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MCLA Gallery 51 : Sean Riley - Everything is OK

Beginning June 24th at MCLA Gallery 51 presents Everything is OK, the fist solo-exhibition for local artist, Sean Riley.  The exhibition will feature paintings, works on paper, collage, sculpture and Riley's latest medium of choice; quilts.

A free reception will be held Thursday, June 24th from 6 to 8 pm as part of the Downstreet Art grand opening of 11 galleries.

Riley received his BFA in Painting in 1999 from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, MA and an MFA in Painting in 2004 from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Much of Riley's colorful geometric paintings are inspired by quilt and mosaic patterning.  While Riley's interest and study of quilting aesthetics and construction extends throughout his art-making practice, mosaic patterns are a newer inspiration triggered by recent trips to Rome, Italy, including a five-month stay from which he has just returned.

"In the floors, walls and ceilings of ancient Roman sites I saw how pattern was valued for its intricacy and opticality.  Seeing the ancient patterns reinforced for me the notion that abstraction is a timeless visual language.  In my current work I am borrowing some of these patterns and infusing them with my own sensibilities." -Sean Riley 

Another recent development is Riley's transition from making quilt-inspired paintings to actually making quilts.  After losing his father to cancer in 2008, Riley decided to literally stitch together a collection of his father's belongings:

"The quilt tops are pieced together entirely from my father's clothing. I plan on using all of my father's clothing to make a complete series of quilts; the first three of this series will be shown in this exhibition."

Riley has been active in the arts in North Adams since his arrival 1999 when he led a group of teens in collaboration with the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition to create the "Welcome to North Adams" mural that hung on the Eclipse Mill for several years.  Riley also participated in many exhibitions in North Adams over the years, most notably a two person exhibition with the Val London Kane at the Tunnel City Gallery in Heritage State Park in 2001, a two person exhibition with artist Ven Voisey at MCLA Gallery 51 in 2005, and Lumens, collaborative site-specific installation in Adams and North Adams with Voisey and artist Matthew Bellanger in 2008.

Riley has also worked at several arts institutions in the area including Williams College Museum of Art as a preparator, Northern Berkshire Creative Arts as the interim executive director and a teacher of drawing, and as the gallery manager for MCLA Gallery 51.

For more information about the artwork of Sean Riley, visit his website: is OK runs through July 25.  MCLA Gallery 51 is at 51 Main St. in North Adams and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

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