Driven to abstraction

Louisa Gould exhibits works from last fall’s artists residency.

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For the past two years Louisa Gould, owner of the Louisa Gould Gallery, has been running an artists’ residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (ACA) in Florida. This year she is presenting the work of the eight artists (including herself) who participated in the residency last November in a show titled “Abstracts Abound.” The work can be viewed online as well as in person, with a selection from the exhibit currently hanging at the gallery on Main Street, Vineyard Haven.

“I didn’t have the idea until we were there,” says Gould of her decision to host an exhibit of the residents’ work. “I felt like the quality and the level of the work was good enough to show.”

Gould explains that the one-week residency is restricted to mid-career full-time artists, and focuses exclusively on abstract work. It is not a workshop offering instruction, but is intended to offer a focused period for artists to dedicate to creating new work, away from the cares and distractions of everyday life.

Gould, known primarily for her photography, was first invited to participate as a resident in 2018. The following year Theresa Girard, the artist who originally ran the residency, asked the gallerist to take over for her.

Gould explains that she gave up a successful career in finance to open a gallery and focus on her own art. During her years as a banker in NYC, she took classes at the Art Students League and other places, and painted when she could. She then switched her focus to photography following her participation in the America’s Cup yacht race, establishing herself as a sports and travel photographer. She notes that her time at the ACA has rekindled her passion for painting.

During the 2020 residency, Gould worked on three separate series of abstract paintings. For the exhibit she has selected work from her “Graffiti” series, featuring bright colors, bold black lines, paint splatters, and stick figures. The mixed-media work is vibrant and joyful. “It’s pure fun and experimentation,” she says of the “Graffiti” paintings. “It was so inspiring to work on, so freeing. The other work was more intense.”

Each of the other seven artists represented in the show has a distinctive style. Rhenda Saporito shows a micro perspective with lots of different elements, including small sections of bright color and scratch marks, while Wooley Dutton, who regularly shows both abstract and representational work at the Louisa Gould Gallery, works more in broad strokes and a soft-focus approach. Terri Dilling has limited her palette to soft shades of blue, while Vickie Marsango employs a full range of colors

Some of the most powerful images come from Atlanta-based artist Garnet Reardon, who was born in Northern Ireland and was forced to leave with her family during the Troubles in that country. There are dark elements, as well as somewhat of a sense of chaos, with energetic lines and squiggles featured prominently. Reardon’s paintings are appealingly dynamic. In her artist statement she writes, “My art depicts this layering of patterns to create a visual representation of how it looks and feels to be alive, breathing, and fully engaged.”

Gould has always supported abstract artists, hosting an annual show featuring abstraction at the end of every summer. She, herself, is very drawn to abstract imagery in her own work. For this show she chose the most playful series of paintings from her time at the Florida residency. “I was having fun with these,” she says. “I was happy.” Having a break from her busy life on the Vineyard may have had something to do with her state of mind. “The artist’s residency forces me to paint,” she says. “For me, it’s amazing to have this dedicated time to focus on craft.”

“Abstracts Abound: Artists in Residency” will be available online through April 1. Some, though not all, of the images by each of the eight artists will also be on display at the gallery. Visit louisagould.com for more information.