Tinney Contemporary artist Mary Long-Postal in ABQ Journal


Kate McGraw of the Albuquerque Journal (otherwise known as ABQ Journal) wrote with great detail and admiration of Tinney Contemporary's artist Mary Long-Postal and her encaustic method. The article, as written by Kate McGraw, is below:

Long-Postal has been working in encaustic for a decade or more. A dedicated perfectionist, she taught herself to use the medium with an instruction book. “I used to do a lot of collage and I really enjoyed the layering process,” she said in a telephone interview from her Memphis home. “I taught myself to do it and the first couple of paintings I did sold and caught the eye of a good gallery here in town and … the rest is history.” After a lot of back-and-forthing, she’s now represented by galleries in Columbus, Ohio; Memphis, Nashville and Ruhlen’s gallery in Santa Fe.

“Karan (Ruhlen) has been wonderful, a good mentor to kind of get me to the next level,” Long-Postal said. “And of course, Santa Fe’s a much larger market with greater expectations, so it’s very challenging. She expected to have a minimum of six paintings in the Ruhlen show, depending on shipping logistics for some recent works.

Born in Ohio, Long-Postal has lived in Tennessee since the mid-1990s. Following studies in graphic design and painting, she began working in encaustic in 2001. ”I grew up near Canton, where there is a crazy-quilt patchwork of rural farms and factories. It’s a juxtaposition of architectural grayness against expanses of happy, saturated colors that inspires my work to this day,” she says.  Long-Postal often begins her paintings with marks drawn in oil stick, over which she applies 12 to 20 layers of wax combined with oil paints. “I scrape down in between the applications, revealing some of the marks, while leaving others faded or hidden in little worlds that have an element of history to them. The paintings begin in what I call a chaotic, adolescent phase and grow as layers of color and additional lines weave the elements together.”Â

Admitting that the paintings are reflections of her own interior life, Long-Postal adds that the world is a place where things may be immediately understood alongside those that are intentionally illusive. “Life is not always as it appears,” she said.

She said she started with neutral backgrounds and then added shapes and colors. “I let it do whatever it wants to do,” she said. “What happens is a kind of chaos. I scrape off some and add opaque wax to cover something else up. Eventually I add lines to being some definition out of the chaos. There’s a lot of back and forth, a lot of going back and forth in time.”

Long-Postal said she is known for using “happy” colors-”but underneath is all that chaos and confusion,” she noted. “That’s usually my mental process as well; it’s darker and more serious than the painting first suggests.”

She’s coming out of three years of serious illness – several hospitalizations and four operations for ulcerative colitis. “I had really lost any desire to paint, but my friends – Karan and others – helped me to see that I was being too hard on myself. It was the perfectionism thing. That’s what those lines on the paintings are about,” she said. “I worry that people won’t be able to see what’s there.”

That concern is “a really rich subject,” Long-Postal added. “I like the persistence of memory that’s inherent in encaustic paintings,” she said. “Where you can see through the layers and see what happened. You can choose what to look at.”

We do that in American society all the time,” she added with a chuckle. “Here’s a happy landscape but there’s something that needs to be faced. That’s a process that happens in a lot of different contexts: families, politics, individual lives, workplaces. It’s a protective measure we employ.”