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‘Spaces and Places’ defines the abstract at Louisa Gould Gallery

By September 5, 2017Art & Galleries

“Passion Flurry” by Roberta Gross.

Now in its 10th year, Vineyard Haven’s Louisa Gould Gallery celebrates the abstract in the work of eight artists. “Abstract Spaces and Places” is the ninth abstract show Philadelphia artist Roberta Gross has curated at the gallery, and she has exhibited in all 10. While accomplished on their own, six of the artists whose work is on display have been students of hers at Featherstone Center for the Arts.

The seven acrylic paintings by Ms. Gross, who summers in Aquinnah, draw on the landscape of her garden there, with its butterfly bush, catnip, and scrubby oaks overlooking the ocean. Working with a bright palette, she builds layers of color in vertical compositions that sparkle with bright specks. In “Green Flurry,” she has literally flung spots over narrow black stems, reminiscent of trees, on a blue background. She describes it and the others in the series as impressions of things floating by, suggesting the air has objects in it that she has tried to capture.

The muted palette of Makonikey summer resident Sian Ballen’s five pastels provides a strong contrast to Ms. Gross’ work. Influenced by abstract impressionism and color field painting, this artist spends time mixing grays for her compositions. Rather than brushes, she uses scrapers and shapers to create painterly forms that float on the surface. The buildup of texture in each of her five untitled works adds a light-driven luminescence. According to Ms. Gross, the artist was ready to discard “Untitled 3,” with its patterns of soft blue and white. But the addition of two vertical white lines that seem to divide the painting into a triptych redeemed it for Ms. Ballen.

“Found in the Lost City” by Chetta Kelley.

Photographer Laura Roosevelt, a West Tisbury resident, captures a diverse range of patterns, including the bright blue shapes in “Squall” and the vibrant jungle of blacks and yellows in “Glendalough.” Images like “Mist” and” Lightning” employ a more pastel palette.

Tashmoo summer resident Chetty Kelley has only one work in the exhibit, but “Found in the Lost City” is a striking black-and-white abstraction. This artist uses acrylic paint on YUPO synthetic paper that seems to lift the paint up. Black and gray squares float around a centered, arched shape and help create a sense of movement.

In addition to being a photographer, Edwina Rissland, who summers on Chappaquiddick, has a Ph.D. in mathematics from M.I.T. and teaches at UMass Amherst. Her four contributions to the show use close-ups of the sides of boats in an exploration of their colors. “Old Paint — New Patch” captures a brilliant red field with a centered yellow-orange form.

Fused glass is the medium of West Tisbury resident Jeri Dantzig. She creates intensely colored vertical lines, some constructed in waves, others wall pieces. Ms. Rissland and Ms. Dantzig are the two artists not veterans of Ms. Gross’ Featherstone classes.

Michaele Christian, an Oak Bluffs summer resident, displays a black-and-white monotype series, influenced by Degas, which she calls “Homage.” In one group including “Untitled 217,” the artist makes subtle political allusions to the Black Lives Matter movement. Among her 11 works, Ms. Christian also has several color monotypes, two with seascape allusions.

Martha Mae Jones, who summers in Vineyard Haven, works with silk and cotton fabrics. In “Sweet Swim” a strong pattern of horizontal lines is vertically framed. Very different are the brightly colored, happily busy patchworks like “Island Life.”

The gallery hosts a book signing of Jennifer McCurdy’s “Vessels: A Conversation in Porcelain and Poetry” and a poetry reading with Wendy Mulhern on Saturday, Sept. 2, from 4 to 6 pm.

The “Abstract Spaces and Places” show, which will be part of Vineyard Haven’s Sept. 1 First Friday event, continues through Sept. 10.