Image credit: Esther Levine for the Village Voice
Gwyneth Leech is an award-winning American artist living and working in New York City. Her focus is the visual drama of construction sites in Midtown Manhattan, where she is recording the incremental yet rapid building process as the city undergoes major physical and demographic changes. Observational painting and the use of strong color are the heart of her process, and she works interchangeably in water-based media or oil paints on wood panel, canvas or paper. She often paints outside, capturing the progress at building sites across the city.
Leech's fascination with construction sites as subject matter dates to 2015, when a 40 story building began to go up in front of her studio window on West 39th Street. She was losing a view she loved, but she decided to give this unwelcome change her full attention and made scores of drawings and paintings as the new building rose past her 13th floor workspace and blocked the view. She started calling it the Monolith. It had this slab-like quality, this immovability — and it began to represent other monolithic things in her life that couldn't be shifted.
Once the Monolith was finished, Leech's new interest in construction took her outdoors, painting at a travel easel. She is now actively following numerous building projects that are dramatically changing the cityscape, such as Hudson Yards, Billionaire’s Row on West 57th Street, the new MoMA tower on 53rd Street, and One Vanderbilt rising next to Grand Central Station.
Leech works from the same vantage points multiple times over months and years. It is the in-between building stages that capture her imagination. "It has been an incredible journey to chronicle these impossibly tall buildings as they rise from holes in the ground, surrounded and crowned by towering cranes. I stand at street level, dwarfed by massive forms, striving to capture the light and weather as they change endlessly across a mountainous architectural landscape where each time I come back the structures have changed!"
Gwyneth Leech's artwork has been exhibited across the United States and Great Britain in galleries including Zürcher Gallery, Susan Teller Gallery and the Flatiron Prow Artspace in NYC, Geoffrey Young Gallery in Great Barrington MA and in museums including the Pearl Fincher Museum of Art in Houston, TX, the i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa. AZ and the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum in Scotland. She has been featured in the New York Times, the Village Voice, international print media and on NY1 News. She is the subject of a multi-award winning short documentary, The Monolith, by New York filmmaker, Angelo Guglielmo. In November 2019, her construction paintings were featured on 1700 video kiosks across all five boroughs as part of Link NYC’s “Art on Link” public art project.
Leech holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, and a BFA and Masters-level Postgraduate Degree from Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland. The recipient of numerous awards and grants, including a Hell’s Kitchen Foundation Grant, several Scottish Arts Council awards, and a Thouron British/American Exchange Fellowship, Leech’s artwork resides in private and public collections. Recent corporate acquisitions include Brookfield, Cimolai, Despé Italia, Metropolitan Walters, NYC Constructors/Banker Steel, Sciame LLC, SL Green Realty and Stonebridge Inc.
View the Monolith here:
Pioneering NYC artist, Gwyneth Leech, enters a midtown art studio only to find that her skyline view will soon be blocked by the construction of a high-rise hotel. But as the perspective out her window permanently shifts, so does the artist's point of view.
The Monolith is directed by Angelo J. Guglielmo, Jr. (The Woman Who Wasn't There), produced and shot by Andy Bowley, EP'd by Andrea L. Smith. Rosie Walunas adeptly employed the Adobe Creative Suite to bring over 200 pieces of Leech’s beautiful artwork to life using Animation, Motion Graphics and Compositing.
DIRECTOR: ANGELO J. GUGLIELMO, JR.
PRODUCERS: ANDY BOWLEY, ROSIE WALUNAS
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: ANGELO J. GUGLIELMO, JR., ANDREA SMITH
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY BOWLEY
EDITOR: ROSIE WALUNAS
COMPOSER: ABRAHAM CLEMENTS
SOUND MIXER: DAVID WILSON
ART DIRECTORS: ANGELO J. GUGLIELMO, JR. AND ROSIE WALUNAS
STILL PHOTOGRAPHY: BEN KESSLER
ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY: GWYNETH LEECH, SARA KERENS, MARIANNE BARCELLONA
COLORISTS: BEN BROOKSBY, SAM WILES
GRAPHIC DESIGN/POSTER: STEVE KIRWAN