Louisa Gould Gallery and the art of abstraction


Ever since opening her Vineyard Haven gallery 18 years ago, Louisa Gould has been dedicated to showing abstract work along with the large range of media and styles that she represents. “I love abstract art work,” she says. “It frees your imagination. A good abstract work will hold your attention yet provide your mind room for expansiveness.”

Throughout the years Gould has gathered together a number of artists working in abstraction to show on a regular basis at her gallery, and she has also provided visitors with an even larger collection through her annual “Journeys in Abstraction” show. Not one to forgo the show because of the constraints of the pandemic, this year the curated exhibit will be available for view primarily online, with seven artists represented.

A wide range of styles are in evidence in the show, from pure abstraction to images with representational elements. “I think everyone in the show has strong compositional skills and really takes their art very seriously,” says Roberta Gross, who curated the show and contributed her own work. “The unifying factor is that they all capture a sense of joy.”

Gross herself has provided a handful of colorfully uplifting images. Examples from her series titled “Tendrils” are flower-based pastel and acrylic images whose bold lines and vivid, layered colors provide a strong statement with a graphic quality. Her oversize flowers fill the frame, spilling off the edges, while snake-like tendrils add a sense of motion. The press release accompanying the exhibit states, “By limiting her subject, Gross can concentrate on the unique qualities of pastel to ‘paint’ in soft but gorgeous shades of blues, greens, yellows, and purples.”

Marsha Staiger uses strong colors in a very different manner. Her bold acrylic paintings are based on striations of color in interesting combinations. It’s what lies beneath the horizontal or vertical bars that adds depth and mystery to her work. She builds up each piece through a process of layering, creating a screen of sorts through which the viewer gets a glimpse of partially obscured forms and markings. In the case of a heptatych (made up of seven individual panels) titled “Atmosphere,” the artist continues the banding theme by creating individual abstract paintings that line up horizontally as a grouping.

Susan Morosky’s work is full of motion and energy. Her canvases are full of quick brushstrokes providing a whirlwind of color and form. Still, there’s a sense of order from chaos in her work, in which she strives to capture nature in an active way. In her artist statement, Morosky writes, “For me, making art is a journey to understand the natural world through the observance of movement, form, and color. It’s my approach to visual discovery.”

The artist who perhaps takes the most interesting approach to her work, Joan Konkel, incorporates metal and mesh in her multimedia pieces in order to play with light, texture, and perception. The painted mesh overlays partially blur the images beneath and also serve to draw and reflect light. Gould, who showed her own abstract work along with Konkel at Art Basel two years ago, says, “As you move as the light changes, the piece moves.” It is hard to get a real feel for this type of work in an online exhibit but, luckily, the artist has provided a few pieces — both mixed-media hanging art and sculpture — for view at the gallery.

Michaele Christian is showing both monotypes and works in ink. Although some of her pieces are flower- or botanical-based, the most striking examples of her work are pure abstraction. She often leans toward a darker palette, evoking depth and mystery. For the show, Christian, who as well as an artist is an oncologist working out of Washington, D.C. (and a part-time Vineyarder), has contributed a striking piece that comments on racial strife in this country. “Black Lives Matter” features a combination of geometric forms and loose red brushstrokes against a yellow and turquoise background with names of victims of police violence inserted here and there throughout the piece. The mixed-media work is both a strong statement and a vivid and skillful work of art.

For the “Journeys in Abstraction” show, Gross, who teaches abstract painting at Featherstone and elsewhere, has gathered together an impressive array of work by accomplished artists — each with a singular vision. An online exhibit is always challenging, but one of the nice things about being able to revisit the work multiple times through the digital medium is that abstract works tend to reveal more and more with each viewing.

Gould notes that any of the work can be shipped to the gallery or to a client’s home for viewing. Those interested in a specific piece can also send in a picture of a room or space in their home, or provide dimensions, for a photoshop simulation.

“Journeys in Abstraction,” an online exhibit featuring the work of Michaele Christian, Susan Morosky, Joan Konkel, Marsha Staiger, Alan Klawans, and Roberta Gross, will be available for online viewing through Dec. 1. The Louisa Gould Gallery also hosts a show of new works by a number of Gould’s most popular artists in the gallery.