The latest installment of the MCA’s second-floor lobby atrium project features a mural by New York–based artist Ellen Berkenblit (American, b. 1958). This new work, titled Leopard’s Lane (2019), continues two recent themes in the artist’s painting practice, the expressive potential of cats, and the inherent energy of urban elements such as trucks, stoplights, and smokestacks. For the past several years, Berkenblit has incorporated a striped, tigerlike cat into her works, finding endless compositional potential in a simplified, even cartoonish profile, that remains relatively constant. This tactic of using schematic witches, birds, clocks, flowers, and horses as starting points for complex exercises in color, surface, and space has guided much of her work. Here, that cat has grown into a menacing leopard let loose in a dark landscape, sharing space with a box truck and an abstracted chimney. Honing her craft since her professional debut in the early 1980s, Berkenblit has arrived at a place of artistic assuredness where scale, orientation, and different degrees of completion or virtuosity are all up for grabs, in service to an overall goal of making images that are captivating, dynamic, and unforgettable.
Leopard's Lane is organized by Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator. It can be seen in the second-floor atrium.