Different Views: Bronx Paintings by William P. Folchi and John Folchi

On View October 4, 2015–January 31, 2016 (Extended through February 28, 2016)

John Folchi (American, b. 1955), Untitled (Gas Plate Series), 2015, oil on canvas, 20 x 20 inches. Courtesy the artist.

William P. Fochi (1922–1992) and John Folchi (b. 1955) have depicted the Bronx more than a half-century apart, and, though different in style, their small-scale works provide stunning views onto the visual landscape of the borough. They both approach the borough from different points of view—William P. Folchi finds most of his subjects out-of-doors, rendering a slice of the urban vista; John Folchi selects close-up views of what we see when we look down.

William P. Folchi’s paintings in this exhibition depict the Bronx from 1956–1960 mostly around the neighborhoods of his Morris Park home and Pelham Parkway automotive business. Although Folchi studied at the Art Students’ League in New York, he never publicly exhibited during his lifetime. In 2012, however, another son, William O. Folchi, rediscovered dozens of paintings in the basement of the family home, bringing to light the full breadth of his work. The paintings capture a bygone era—bucolic views of Williamsbridge Road before it was commercially developed, a vacant lot at the corner of Lydig Avenue now occupied by a gas station, and green backyards strung with clotheslines. Many of the works are painted from the elevated perspective of a window in the family’s Yates Avenue home, giving the impression that the viewer is catching a glimpse of something fleeting.

William P. Folchi (American, 1922–1992), Untitled (View of Williamsbridge Road and Lydig Avenue), before 1960, oil on board, 16 x 12 inches. Courtesy the Folchi Family.

John Folchi’s first teacher was his father, who shared with him the basics of anatomy and took him to museums to see the work of old and modern masters. In contrast to his father’s charming depictions of yesteryear, Folchi’s Gas and Water Plate Series and Pavement Series, both 2015, focus on overlooked industrial elements. Visible on sidewalks and paved roads, he transforms gas and water main covers, spray painted utility markings, and asphalt textures from something mundane and ordinary into ornamental and structured color forms.

The two bodies of work by father and son are distinct in character—the father works in a soft, naturalistic style, whereas the son’s work is more geometrically abstract, yet with softened edges and an organic color palette that echoes his father’s. A stretch of sky and the edges of buildings fill the elder Folchi’s paintings, while John Folchi distills and magnifies industrial elements, using luminescent colors to create a sense of atmospheric space. Both artists present the Bronx in fragments, focusing on extracted views rendered from what is commonplace and may be easily overlooked unless observed with the artist’s eye.

John Folchi earned an MFA from Lehman College in 1979, and has had solo exhibitions at such venues as Sears Peyton Gallery, Greenpoint Gallery (Brooklyn), Just Art Gallery (Providence, RI), and the Kimmel Galleries at New York University. His work is in the permanent collections of Pfizer, Fidelity Investments, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Care Center, and private collections. William P. Folchi’s work was exhibited in 2012 at the Cultural Association of the Molise Region in Long Island City and the Leonard Lief Library at Lehman College, and in 2013 at the Huntington Museum Free Library in the Bronx.

As a member of the American Alliance of Museums, The Hebrew Home at Riverdale is committed to publicly exhibiting its art collection throughout its 32-acre campus including the Derfner Judaica Museum and a sculpture garden overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. The Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection provide educational and cultural programming for residents of the Hebrew Home, their families and the general public from throughout New York City, its surrounding suburbs and visitors from elsewhere. The Home is a nonprofit, non-sectarian geriatric organization serving more than 11,000 elderly persons in greater New York through its resources and community service programs. Museum hours: Sunday – Thursday, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Art Collection and grounds open daily, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Call 718 581-1596 for holiday hours and to schedule group tours, or for further information please visit our website at http://www.hebrewhome.org/art

This exhibition is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.