Mural Arts aims to empower people, stimulate dialogue, and build bridges to understanding with projects that attract artists from Philadelphia and around the world, and programs that focus on youth education, restorative justice, mental health and wellness, and public art and its preservation. Popular mural tours offer a firsthand glimpse into the inspiring stories behind Mural Arts' iconic and unparalleled collection, which has earned Philadelphia worldwide recognition as the "City of Murals." For more information, call 215.685.0750 or visit Follow on social media: @muralarts on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, MuralArtsPhiladelphia on Facebook, and phillymuralarts on YouTube.


The Barnes Foundation is a non-profit cultural and educational institution that shares its unparalleled art collection with the public, organizes special exhibitions, and presents programming that fosters new ways of thinking about human creativity. The Barnes collection is displayed in ensembles that integrate art and objects from across cultures and time periods, overturning traditional hierarchies and revealing universal elements of human expression. Home to one of the world's finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modern paintings—including the largest groups of paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Paul Cézanne in existence—the Barnes brings together renowned masterworks by such artists as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, and Vincent van Gogh, alongside ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and non-Western art as well as metalwork, furniture, and decorative art.

The Barnes Foundation was established by Dr. Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to "promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture." Since moving to the heart of Philadelphia in 2012, the Barnes has expanded its commitment to teaching visual literacy in groundbreaking ways, investing in original scholarship relating to its collection and enhancing accessibility throughout every facet of its program.

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