West Tisbury’s ArtSpace Studio opened its abstract show last weekend with work by Margaret Emerson, Blanche Somer, and Ed Schulman. Ms. Emerson has nine paintings on display; Ms. Somer, 32 ceramic pieces, and Mr. Schulz, 25 paintings. ArtSpace is a small studio and gallery devoted to work done by its studio artists. It sponsors poetry and play readings and music events in addition to art shows. On Sunday, August 21, and Monday, August 22, the Studio will also display the jewelry of Oak Bluffs resident Rachael Convery.
Ms. Emerson, a Chilmark resident, is showing works in acrylic and mixed media. She also belongs to the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association and exhibits pastels in their Old Sculpin Gallery in Edgartown. “I fell in love with acrylic and did a lot of landscapes,” she told The Times last weekend. For “Stretch,” she combined acrylic and gesso, building up a richly layered and textured surface in bright blues to create a sense of movement. One corner of the painting has a field of small droplets, created by using the airbrush medium to liquefy the paint.
A member of Edgartown’s Martha’s Vineyard Poetry Collective, Ms. Emerson often paints
her poems. “First I write the poem, then I paint the picture,” she said. One of her groupings, which includes the painting “Emerge” incorporates gold leaf and sometimes uses screen to develop texture. “I was just following the paint. That was really fun,” Ms. Emerson said. For “Breakfast,” which was inspired by bagels, she incorporated bubble wrap for texture. This charming work could be a Rorschach test. “Red and White” comes from a poem she wrote called “The Quarrel.”
Ms. Somer, a ceramacist who divides her time between West Tisbury and Clinton Township, N.J., has used the notion of abstraction in some fascinating ways. For “Deconstructed Bowl,” she said, “I dropped it (a conventional bowl), then turned it upside down.” Next she cut it apart into rings to create a work with a wealth of surfaces. The clay used in this piece has not been fired and remains in its original brown color. “Deconstructed Bowl” was recently shown in a competition at San Angelo, Texas.
Ms. Somer employs a variety of firing techniques. Soda firing is done outdoors with a combination of gas, wood, and baking soda. Japanese Anagama firing dates back to the fifth century, and the wood-fueled work stays in the kiln for a week, allowing ash to build and provide color and texture. Raku, which means “happiness in the accident,” employs outdoor firing. Once the object is removed, it is placed in a galvanized barrel with newspaper, straw, sawdust, or wood chips. As it cools, the barrel environment creates a reductive atmosphere.
“Green cube” has been shown in the Clay Studio of Philadelphia, where the challenge was to make a work that could fit into a clear Plexiglass case. “Vase with Flowers,” inspired by a Jean Metzinger painting, is the most figurative of this artist’s work on display.
Urban landscapes, sailboats, and dancers are among the subjects that inspire Vineyard Haven resident Ed Schulman’s abstract paintings. He doesn’t title his work, and he applies paint on a variety of surfaces, including glass. “It’s an affordable material,” he points out. He works with brush and knife, sometimes peeling back layers of paint to create an effect. This artist depicts recognizably figurative images that move into abstraction. Several of his urban landscapes, with their clusters of tall buildings, illustrate this approach.
The Abstract Show at ArtSpace continues through August 22. Rachael Convery will also exhibit her jewelry there on Sunday, August 21, and Monday, August 22, from 6 to 8 pm. To see the Abstract Show, viewers should call Margaret Emerson at 941-441-5082 for an appointment.