When Ingrid Lundgren and George Newall opened the pop-up Winter Street Gallery this past July, their idea was to diversify their selection of contemporary art as much as possible. So far the couple have hosted four distinct exhibits, and now, with their fifth, they have brought in an outside curator — Brigitte Mulholland, director of New York City’s Anton Kern Gallery, to bring another perspective to Islanders interested in cutting-edge art.
“We’re so excited to have Brigitte curate a show for us,” said Lundgren right before the exhibit was officially unveiled. “There’s already been a ripple of excitement.”
The show, for which Mulholland chose the title “A Zigzag Over Essence” from a line in a poem by Wisława Szymborska, features the work of five women artists, four from New York and one from London. They are all artists whom the curator has worked with or has a professional relationship with.
Ellen Berkenblit is a NYC-based artist who is represented by the Anton Kern Gallery. Her portraits of women feature striking, unexpected color combinations — muted or pastel shades with pops of neon, simple spare lines, and surprising perspectives. The painting “Hattie” is part of a continuing series called “Sistergarden” that the artist showed in New York in March. The portrait shows the cropped-off profile of a woman, mouth wide open, done in a sort of pop art/cartoon style. The painting really grabs your attention. Her other contribution to the Winter Street exhibit, “Freckles,” has a collage quality to it, with hot pinks and patterned sections alternating with images like a boot and a butterfly. This large-scale painting combines the abstract and the representational in a wholly modern manner.
Katherine Bradford has exhibited internationally as well as at shows at MoMA PS1, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, and others. The two paintings of Bradford’s included in the current exhibition show figures executed in a primitive style set against horizontally striped backgrounds. In “Outside in Summer,” blue stripes represent the ocean in which three male bathers are standing, while “Person with Colors” shows a genderless figure whose torso, as well as the backdrop, is made up of richly colored stripes.
In Tamara Gonzales’ two small paintings, “Golden Vision” and “Dreamstate,” vine and leaflike forms morph into faces that fill the entire canvas. Her work has a highly stylized appeal, yet also echoes primitive masks or totem designs.
Russian-born artist Vera Iliatova creates dreamscapes populated by women in motion whose movements and juxtaposition suggest mysterious narratives. The two paintings on view at the Winter Street Gallery represent two ends of the palette spectrum. “Drift” features a bounty of colorful flowers in the foreground partially obscuring a scene of two women bent down to help a third, seated woman. There’s a sense of kindness, hope, and beauty to the image. “Once More, with Feeling” has more of a dark and secretive air about it. Done in shades of gray and muted colors, the painting shows a group of women who seem to be connected yet disconnected at the same time. Some are standing, some walking with heads down, one is kneeling to pick up papers that are strewn throughout the scene. There’s a desolate feeling to the image, although what also comes across is a sense of community.
The one international artist in the show, sculptor Francis Upritchard, was born and raised in New Zealand and now resides in London. In 2009 Upritchard was selected to represent New Zealand at the Venice Biennale.
For the Winter Street show she is exhibiting two examples of her work based on human figures — the seated “Desert Hippy” and the lying figure “Lucky Cat Nap.” The small steel sculptures show realistic human forms dressed, respectively, in a bright orange pullover jacket and white pajamas, but their faces are distorted and their skin painted in unusual colors and decorated with designs. Upritchard is the most daring of the artists represented in the show, and the only sculptor.
Each of the five women has a style all her own, yet their various images work very well together as an exhibit. As a whole, the show represents some of the most interesting contemporary visions in the art world today.
“One of the things that we have wanted to do from the beginning is to bring in a range of different voices,” says Newall. “While we have a particular vision for the artists we like, one of the things we find to be fun is to involve other collaborators to expand the purview of where we’re going so it isn’t just a monosyllabic vision.”
The gallery will remain open at least through the end of the year, with a holiday show, featuring work in a variety of price points, planned for November and December. The co-owners are already working out ideas for 2021 exhibits, so maybe the Island’s newest gallery will become a permanent fixture in Edgartown.
“Zig Zag Over Essence,” featuring work by Ellen Berkenblit, Katherine Bradford, Tamara Gonzales, Vera Iliatova, and Francis Upritchard, will hang from Sept. 24 to Oct. 25 at the Winter Street Gallery, 22 Winter St., Edgartown.