This fall two major Chestnut Hill institutions will offer a rare glimpse into the work of Sam Feinstein, a prominent Philadelphia artist in the abstract expressionist style. The retrospective exhibitions, two at the Woodmere Art Museum and one at SCH Academy, will provide a career-spanning perspective on Feinstein’s work.
Sam Feinstein: The Early Years, opens in SCH Academy’s Barbara Crawford Gallery on September 26 and will feature early works by the artist including watercolors, oil paintings, and illustrations. Woodmere, whose mission is to showcase the work of Philadelphia artists, will feature an exhibition of Feinstein’s later works—Sam Feinstein: Immersive Abstraction—as well as a show entitled Group ‘55 and Midcentury Abstraction in Philadelphia. Feinstein was the founder and leader of Group ‘55, a group of artists, including architect Louis Kahn and painter Sam Maitin, who set out to educate Philadelphia's public and elevate the level of cultural dialogue in the city in the mid-1950s.
Feinstein was a protege and then close colleague of Hans Hoffmann, considered the leader of America’s abstract expressionist movement. Feinstein briefly taught at Chestnut Hill Academy in the late 30s prior to the war. He married fellow artist Barbara Crawford who succeeded him as head of CHA’s Art Department. His connection to the school continued for many years, with many of Crawford’s CHA students, as well as students from Springside School, traveling to his Center City studio to work with him. A catalog available at the SCH exhibition includes essays by some of these students.
The journey that led to these exhibitions began in the fall of 2018, when Patricia Stark Feinstein, wife of the artist and curator of his estate, approached SCH and generously offered to loan the school a canvas by her late husband. Representatives from the school were invited to an art storage facility in New York City to view the collection. On that fortuitous day, a team from the Woodmere Art Museum, led by Director William Valerio, was also present, and the idea of mounting shows jointly was born.
“Collaborating with our partners at the Woodmere to tell the story of Philadelphia’s art and artists has been wonderful,” says Head of SCH Steve Druggan. “We both treasure and believe in furthering the arts in Chestnut Hill.”
Timed small-group visits to the Crawford Gallery exhibition will be available on opening day, Saturday, September 26, and via scheduled appointments during the run of the show, which closes on January 24. Together the two institutions have planned a number of special events around these shows, including virtual tours and student workshops. Please see www.sch.org/feinstein for more information and gallery tour dates.
The SCH exhibition has been made possible by the generous support, mentorship, and generosity of Patricia Stark Feinstein and the Samuel L. Feinstein Trust. Additionally, the Trust has generously loaned the school three large-scale abstract canvases that adorn the walls of the McCausland Lower School. The pieces—Starry Night, Opposing Elements, and Untitled—explode from their white walls in a swirl of intense colors and light that instantly grabs the attention of all who enter the building.
Sam Feinstein: The Early Years
Thursday, September 24, at 7 PM
Side-by-Side virtual tour of the Feinstein exhibitions at the Woodmere Art Museum and SCH Academy by Woodmere Director Bill Valerio and SCH Art Collection curator Melissa Haims
Saturday, September 26
Visit the gallery on opening day from 9 AM to 2 PM, or sign up for a private tour