Vineyard Haven artist Cindy Kane opens her first solo show on the Island since 2008 at the A Gallery on Sunday, August 19. There will be a reception that day from 5 to 8 pm. She talked with enthusiasm last week about the warehouse-sized gallery and the new work that will be on display in its gray room on State Road in Vineyard Haven.
“They come into this with a lot of experience in dealing with spaces and a strong sense of aesthetics,” Ms. Kane says of gallery proprietors Tanya Augoustinos and Maria Westby. “A space like this — it’s like a gift to the artists.”
New this season, the A Gallery’s exhibition space will accommodate Ms. Kane’s large new work easily. Ms. Kane has been putting together panels, which are conveniently sized to fit into FedEx boxes for shipping. She took an older map piece — she has used maps as backgrounds in many of her paintings — to provide a foundation for a new three-section work called “Constance.” The maps are not about specific places but rather reflect attitudes, boundaries, and tumultuous relationships, according to the artist. She calls maps part of our inheritance.
“It makes a wonderful skin,” she says. “I enjoy seeing all the layers underneath.” Ms. Kane has introduced what she calls a fire bar: a strong, red geometric element that floats across one side of the painting. “I’m enjoying the way these fire blocks are interacting with space,” she says. “I wanted to make something more muscular. It felt like a risk.”
This particular painting is about the elements and the way they intersect and collide, according to Ms. Kane. The artist has made templates for some parts of the painting, which allow her to move elements around without having to repaint the entire work each time she tries a new version.
“Sometimes when I’m building up a first painting, I know it’s not going to last,” she says. “It’s a lot of work [to change it], but it’s worth it.” She photographs the different versions and keeps them on her computer so she can track the changes.
“Photographing it helps a lot,” Ms. Kane says. “That way if I want to go back to something I did earlier, I can.”
Another new work is called “In the Red.” Fashioned after Indian and Persian miniatures, the borders are embellished with a different narrative than the one in the center of the painting. A visit to the new Islamic wing at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art sparked her interest in the miniatures, and she has researched the subject by reading illustrated books about them.
“Inheritance,” the title painting for the show, uses a border of Band-Aids in their bright red and blue wrappers, festooned periodically with butterflies in black discs. Ms. Kane ordered a case of the bandage strips for the project. Only a vague outline of Band-Aid shapes emerges in the central portion of the painting, bisected horizontally by a brilliantly colored fire bar. Each element of “Inheritance” haunts the viewer with questions and associations. What does the brand name Band-Aid suggest? How does the fire bar signify? Why has the artist used painted-over adhesive strips in the central part of the work? How does the painting contain its various meanings?
Ms. Kane calls another mixed-media work, “Self-Contained,” which she just finished, very quirky and full of surprises. She glued old phone bills on its surface, then painted a feather ball — a recurrent image in her iconography — over them. Only a slight outline of the original feather ball comes through on the finished surface.
“It’s out of my comfort zone,” she says of “Self-Contained.” “That’s a painting that teaches you something.” It is one of many works in Ms. Kane’s new show that will enlighten viewers.
Artist’s Reception with Cindy Kane, Sunday, Aug. 19, 5–8 pm, A Gallery, Vineyard Haven. For more information, call 774-327-9422 or visit agallerymv.com.