Margo Allman and Judith Ingram

Posted by: Valetta

By Valetta, Regional Center for Women in the Arts

In the spring of 2008, J. Susan Isaacs, Professor of Art History at Towson University, curated an exhibition of works by Margo Allman and Judith Ingram, two well-known Delaware Valley artists who have been practicing their craft for close to fifty years. Since their two-person show at Towson, both women have had major retrospective exhibitions, Margo at West Chester University and Judith at the newly constructed CAC gallery in Wallingford, PA. Both artists demonstrate the strength of conviction necessary to sustain a long career in the arts. Each has weathered the storms of a male dominated industry, struggled with the challenges of the Feminist Art Movement, and have come around to producing works on their own terms.

As Isaacs states in her curatorial essay “Women who began their professional careers as artists in the 1950s did so at a time when society placed tremendous emphasis on their roles as wives and mothers. The art world did not make room for very many women artists to exhibit their work professionally or to make the “big” career. And of those who did find a niche at the top, most discovered it was difficult to maintain families and make work while simultaneously achieving gallery and institutional support. Yet, there were many creative women who continued to make art despite these obstacles. Most went into the studio every day while simultaneously founding, joining, and leading local and regional arts organizations and raising families.”

Isaacs chose Allman and Ingram to “not only observe the trajectory of their artistic lives, but also to pay homage to them and to the many women whose careers share a similar path.”

Margo Allman studied at Smith College, Moore College of Art & Design, and with Hans Hoffman in New York City. She began her career as a printmaker, but turned to painting and sculpture in the mid-1960s, Her work is inspired and influenced by the great abstract expressionists: Arshile Gorky, Philip Guston and Willem deKooning, but she acknowledges her nod to Minimalism and Pop Art as well. Describing Landscape Forms II, Isaacs says “This image is poster-like in its flatness and suggests a highly-stylized Pop composition, almost like a detail of a much larger Pop painting. At the same time, the forms are reduced and simplified with sensitivity to a more minimalist vision. Allman confirmed her knowledge of what was happening around her, yet she held onto her personal vision that she was essentially a creator of abstract forms based in nature.”

In 1980, Allman began her exploration of the ovoidal form. In 2001, with Ovoidal Dualities she brought that exploration to a sophisticated peak. Again Isaacs describes this painting, “ovoidal shapes jam the surface, competing for space and oxygen…” While Allman’s works are not computer generated, she is aware of the changes in our culture, and her newest work evokes the essence of nature in combination with information technology and science. Her works are in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Delaware Art Museum.

Judith Ingram was exposed to art at an early age. Her mother was the fashion editor at the Philadelphia Public Record. In the late 1940s, Ingram worked in the advertising art department at G Brothers and took night classes at the School of Industrial Arts (later Philadelphia College of Art and today the University of the Arts). After marriage she continued her art training, including private classes with Hobson Pittman. Her first professional solo exhibition held in 1964 was at the Avondale Gallery in Swarthmore, PA. She has been represented in Philadelphia by Rosenfeld Gallery for twenty-four years.

As a founding member of MUSE Gallery (one of the first women’s cooperative galleries in the country) Ingram was at the heart of the 70s Feminist Art Movement in Philadelphia. Her commitment to the art community was also demonstrated by her membership on the Executive Council of the American Color Print Society and as Secretary for the Philadelphia Artists Equity Board of Directors. She has also been generous, sharing her skills in workshops at universities and museums across the country and at nationally renowned art schools, Arrowmont and Haystack. Her paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture have been exhibited at such diverse institutions as the Tokyo Central Museum of the Arts in Japan and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. Her work is represented in the collections of the National Museum for Women in the Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Delaware Art Museum. Isaacs sums up Ingram as an intelligent artist who developed a sophisticated eye and whose work demonstrates an intelligent wit and a keen sensitivity to materials.

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