The informal artists circle that is presenting an online exhibit via the West Tisbury library this month describes their group show as “8 Women, 4 Seasons, 1 Art Show.” They could also add two years to the numerical subtitle as that’s the timeframe that the work on offer represents. (There will also be a live outdoor showing of the work at Featherstone on Oct. 18.)
The eight women, many of whom met through the Featherstone Center for the Arts, have been painting together, meeting up to discuss their art, and working towards the ultimate goal of a group show since 2018.
“We paint onsite when we can. We have gathered the whole group together at least once a month to discuss our work suggestions,” says member Katy Upson. “We learn a lot, not only about painting, but about personalities and what motivates people. I think that’s an important part of the group. It’s been a wonderful experience. We’re all such individuals, but the one thing we have in common is that we’re all quite focused on painting and being supportive of each other.”
The group is made up of artists who represent diverse age groups as well as a range of levels from accomplished professionals to emerging artists.
The participants include Dale Weymouth Julier, Ruth Kirchmeier, Wenonah Madison, Diana Rice, Judith Drew Schubert, Lizzy Schule, Elizabeth Taft, and Katy Upson.
The styles range from Diana Rice’s charming simplified realism found in scenes from New York City life to Upson’s impressionist views of the Vineyard, which capture the color and mood of Island landmarks. Among other work, Upson has contributed two colorful paintings done onsite at the Polly Hill Arboretum. These works done with simple brushstrokes and a masterful eye for light and shadow truly beckon the viewer in. In the past Upson has provided a few paintings of specific trees for the arboretum and it’s clear that she has a passion for this peaceful sanctuary brimming with color.
Beloved Vineyard artist Ruth Kirchmeier provides perhaps the most distinctive vision of the group with her intricate multi-layered woodcuts depicting simple scenes of rural life — both interiors and exteriors — done with imagination and a wonderful sense of pattern and motion. A standout in the show, “Geese at Carl’s Cove,” spotlights a brilliant sun whose jagged rays emanate out to fill the entire twilight sky with magical beams and sparkles.
Wenonah Madison, a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) with Vineyard roots stretching back for generations, has contributed a handful of figurative studies — some honoring the traditions of her ancestors. Her cranberry gathering images are done in a wonderful painterly fashion with lots of texture and a masterful use of perspective.
In her artist’s statement Dale Julier, who says she is returning to painting after many years, writes, “I don’t believe that I have yet created an identifiable style as I am constantly trying something new, experimenting with colors, new subjects, exploring different techniques, or reviewing and digesting the works of some of my favorite artists.” That sense of exploration can be seen in her various contributions to the show. Perhaps the most interesting are two images of Black Point in full summer glory. Both are minimalist studies in color, abstraction, and line. One can almost see her evolution into simple, more abstracted imagery in these two paintings where the effective scant detail in “Black Point Summer” has been abandoned in favor or pure color field effect in “Black Point Study.”
Successful Island artist Liz Taft works exclusively en plein air, capturing her Vineyard scenes with a sense of immediacy and emotion. Her painting “Lucy Vincent 2020” gives the iconic landscape all of its due in majesty and mystery with just the minimum of quick brushstrokes. The glimpse of a peachy orange sun in the far right hand corner adds the perfect offsetting color to the spectacular image.
Judy Drew Schubert designed and made patterned fabrics and hand block printed clothing for many years before turning her attention to painting. Her design sense is in evidence in her lovely soft focus Vineyard landscapes, although she also displays a real aptitude for detail and perspective in her moody monochromatic study “First Snow”.
Lizzy Schule’s love of color and texture and the sense of joy reflected in her work have earned her a dedicated following as an artist and Featherstone instructor. In the seven paintings featured in the show, she honors all aspects of the Vineyard’s natural bounty — from seascapes to lush fields to forest and flower studies. For her artist’s statement she chose to use the story of how she met each of the other seven artists in a lovely tribute to their friendship and collaboration. In the conclusion she writes, “And so the circle is now complete. The seasons cycle round again, and it seems as if certain people reappear in our lives for good reason. Here we are — eight women who have come together through art.”
Art of the Seasons, a virtual art show presented by the West Tisbury Library Virtual Gallery will be available through Oct. 31; wtlibraryvirtualgallery.org. The show will also be on view live outdoors at Featherstone on Oct. 18 from 12 to 3 pm.