Boston artist Barbara Leiner has a new exhibit of abstract and semiabstract oil paintings on display at the Chilmark Free Public Library. She has named the show “Unearthing” after a series of four works titled “Unearth.” Each is a vivid abstract expressionist–based mix of saturated primary colors, particularly red hues. Ms. Leiner has spent summers in Aquinnah for over 20 years.
“I am inspired by life’s landscapes, a gesture, a line,” Ms. Leiner said in her artist’s statement. “Color and texture drive my path while layering creates an area of rest.”
Color is an important component of her work, and she builds up the surfaces of her paintings with thick layering, creating texture through the resulting impasto. Painting offers her a raw exposure while letting in a sense of whimsy. In a charming tribute to summer on the Island, the artist has put her titles on seashells, which are attached to the works.
Ten large works, at least 40 inches by 40 inches in size, dominate the show, although 11 smaller paintings offer a nice counterpoint. In addition to the riotous dances of color in the “Unearthed” series, six of the larger paintings balance pure abstraction with figurative elements. A bright red bouquet of flowers is the subject of a still life, “summer.” In the intriguingly titled “when a tractor fell in love with a house,” a pink tractor with red accents seems to head toward a small pink house. Directing the eye from a mailbox to a house, “coming home” provides an example of how Ms. Leiner uses black lines as unifying compositional elements.
Especially appealing are the lively paintings that riff on boats. In “anchors away,” a red boat with blue rigging, its bow pointed up, heads along the canvas while an almost primitive blue trawler looms across, “full steam ahead.” “Splish splash” again utilizes red, setting its boat on a bright blue base of imagined water against a large, subtly colored sky.
Ms. Leiner has enjoyed two juried fellowships in recent years. One was at the Fine Arts Workshop in Provincetown, recently on exhibit at the Copley Society; the other was on Great Cranberry Island, Maine. Both produced boat paintings. A member of Boston’s Copley Society, the artist studied at Long Island University and the Fashion Institute of Technology, as well as the Art Students League. She has participated in a number of master classes, and in 2002 she attended a Wolf Kahn intensive workshop. She has also exhibited on-Island at the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society and Featherstone Center for the Arts.
“Unearthing” will remain on view until July 15. For further information and hours, see chilmarklibrary.org.