Artist Darcie Lee Hanaway has had a presence on the Vineyard art scene ever since she moved here in 2007. However, her visibility has been limited in recent years. “I took a little break,” she says. “I’ve been pretty much off the radar for a few years. I was in the more internal creating phase than the showing phase.”
Still, Islanders may be familiar with Ms. Hanaway’s work from the paintings that have been on display over the years at Island businesses including Lucky Hank’s, the Oyster Bar, Side Car, and Shindig. She has shown her work at the original A Gallery in Vineyard Haven and at the Chilmark art and performance space occupied by Pathways Projects in the off-season. She also hosts at least one open house every year at her studio on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs.
One reason that Ms. Hanaway has not shown her work recently is a purely logistical one. “My work is getting increasingly larger,” she says. “I used to do large pieces in college. Due to my circumstances, it got smaller. It’s hard to find a place to hang bigger work.”
For that reason, the artist has chosen this year to host her annual show offsite, at the Tisbury Water Works building below the overlook on State Road in Vineyard Haven. On Friday, Oct. 30, Ms. Hanaway will host a solo show from 5 to 8 pm, followed by live music from Good Night Louise from 8 to 10 pm. (She will be showing pieces in a variety of sizes and a range of price points.)
“I love the industrial feel,” says Ms. Hanaway of the Water Works building, which was converted into a studio and event space a few years ago. “I used to have a studio in Providence in a warehouse building. I like the brick walls [in the Water Works]. I like the feeling of industry. I feel that it’s a great juxtaposition.”
The modern look of the renovated building suits Ms. Hanaway’s contemporary style. Her work is a cross between representational and abstraction, often featuring distorted human figures in combination with colorful abstract elements.
She works in mixed media, often combining collage with watercolor, acrylics, markers, and spray paint. Some of her paintings feature focal points created with thick globs of paint applied directly from the tube, often in blood red. There is clearly an emotional, cerebral side to all of her work.
In the artist’s statement on her website (darcielee.com), Ms. Hanaway describes her influences and process: “My work is a mixed media narrative of sorts. The pieces often deal with healing of the self, of society, of nature, and of the world. I am drawn to cycles and systems present in nature, various cultures, and in life as we know it. My work is process-driven and intuitively made, following thoughts and images as they pass through my consciousness. Visual texture is established through multiple layers and capturing manic creative energies.”
Not surprisingly, Ms. Hanaway sees the creation process as one involving a physical and emotional process as opposed to a strictly intellectual one.
In describing the experience of working on a large painting, she says, “It’s really freeing to use your whole body to create a piece. It’s very different energy.”
Energy is a word that Ms. Hanaway uses often in describing her process as an artist. That energy is evident in her work. There’s a sense of vibrancy, and each of her pieces invites the viewer to spend some time absorbing the image.
She has included live music in the show, partly because it is something she finds important to the creative process. “Dancing is a big part of painting for me,” says Ms. Hanaway. “The rhythm gets your energy stirring. I think it’s really important for people to get that feeling. Often I dance when painting to get my creative spirit flowing.”
Ms. Hanaway is a teacher as well as an artist. She has spent time mentoring budding artists from the Charter School and assisting the Sense of Wonder afterschool programs for younger artists.
She has also organized and run a number of live painting events for the annual Soundfest music festival, Pathways Projects, and other local initiatives and organizations.
“Live painting for me is gathering a lot of collective energy with a bunch of people at an environment,” she says. “In the studio when I’m painting, I’m gathering energy from myself and my own environment. I welcome anyone who wants to paint, and I finish the work at my studio. In creating art with a group of people, it becomes a really powerful piece.”
It’s that sort of power — and emphasis on energy — that makes Ms. Hanaway’s work so effective.
Artist reception with Darcie Lee Hanaway at the Tisbury Water Works building, Friday, Oct. 30, 5 to 8 pm. Good Night Louise will perform from 8 to 10 pm. Free. For additional information, call 401-935-6762.