By Gwyn McAllister
The Eisenhauer Gallery in Edgartown has always been known for the diversity of the work on display. From abstract to realism, from landscapes to figurative art, the one thing you won’t find on the walls of the light-filled gallery is anything ordinary.
Now in her 20th year of showcasing art on the Vineyard, Elizabeth Eisenhauer has added two new artists to the mix, and each brings something new and exciting to art lovers visiting either in person or online.
The two newest additions to the gallery, Janice Frame and Janet McGreel, both represent a style that Eisenhauer is particularly attracted to. She says, “I am drawn to work that is saturated with color, soulful and thick spontaneous texture, and especially unexpected subjects.”
Janice Frame’s mixed-media work features portraits of Black men and women arrayed in colorful headdresses, facial decorations, jewelry, and other adornments. Traditional African garb and natural embellishments, as well as patterned paper backgrounds and other mixed-media details give the work a highly decorative feel, while the masterfully rendered faces pack a highly personal, emotional punch.
Of the artist’s work, Eisenhauer writes, “Janice Frame’s work is unexpected and soulful. Ladened with shells and decorative paper, she captures the wildness and fragility of her subjects — qualities we often hide from the public, but emotions we all long to feel. Her paintings linger in your mind like the deep rhythm of a favorite song.”
For the past 30 years Frame has taught art in the Vineyard school system. Previously she showed a series of African-inspired dolls at the Cousen Rose Gallery. One of the dolls was purchased by Bill and Hillary Clinton, and one was featured in a Howard University group show.
In her artist’s statement, Frame writes, “As an African-American artist in today’s world, I embody the vast differences found in our collective backgrounds. I view them as cultural assets. The connection of one’s own rich heritage and personal growth will travel into the inevitable and critical connection between African Americans and Africa. My work, I hope, will serve as a creative connection between the African diaspora and Western culture. It is this connection that causes my creative forces to react.”
The other artist new to the Eisenhauer Gallery, Janet McGreal, also creates stylized images. In McGreal’s case, her work offers a very bold aesthetic that reflects pop art or color block painting. The work currently on view on the Vineyard features huge, solid-colored, flower-based designs, offering a visual treat of shape and color. Each image was created using boarding passes that were enlarged, reconstructed, and manipulated into patterns.
McGreal, who also creates bronze and steel sculpture, has a very contemporary approach to art. The flower series, like the artist’s other work, is less about the actual subject than a study in form and color. The simple flower images that repeat over and over in different colors and from different perspectives could just as easily be seen as cogs connecting and interacting with one another.
Eisenhauer displays how each viewer will have his or her own perspective on the images, as she writes, “Janet’s work is bold and sharp. Common flowers are thrust loudly toward the viewer, capturing our attention to question, Is this work abstract or representational? Blocks of color remind us of Coco Chanel or the radiant ochre of Hermès.”
The two latest additions to the Eisenhauer Gallery’s stable of artists will be featured along with dozens of others, many of whom have already earned a loyal following on the Vineyard and beyond.