A Visual Memoir

Plesh’s painting Ambridge could just as rightfully be titled Aliquippa.

Aliquippa, Pennsylvania is situated just across the Ohio River from Ambridge and one time home to the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company. Reflecting a time when steel mill factories were heart and lifeblood to surrounding towns, Ambridge is a visual memoir—a homage to Plesh’s youth and artistic awakenings, and pays reverence to the memory of this erstwhile era.

“The painting Ambridge depicts my remembrances of implicit elements of my youth .  I recall the steels mills of Aliquippa, how they lit up the evening sky with their amber tones from the massive furnace fires. As a young boy and into young adulthood, I was constantly in awe of this magnificent visual impression.  The river added its own layer of mystique and beauty.  Despite the implications of life in a steel mill town, I actually found a magical beauty and romantic sensitivity in those moments.”

Even as a child, Plesh’s artistic sensibilities were extraordinary  and well-honed.  His perspective here, in stark contrast to ostensible perception, is not one of grinding metal nor billows of dark smoke, but rather highlights the tempering and seraphic quality of the burnished night’s sky which presided  so poignantly over his youth.   A surreal melding of form and the delineation of space on the canvas place us exactly behind his eyes. The exquisite use of color and technique yield an iridescent,  nostalgic effect—the burning echoes of mills long abandoned.  We are sensorially transported back in time.              Nena Black