Abstract treasures abound at Louisa Gould Gallery’s latest exhibit


The Louisa Gould Gallery on Main Street, Vineyard Haven, is a treasure trove of visual art in all its myriad forms. The gallery offers paintings, photography (including examples of Gould’s own awardwinning photos from America’s Cup races and other maritime scenes), sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, and more by dozens of artists working in a wide variety of styles.

Still, every year, for the past 11 years, Gould has devoted an entire show to one of her favorite genres — abstract art. “It’s something different for the Vineyard,” says the gallery owner. “I love abstract art.”

This year the gallery is featuring six artists in a show called “Vignettes.” All are either part-time or full-time Vineyarders, and all are offering affordable pieces. That is where any similarity among the group ends. Represented in the show are works in monotypes, acrylics, watercolors, mixed media with paper, fabric collage, and photography.

Martha Mae Jones is a fabric artist who uses remnants of silk, cotton, rayon, bamboo, hemp, and other fibers to make art. Her colorful works are made entirely of textiles — covering every square inch of canvas.

“I use fabric the way a painter uses paint,” says Jones. “I just follow my muse. I never know in advance what’s going to come out. It is challenging and exciting to integrate these seemingly disparate fragments of fabric into harmonious and metaphorical narratives.”

The examples on display in “Vignettes” are wonderful studies in color and composition. It’s on close inspection that one can truly appreciate all of the intricate details of the patterns in the various fabrics. For the current show, Jones has focused on flowers, pulling large floral sections from patterned prints and building backgrounds in an almost quilted fashion.

Jones earned a master’s degree in sociology before turning to fashion design. She studied weaving in Sweden, and owned and operated boutiques in New York City for 25 years. She continues to make and sell clothing, creating artwork as a sideline. She primarily sold her collage pieces to friends before being asked to show at the Louisa Gould Gallery. Her work has proven very popular in the three years she has participated in the abstract show.

Like Jones, Jo-Anne Bates builds up her abstract pieces from scraps, in her case folded paper, glue, shredded junk mail, and multiple layers of ink. And in a similar fashion, Bates has no idea where each piece is headed until she starts the collage process.

As well as an artist, Bates is an arts educator who lives in Pittsburgh for most of the year. Her latest series of mixed-media monotype prints was inspired by a visit to South Africa, where she was impressed with the color and textures of the country.

Each piece reflects a complex sculptural pattern formed into an interesting shape. Some contain almost hidden text on race, women, and conversations on the human condition. For example, one vibrantly colored piece reads “Red, Black, Yellow It Don’t Matter.”

Both Michaele Christian and Roberta Gross work in the monoprint medium. In Christian’s work, faces, flowers, trees, or other almost identifiable images seem to emerge from colorful abstractions. She uses her work to express imagery as well as her political views.

Gross creates interesting line patterns in her work by utilizing things like Christmas tinsel, onion bags, rug runners, and solvent. Her process allows her to transfer to her prints both a sense of energy and strong composition.

Likewise, painter Chetta Kelly is also an experimenter, who layers watercolors and acrylics, sometimes creating on YUPO — a synthetic, waterproof paper. Some of her images evoke land or seascapes. Others are pure abstraction.

Proving that photography can be abstract too, Laura Roosevelt finds interesting images in reflections on the water. Sometimes she finds something relatable in the reflected images, as in the photos titled “Barn” and “Desert.”

“I’ve learned to recognize promising patterns on the water’s surface, and sometimes I’ll take several dozen shots of one spot in hopes of getting one that works as a piece of art,” Roosevelt writes in her artist’s statement. “Back at home, I use Lightroom to crop and enhance my images. I think of the entire process as ‘painting with my camera.’”

“Vignettes,” the 11th annual invitational abstract group show featuring work by Michaele Christian, Roberta Gross, Martha Mae Jones, Laura Roosevelt, Chetta Kelley, and Jo-Ann Bates. Louisa Gould Gallery, 54 Main St., Vineyard Haven. Show will hang until Sept. 12.