‘Textures and Patterns’ open to interpretation


The title of Featherstone Center for the Arts’ new exhibition couldn’t be more straightforward: ‘Textures and Patterns.” The resulting 120 works stimulate a visceral reaction as we move from one artwork to another, and figure out how each of the 75 artists interprets the theme.

As usual with the community shows, the art represents a wide variety of mediums. Stained glass, paper, ceramic, mosaic, beads and precious metal, encaustic (colored clays or pigments mixed with hot wax), found objects, wood, gouache, India ink, watercolor, seaweed, colored pencil, charcoal, crayon, acrylic and oil paints, and photographs hang in the light-filled gallery.

“Our goal this year was to make our themes as open and inclusive as possible so that our artists would create their unique interpretations,” Featherstone executive director Ann Smith says of the show. “There is no right answer (nor wrong answer)! The themes have inspired a wonderfully diverse palette for the artists and for art appreciators to admire and purchase.”

The art in this newest show also varies widely in approach. Some artists work with recognizable imagery. There is Rebecca S. Everett’s delectable-looking, extreme close-up of four squash halves lined up, and their interior pattern of seeds inside. Denys Wortman’s drone-shot photograph of Lucy Vincent Beach draws our eyes to the patterns made by the receding cliffs and the white foam of the waves lapping up along the long strip of sand reaching all the way to the tip of the Island.

Another fascinating photograph is L.A. Brown’s intriguing “Beyond Beyond,” in which an actual wood frame physically frames the view of a large, vertical window on a wood-shingled shack, through which we peer into the raw-wood interior back to the substantial horizontal window on the far wall that itself frames the distant landscape beyond.

Sheila Fane’s mixed-media “Country Scene” is equally captivating, and straddles the realism/abstraction divide. She combines pieces of a linocut print, monotypes, and some handmade paper, each of which holds part of the horizontal composition depicting a farm in the middle of vast fields and what appear to be distant mountains and a blue sky running across the top. Another intriguing piece that mixes realism and abstraction is the hanging square of fabric art by Saundra LaBell, “The Cliffs.” Here we look at the scene as though we are hovering over the water lapping up on the shore of the warm-colored Aquinnah Cliffs, held in place with the dazzling Van Gogh–type sky. She describes each element with an intricate array of patterned fabrics, which, together, create an amazingly cohesive whole. Grace Stribling-Hough’s acrylic painting approaches the same subject of the Cliffs with sharp, straight-edged geometric shapes that create a kaleidoscopic effect. At the end of the spectrum is Harriet Bernstein’s completely abstract acrylic painting of variously colored squares and rectangles that seem to abstractly allude to her title, “Weathered Song.”

There are some particularly interesting choices of media like an amusingly funky found-object sculpture of a mysterious creature titled “Jeremiah” by David Joseph, as well as his assemblage of what looks like a section of a few shelves from a bookcase stocked with tomes which, lying flat, shifts into a composition of interesting patterns and irregular texture. There’s Judith Drew Schubert’s very patterned giclée print, “Crows in Quince,” which she created by using a digital printing process that transferred the same mesmerizing composition from her pastel on paper piece onto the substantial canvas.

Paul Hughes has two stunning stained-glass works in which the natural light from outside illuminates the fractured colors of his totally abstract compositions — the Celtic-looking design in “Glass Knot,” and “Mountain Peaks,” which recalls traditional Tibetan weaving. Among the pieces made with wood is Joanna McCarthy’s “Rock Steady,” in which she has painted an arresting silhouette in black acrylic of the singer Aretha Franklin onto a substantial vertical slab of reclaimed barn wood whose knots and grain physically carry both pattern and texture.

The variety of textiles was particularly notable, with some uncommon submissions. Caryl Dearing’s fabulous knit cowl, “A Meadow of Flowers from Above,” is made up of row upon row of multicolored wool yarn. “It’s Summer Somewhere” stops you in your tracks. A manikin sporting Helen Hall and Zoe Thompson’s hand-knit beach outfit of a hat, bikini, bag, and sarong fashioned of a cotton-acrylic blend makes for an intriguing interpretation of the show’s theme. Judith Drew Schubert contributes hand-block printed flora and fauna patterns on fabric, which she fashioned into two very covetable pillows.

There are plenty more engaging works in the Francine Kelly Gallery, and walking out, straight ahead you will see Charlotte Cole’s enormous quilt, titled “Day Dreams.” Her intricate and spectacular combination of color and shape is the quintessential embodiment of pattern and texture — a perfect finale to the exhibition.

“Textures and Patterns” at Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs is open every day through May 7, from 12 to 4 pm.