Cate White: Here to Returnity

Sean Howe: Inhabitants

On View

December 3, 2020 - January 15, 2021

Virtual Opening | December 5, 2020 at 7:30 PM PST

Press Release and Curator’s Essay

November 13, 2020 (Palo Alto, CA) - Qualia Contemporary Art is pleased to present two solo exhibitions featuring the work of Bay Area artists, Cate White and Sean Howe. White’s exhibition, Here to Returnity, is a series of mixed media on canvas works that depict the repetitive patterns and contemporary experiences of systemic power structures within an art historical context. Howe’s exhibition, Inhabitants, is a surreal body of work created from 2017 - 2020 that showcases the artist’s mastery of composition and color. Though both exhibitions exist as separate bodies of work, they work together to explore themes relating to contemporary societal issues like environmentalism, anxiety, progress and representation. Inhabitants and Here to Returnity are open to the public from December 3, 2020 through January 15, 2021. The gallery will be hosting a Zoom opening celebration on December 5, 2020, at 7:30 pm PST. RSVP is required. To RSVP, please visit: art-exhibition-opening-night-tickets-128947370055

For White’s exhibition, Here to Returnity, the artist takes her own personal history and experiences, as well as those of her friends, and places them within the art historical canon. Here to Returnity explores the cyclical nature of destructive power structures like Colonialism, White Supremacy, the Patriarchy, and Capitalism. In her work, The Problem, White reimagines the Norman Rockwell painting, The Problem We All Live With, an iconic image of the Civil Rights Movement. The piece depicts the brave student, Ruby Bridges, walking to school during integration with a crowd of onlookers antagonizing her as she entered; her head held up high. In White’s version, she details an interaction she witnessed between a Black mother taking her baby on a walk and a White man leering at her out of the window of his Hummer. The artist was struck by the similarities, as if no time had passed, and wanted to pay homage to the endurance of Black women. White’s symbolically charged, yet ambiguous paintings evoke conversations and questions about how much has really changed since these structures were first put in place and how they can be dismantled for good.

Inhabitants is a stunning survey of Howe’s bold anamorphic works that capture the beautiful and overwhelming complexities and relationships that exist within nature. Shapes and characters interact and play off of one another, hinging off of the next. For his work, Inhabitants of the Middle, Howe placed two sculptures in front of a large gessoed panel and then used their shadows to outline a void. Working around the blank space these shadows created, the artist then surrounded the open space with loose sketches of abstract elements and animals.Howe says, “As I jig-saw colors and shapes into environments, characters begin to appear, and I ask them who they are and how do they live? This inquiry initiates more details, and more stories locked into the layers of paint”. Centered around naturalism, Howe’s practice focuses on the daily lives of all lifeforms, from his fellow human to the neighborhood squirrel. By concentrating on the intricacies of their existences, Howe is able to shift focus away from his own anxieties about the despeciation and deterioration of the contemporary world and instead, focus on creating art that tells honest stories about limitless possibilities and futures.

Here to Returnity and Inhabitants marks the second exhibition in Qualia Contemporary Art’s inaugural season as a newly-launched gallery in Palo Alto. For updates on exhibitions and events, please visit:

About Cate White

Originally from the back woods of northern California, Cate White received a BA from Dominican University in 1994, after which she returned to some different back-woods for the duration of her 20s. She began painting at age 30 in 2002 and earned her MFA from John F. Kennedy University’s Arts and Consciousness program in Berkeley, CA in 2010.

In the last 5 years Cate has exhibited work inDenmark, Los Angeles, Atlanta and the Bay Area, with solo shows in San Francisco, Oakland and Hayward. She has presented at the San Francisco Art Institute, Mills College, UC Berkeley and is slated to be a visiting artist at the University of New Mexico and at Sonoma State University in 2016. She was the recipient of Oakland’s ProArts 2x2 Solos award in 2013 and the 2014-2015 Tournesol Award from

Headlands Center for the Arts, a year-long funded residency for a Bay Area painter. She has lived and worked in Oakland, CA for the past 8 years.

About Sean Howe

Sean Howe is a painter and sculptor focused on the interaction of objects and animals within fantastical landscapes. He graduated from the University of Washington in 2007 with a BFA in ceramics and later worked for many art museums in Seattle and the Bay Area. A Permaculture designer since 2010, Sean has designed and implemented food forests in Washington state and edible gardens in California. He has exhibited art in numerous group and solo shows, including Bay Area Now 7 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in 2014. Sean is a recent graduate of Stanford's MFA in Art Practice. He lives in Oakland, California.

About Qualia Contemporary Art

Located in the heart of downtown Palo Alto, Qualia Contemporary Art is dedicated to showcasing outstanding established and emerging artists working in a variety of media. The gallery is committed to building lasting relationships with artists, collectors, curators, and scholars nationally and internationally, and providing a vital platform for dialogues on contemporary art and culture in the Bay Area and beyond.

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