One sunny afternoon last week, Elizabeth Eisenhauer sat on the porch outside Edgartown’s Eisenhauer Gallery, adjacent to the Vineyard Square Hotel & Suites, unpacking crates of paintings for the gallery’s newest exhibit.
Titled Intimacy, it spotlights works by Rebecca Kinkead, Fred Calleri, and David Konigsberg. The gallery will hold an opening reception for the exhibit Thursday, July 12, with music by the Jon Zeeman Trio.
Wielding a cordless drill as she talked, Ms. Eisenhauer had stories to tell about each of the artists in her latest show. Ms. Kinkead, who specializes in paintings of children at play, has been with Eisenhauer for three years and is one of the gallery’s most popular painters.
A large oil painting from the artist’s “Swim Team” series hangs on the porch wall of the gallery, with little girls in bathing suits lined up and ready to go on a diving board. The colors in “Swim Team No. 11″ are primary: reds, yellows, blues. The figures are simplified, and the faces have no features. Ms. Kinkead has made them to fit any model the viewer chooses.
When Ms. Eisenhauer first began to represent this artist, she thought she wanted Kinkead landscapes, yet the artist convinced her that she should carry the children, and Ms. Eisenhauer has been happy with the result and her clientele’s enthusiasm.
“I don’t like dark, sad paintings,” the gallery owner says.
Like Ms. Kinkead, Fred Calleri has been part of the Eisenhauer Gallery’s extensive stable of artists for some time. Coming from a background in graphic design and marketing, he paints a range of colorful figures from the bearded, pipe-smoking lobster fisherman in “Baited Cage” to the coy damsel with cupid-bow mouth in an old-fashioned striped bathing suit and cap. His figure paintings share a bright, happy-go-lucky feeling in palette and composition with pop-art echoes from the advertising world.
As Ms. Eisenhauer points out, they usually have a comic, almost cartoonish quality. Looking at one seated young lady kicking up a leg, she says, “I happen to be a figure junky. I love to put figures around me that reflect empowerment, confidence, and sensuality.”
Ms. Eisenhauer’s longest story comes next about Brooklyn artist David Konigsberg, who is a new addition to the gallery. His paintings also happen to be the ones Ms. Eisenhauer is unpacking from shipping crates on the porch. The first one goes up temporarily on an easel outside the gallery door.
“I’ve been pining to do a show with him for 10 years,” she says. “I was just so thrilled when he said yes.”
When she first met him, Mr. Konigsberg was exhibiting next to her Block Island gallery (closed in 2007). Once they settled on the exhibit, she asked him for a painting with a bicycle, and “Road to Taghkanic” showed up in the first crate to be opened, much to the gallery owner’s pleasure.
The name Taghkanic is a Native American transliteration for Taconic, part of the Appalachian range. The man hunched over his bike in this work cannot be identified any more than Ms. Kinkead’s children can. Surrounded by clouds in Mr. Konigsberg’s somber, masculine palette of brown, mustard and gray, this mysterious biker could be heading into the heavens. Ms. Eisenhauer has asked Mr. Konigsberg to give an artist’s talk at the gallery on July 19.
“To go for work that’s kind of quiet is a departure for me,” says Ms. Eisenhauer observes, in reference to Mr. Konigsberg’s painting style. The gallery owner pulls out another Konigsberg from its bubble wrap. It’s called “Round” and depicts pairs of brown-haired women in long-sleeved white shirts looking out at a roll of surf under puffy, brown-tinged clouds. Konigsberg tomatoes and cows come out of the crates, too. Then she finds one of her favorites, “Advance.” This work portrays a line of three women dancing with outstretched arms joined, and it expresses the quality of joie de vivre that seems to fit much of the work found in Eisenhauer Gallery –– and Ms. Eisenhauer herself.
“I love the idea of working smart, because my favorite thing is doing nothing,” she says. Uncrating art on the porch qualifies, and the Eisenhauer idea of “nothing” clearly amounts to quite something. Many of the paintings in the exhibit opening July 12 will remain up throughout the summer.
Intimacy: Kinkead, Calleri and Konigsberg, Eisenhauer Gallery, Edgartown. Opening reception, Thursday, July 12, 6 to 8 pm. 508-627-7003; eisenhauergallery.com.