Louisa Gould Gallery sails into summer with first exhibit of the season

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The Louisa Gould Gallery has officially opened for the summer season. Last Monday, June 8, the first day that Phase 2 allowed for galleries to open their doors to the public, Gould welcomed visitors to her spacious gallery, which, at 2,000 square feet, has plenty of room for social distancing.

Preparing for the reopening, the gallerist and photographer had already hung her annual “Sail Into Summer” show, and the response has already been very positive. Among the 11 artists who are represented in the current exhibit are three who are brand-new to the gallery. They are joined by a selection of some of Gould’s most popular regulars, whose work encompasses many styles and media. Some longtime favorites among the gallery’s customers, like John Holladay, Peter Batchelder, and Rick Fleury, are showing new work, along with artists such as Adair Peck and Theresa Girard, who are offering smaller works that fall into the very affordable range, providing an inclusive selection.

Among the artists new to the Louisa Gould Gallery are two who work in abstraction — Wooley Dutton and Kevin Gilmore.

Dutton, who splits her time between Florida and Jamestown, R.I., has only recently switched her focus to creating fine art. For many years she co-owned and operated an advertising agency in Boston. “I retired from my professional job in 2013,” she says. “I’ve always felt my job was painting.”

If the examples of her work found at Louisa Gould’s are any indication, Dutton was absolutely right when she made the decision to change careers. The artist works in a variety of styles from abstract to realism, and in the case of the work included in the exhibition, she often combines the two approaches effectively.

Among Dutton’s paintings on display are a few portraits and a handful of wildlife paintings. In both cases, although the images are clearly recognizable, the artist has used color in a creative way to add an abstract element and to bring life and energy to the work. For one of her larger portraits, Dutton selected B.B. King as her subject. The image is a close-up of the blues artist’s face, with just the neck of his guitar visible. Although his eyes are closed, the musician’s look of concentration and pure pleasure is evident. The blues, purples, and reds of King’s face contrast well with the pale green background.

For some smaller works, Dutton chose to depict a few of the employees working at the property in Costa Rica where the artist spent a residency in February. In these portraits, Dutton uses color in an even more dramatic way, making bold, surprising choices to show emotion. The portraits are lively, and clearly show the individuality of each of her subjects. “I always capture the eyes first,” says Dutton. “It’s about capturing their personality, their soul, and creating this really colorful portrait.”

Gould has also selected a few of Dutton’s bird paintings for the summer show, including some lovely images of waterfowl against colorful backdrops, and a couple of roosters executed with a more realistic palette, but still showing abstract qualities in the choice of geometric backdrops.

When switching from design work to fine art, Dutton was initially interested in pursuing purely representational art. However, after attending an abstract workshop with artist Theresa Girard (who also shows at Gould’s gallery), she found herself heading in a different direction. “I thought I would go down the path of figurative realism,” Dutton recalls. “After the abstract course, I came away with a completely different idea. I started taking that mentality and jumping off a cliff. It led to so many interesting results that furthered my painting ability. I would not be doing portraits like these if I hadn’t taken that course.”

Kevin Gilmore works in purely abstract images, in a style completely different from Dutton’s. He calls his work “collage assemblages,” which he creates by working in layers, starting with found objects.

His work has an architectural feel to it, incorporating a lot of straight lines, angles, and geometric forms. Not surprisingly, Gilmore has an affinity for the construction process. With his smaller pieces on display at the gallery, he actually started with pages from an old building manual that belonged to his grandfather. He then overlaid other elements in acrylic paint, while keeping some of the architectural blueprints and text from the book visible. Gilmore also often includes sections of wood in the perimeter of his small works in a process that, in his words, “subverts the edges of the canvas.”

“I consider these two-and-a-half-dimensional pieces,” he explains. “My goal is to invite the viewer to inspect all sides.”

As well as painting, Gilmore is also a composer. In his work he has found a way to incorporate his interests. “My inquiry throughout grad school was linking the two spheres of visual art and sonic art,” he says. “I use groupings of colors that I see almost like a visual melody. Not a literal translation, more of the interpretations from sound waves into visual waves. We all get a sense of harmony and dissonance, and I think that can happen visually as well. If you can create a melody on the piano, I like to see how I can go into the studio and do that exact process with color.”

Jack Yuen, who was born and raised on the Vineyard, only recently joined the Louisa Gould stable of artists. With his colorful wildlife paintings, Yuen aims to capture the character and spirit of the Vineyard’s unique landscape and ecological features in a heightened form of realism. From a brightly colored crab to the unique formation of Waskosim’s Rock to a swarm of monarch butterflies sailing along the Aquinnah Cliffs, the young artist celebrates nature in all of its vibrancy.

Along with paintings, the “Sail Into Summer” show also features ceramics by Jennifer McCurdy, bronze sculpture by Brian Arthur, botanical collages by Peggy Turner-Zablotny, and jewelry by various artists.

Louisa Gould Gallery, 54 Main St., Vineyard Haven. Open daily from 11 am to 5 pm, and by appointment, 508-693-7373.