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Female artists dominate the galleries


“Kicking Abstract and Taking Names”

“Stream of History” by Sarah Grant – 30” x 30” – acrylic on paper

The autumn art season kicked off with female artists dominating the galleries. Drake’s Anderson Gallery hosted “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” with an accompanying poster show and pair of lectures. Olson Larsen Galleries will present “Women’s Work” beginning Oct. 11 through Nov. 30. That show will include Diana Behl, Jen P. Harris, Anna Lambrini Moisisades, Catherine Reinhart, April South-Olson, Molly Spain, Priscilla Steele and Allsion Svobada. It will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the always-female-owned gallery.

Moberg Gallery is already exhibiting “Kicking Abstract and Taking Names,” which includes 13 women working in abstract painting. One is from Iowa, one from Massachusetts, one from Los Angeles, two from Colorado, two from Chicago, two from New York City, two from Europe and three from Canada. Yet their work is far more remarkably similar than diverse. All work big, most with bold pallets. One of them at the opening commented that she thought she had walked back into the 1960s, when everyone wanted to be the next Pollack, Krasner or Diebenkorn.

Johanne Brouillette from Quebec is a convert to abstraction after many years as a landscape painter. Curator Conn Ryder describes her work as “a dance of sort, possessing a strong sense of rhythm and recalling her background in figurative painting.” Margaret Fitzgerald was born in London and grew up in Japan and America. Her works are huge and emotional, like the titles she gives them — “Echo” and “The Wind.”

Sarah Grant is the singular local artist in the show. The creator of Sticks, an artsy furniture factory, began her career in printmaking. She still wonders why she can’t paint with just black and white. Her abstract paintings have been both narrative and non-narrative and are farther from just black and white than any artist’s in the show. Titles (“Tenting on the Snake” and “Stream of History”) suggest stories are being told. Dana James of New York presents large multi-paneled paintings that Ryder says contrast “soft poured areas and scribbles with hard edges.”

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Anita Jung was raised in Chicago and now is a professor of art at the University of Iowa. Her heavily layered paintings are the most playful in the exhibition. Trixie Pitts is a Canadian who lived in Hong Kong, New York City and London before settling in Nashville. Her “Light Brigade” and “Storm Chasing” seem ironically titled as their soft colors lack all the violence and dread of her subjects.

Ellen Rolli is a Massachusetts painter and puzzle maker teasing viewers with the possibilities of narrative. She uses more white than other colors and dramatically adds colors. Ryder is a Denver and Kansas City woman who also shows huge multi-paneled works of lovely colored acrylics and oils. “I’m Not Going to Be Ignored, Dan!” and “Warrior Breeze” suggest that some defiance might break out of the soft pallet. Karen Scharer is the other Colorado painter in the show. She brings a 17-year career in technology and a background in forestry to her easel. Her works are dominated with her brushstrokes.

Julie Schumer is an Angelino living now in Santa Fe. She is a self-taught, and her paintings “Coastal Rhythms” and “Dreamscapes” appear to reflect upon both California and Native American moods. Daniela Schweinsberg is a German painter whose “Through Rose Colored Glasses” and “Supersonic” are gorgeous displays of limited pallet work.

Alayne Spafford of Canada combines geometric patterns with abstract playfulness. Pamela Staker is a Chicago woman whose big bold patterns suggest “a subject that is no longer needed” in Ryder’s words.

This show plays through Oct. 18. ♦

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