Guna Mundheim lives in New York as well as Tucson and Long Beach Island, New Jersey. She did undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in chemistry. Later, she attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts followed by graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania in Fine arts and Landscape Architecture. She served as assistant Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at the U of P and taught a watercolor studio there from 1979 - 1986.
Mundheim is represented by the GrossMcCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia and was a member of the Phoenix Gallery in New York.
Selected one person exhibitions include the GrossMcCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia (2011, 1997, 1993) as well as the Phoenix Gallery in New York City( 2010, 2007); the Philadelphia Art Alliance, The Rosenfeld Gallery, Phila.,Pa; the Wallingford Art Center, Pa.: the Wayne Art Center, Wayne, Pa. and the Burrison gallery at the University of Pennsylvania. Mundheim also had a solo exhibition at the Veiherte Gallery in Riga, Latvia in 2004.
She has been awarded numerous prizes, particularly in watercolor and mixed media including First Prize from the Philadelphia Watercolor Society and second prize in a Regional watercolor exhibition at Abbington Art Center, juried by John Moore.
Selected group shows include Tohono Chul Invitational, Tucson, AZ, 2019; Contemporary Art Society, Tucson 2020; Chester Springs Studio Invitational, Pa.; Woodmere Art Museum, Pa.; Art in City Hall, Phila., Pa.; Reading Public Museum, Pa.; John Herron Museum, Indianapolis, IN and numerous other venues. She participates annually in the Long Beach Island members show.
Alan Armstrong, writer and critic, writes:” In her watercolors, Mundheim has developed imagery which straddles the border between representation and the imagination. On the pictorial plane, overall color schemes and highlights are subtly controlled in patterns which point to the artist's role in the object's re-presentation. This establishes a certain play between the still life's traditional illusion of depth and more constructed, self-aware collage-like effects. The viewer enters a more obviously personal place, filled with playfulness, symbol and mystery, where magic and dreams flow into through the everyday. “
Guna Mundheim’s work is numerous public and private collections.
At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to become an artist? Did the realization emerge slowly?
Art activity, primarily through painting, has always been an important life component for me. In college, I chose to major in chemistry, but parallel to that I took all the requirements for a Fine Arts major, including senior project. With both lab and studio, the days went into long nights, but were wonderful. Later, when working in Biochemistry and also doing graduate work, I painted most nights and was invited to show work in many professional exhibitions. At one point, I had saved up some money and gave myself a gift of enrolling full time at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts as an advanced student. That was followed by graduate work in Fine Arts at Penn as a special student of Neil Welliver. The turning point was there.
How did you evolve your style and favorite mediums?
I was always a painter. When, I do drawings – and I do many of those now – I am still a painter. In my early art career, I did large abstract oil paintings. They were very well received. There were prizes, invitations to show and many sales. At one point, there was no studio space and large oil paintings were impossible to do, so I started water color on paper. That practice grew and at one point the watercolors were larger in size than my oils had been. This had become my main form of expression. As the watercolors evolved, they came to include more and more representational elements, creating particular spatial relationships, movement and visual worlds.
What are your time management techniques? Do you have regular working hours...or favorite times to work?
For most of my life, besides studio practice, I have worked part-time in university administration and teaching a studio course. There have also been the responsibilities and rewards of family life. Busy times and long weekly commutes from Philadelphia to Washington. Studio time, had to be carefully scheduled. Before shows, it was enormous pressure and many late night hours. Now, I have more freedom, but generally, I like to work when there is an expanse of time, when the business chores are done. Then the mind can reach other areas of being.
Do you work on more than one piece at a time, or primarily just on one?
I tend to work in series and always have a number of things going at the same time, but at a given moment the main concentration is in one piece of work. That is where the mind lives at that time.
What would you say is your biggest influence--that which keeps you working, regardless of all else, your most steadfast motivation?
My motivation comes mainly from observation of nature – its possibility of different space, its changing color, the sense of moving forms, and varied moods of light. When in the city and indoors, the nature becomes table top “landscapes” of objects mingling with plant forms, cut flowers and creatures creating relationships and questioning other possibilities of being. Light streams through. Music is also part of my evolving forms and a sense of finding meaning in the visual mindscape I attempt to create.
Does trying something new and not knowing the rules -- the boundary pushing -- create anxiety or excitement in you? (Or both?)
Trying new methodologies is wonderful. It opens up an excitement to unknown possibilities.
Do you enjoy having the "duality of both chaos and control" or are you happiest with a set plan?
Temporary chaos often happens. In watercolor it is rather threatening. If it lasts, it might mean starting over.
Do you have any projects or events forthcoming?
I do have a new project, which I am just starting. It has to do with creating visual forms from things and events partially remembered. It may include text. It will probably be mixed media.
I had also been invited to show watercolors in China, but for the time being, that is on hold.
Please contact the artist directly:
Leaping and Falling