Abstract art gets personal at the Louisa Gould Gallery

"Seascape Abstract 7," on oil and canvas by Jennifer Ellwood. – Louisa Gould

“Personal Visions,” the newest show at the Louisa Gould Gallery in Vineyard Haven, includes the work of six abstract artists. This marks the ninth year for abstract shows at the gallery. Roberta Gross, a Philadelphia- and Aquinnah-based artist, has curated the show, which opened August 25 and will continue until Sunday, Sept. 11.

Ms. Gross will lead a discussion about abstract art at the gallery on Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 5 pm. “I always learn something about abstract art,” gallery owner Louisa Gould said about the curator’s talks. “It’s very informative and fun.”

The six artists on exhibit explore abstraction in a variety of interesting ways. Martha Mae Jones creates colorful assemblages with fabric strips. In some cases she made the fabric herself, while in others she uses remnants of silk, cotton, rayon, bamboo, and hemp or similar materials. She studied weaving and textile design in Sweden. In addition to Vineyard publications, her work has been featured in the New York Times, Essence magazine, Shuttle and Dye, the Pittsburgh Business Times, and the Amsterdam News.

West Tisbury photographer Laura Roosevelt captures the abstract reflections of water and boats. A trip to Florida inspired her to explore the rippling of water. She has photographed water patterns in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida, and Maryland, as well as Mexico and the Galapagos. Ms. Roosevelt told Arts and Ideas Magazine, “When you look closely at water that is not completely still, the undulations take apart reflected images, repeating bits of them like Picasso women with too many eyes, stretching them like funhouse mirrors.”

Oak Bluffs artist Michaele Christian has a series of compositionally elegant screenprints on display. “Brainstorm” is a vertical work with long, powerful red vertical shapes on one side. The other has green and blue vertical forms, along with darker elements. “I’m inspired by the genius of nature and build things that make me smile,” Ms. Christian wrote on her website. “I attempt to use the simplest language and smallest words possible.”

Boston- and Vineyard-based Jennifer Elwood’s well-executed oil seascapes and beachscapes explore how abstraction can underlie the natural world at the same time it exists in a figurative sense. She works in bright shades of blue with grayer versions of water and yellow shorelines. She has studied at the Boston School of Fine Arts and the Hanoi University of Fine Arts in Vietnam.

Twisted threads snaking across her mixed-media paintings are one hallmark of Vineyard Haven artist Joyce Silberling. Horizontal blue lines alternate with bars of red shapes in “Family Ties,” where zigzag lines suggest the family motif behind this powerful painting.

Last but far from least are the pastels and silk screens of Ms. Gross herself. Ms. Gross has taught abstract art and pastels at Featherstone Center for the Arts for 10 summers, focusing on large-format work, encaustics, and compositional elements. A number of the artists on exhibit in this show have worked under her as students. “This exhibit showcases a fraction of the variety of approaches available to abstract artists,” Ms. Gross said; “politics; fabric art, mixed-media, oil, pastels, screenprint, digital photography, the figure, and landscape.”

Ms. Gross’ work explodes with color, sometimes in black-lined, semirealistic figures, and other times using geometrical shapes in yellow and blue backgrounds, as in “Gold Abstract” and “Green and Blue Abstract.” “Anticipation” deconstructs a nude with a cubist feel, while the artist approaches abstraction in a more cerebral way in “The Lurch 1” and “The Lurch 2.”

As Ms. Gross said, “While there are many ‘isms’ in contemporary art (postmodernism, minimalism, conceptualism, etc.), I see the thrust of art in our age is primarily reflecting each artist’s personal vision expressed in her own way.” The viewer will take pleasure in the various ways the six artists present their work in “Personal Visions.”
For more information, visit louisagould.com.