“I think the most interesting thing about painting is the paint itself,” says Manhattan-based artist Edie Nadelhaft. “I find the actual substance, the sort of beauty of paint itself and the act of painting, the physical expression, have a profound potency that resonates for me.”
Having previously gone to school to study art history, humanities, and painting, Nadelhaft returned to school again in the `90s. “I felt I still had stuff to learn,” she says. “I believe you always have stuff to learn.” She went to the Massachusetts School of Art to study web design. “It was a better idea than I knew at the time,” says Nadelhaft. She has been able to support herself as a web designer crafting logos online and designing websites for diverse array of clients, from pharmaceutical companies to indie rock bands. “It’s very quick and dirty,” she says of web design. “What you see is what you get.” She took up web design as a creative part-time gig for money so she could continue with her first love, painting. “I do [my art] for me,” says Nadelhaft. “But there is no guarantee someone will pay you for that.”
Cows caught her eye while visiting her in-laws’ dairy farm in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Nadelhaft ended up really close to the cows and admired the curiosity of the animal. “I went inside the barn,” she says. “I’ll tell you, if you’ve never been two inches from a cow, it’s quite an experience.” She enjoys taking something common, an overfamiliar image or representation, and placing it in a different setting. “I’m always very excited about the second impression,” says Nadelhaft, using a cow as an example. “If you look past your first response to it, it’s like wow, that sort of wonder. Taking something out of its expected context and seeing it new for the first time.” She has been painting cows for a few years now, in part because she finds them to be so funny. Humor plays a big role in Nadelhaft’s art, and her show at Pearldaddy in Beacon this month features many odd and offbeat images of flies, pills (The Best Medicine II, an eight-foot-high replica of a prescription pill inscribed with “Sweet!” on its face is at once guffaw-inducing and a caustic critique), teeth biting into cherries, and of course, many pensive bovine portraits.
As part of her artistic process, Nadelhaft takes motorcycle trips to farms in the Hudson Valley to photograph cows. She employs no found images in her work, only photographs she has taken. While vacationing in Las Vegas a few years ago, Nadelhaft took a motorcycle ride to Monument Valley, where she shot the picture for Blue in Utah. The color grid in the bottom corner is a web color palette, an example of her commercial work influencing her fine art.
“The Best Medicine: Paintings and Sculptures by Edie Nadelhaft” will be exhibited at Pearldaddy on 183 Main Street in Beacon through July 6. (845) 765-0169; www.pearldaddy.net. Portfolio: www.edienadelhaft.com.