Vonder Gray at WAV
Vonder Gray's exhibition of new work at the WAV is an important show for this artist, the WAV and the greater Ventura art community. Continuing her recent forays into improvisational abstraction, featuring large, sometimes unstretched, paintings on canvas, the new work is more open, expansive, confident, and larger in conception.
The emphasis on large scale and the openness of the striated forms brings a greater visual clarity to the work. For many painters and approaches to painting, the ability to introduce or sustain a sense of openness in a painting is one of the more difficult things to achieve. In Grey's case, it allows her intentions and meaning to come through more effectively. We see the action and sense of her hand more clearly.
This series of work explores a greater variety of chromatic tonalities than much of her previous abstract work, though her earlier figurative work was not afraid of trying challenging chromatic combinations and variety.
The sum of all this means this exhibition displays a greater maturity in the artist's late style, something most every artist wishes to achieve, but often remains just that, a wish.
Gray is also a resident at the WAV and recently has become more involved as a curator as well as an artist. This is in line with Gray's past, which has often witnessed a great generosity on Gray's part, especially toward younger women artists, many of whom she has assisted or helped in important ways over the years. She has been a much-loved mentor to artists, and sought-after companion for others, known for speaking her mind.
The show is well-hung, effectively using the WAV space, an exhibition venue that has witnessed more than its fair share of horribly designed shows. It is a good sign that Vonder Gray, one of Ventura's more independent and community-oriented artists should have such a mature and well-done show at this time, a great example of hope and emotional strength so soon after the terrible Thomas Fire which has devastated the community on so many levels, especially psychologically.
It is a show with a clear sense of self and direction at a time when a sense of direction and leadership in the local art scene, even before the fire, seemed otherwise at low ebb. Perhaps others will be inspired, or use the WAV space as effectively, or get their work out there in other ways that strengthen the Ventura arts community. It is a show of hope for a community that sorely needs to rebuild and refuel itself.