Mary Polon: Unknown Master of the Abstract

July 8th, 2014 Pound Ridge, N.Y. – As an outlier of the popular New York School of the1950s and 1960s, Painter Mary Polon’s vast inventory exists as a chronicle to the permutations of art that agitated toward the edge of representation and abstraction during the last half of the 20th century. For those thirsty to rediscover works from bygone generations of abstract expressionists and neo-expressionists, Polon’s work could be a revelation.

Twenty-one of Polon’s works in oil will be shown for the first time at the Lionheart Gallery during a special ten day exhibition, from July 17th to July 27th, 2014, with an opening reception at the gallery on Thursday July 17th from 6 to 8 p.m.

“My mother never cared to show her work,” Glass, also an artist, says. “She’d say, “all I want to do is paint.” And, in the kitchen of the one bedroom apartment in Long Beach, N.Y. that she inhabited for decades after divorcing Glass’ father in the late 1950s, paint she did. Whenever Glass visited, she found Polon at her easel, listening to opera on the radio.

“What I was seeing was a very passionate artist,” Glass says. “I think painting was her salvation.”

Polon took up painting in the years leading up to her divorce, studying at both the School of Visual Arts (SVA) and The Art Students’ League in New York City.

Polon was stillborn to a Polish baker and his wife in 1917, on Hester Street in New York’s Lower East Side. According to Glass, Polon’s father lit a cigarette and blew smoke into Polon’s infant mouth. She began to cough. She was alive. Polon remembers her father in “Papa’s Bakery.”

Polon lived her life as it began, gasping for more air, starved for love and passion, and, at the Metropolitan Opera, Polon found the passion she was looking for. She met the man that would come to be her great love, and the man that, in old age, would break her heart. After a torrid, 30-year affair, Polon’s lover left New York, and Polon, behind. A piece from 1962, entitled “Our Room,” depicts the two lovers with hard lines and a blurred embrace in a warm bed near the window. The piece recalls the broad strokes of Willem de Kooning.

“She was happy that she experienced that kind of love,” Glass said. Though the loss of her lover would be an “insurmountable loss,” Polon always maintained that she had his love in her, and that he gave her the greatest happiness she ever knew.

In her work, Polon relived her finest moments. She died after being evacuated from her nursing home during Hurricane Sandy. She was 96. When she died, Polon left over 100 paintings.

 

 

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