“I like to support and promote women artists, because sometimes I feel like they get overlooked,” says curatorial assistant for contemporary art Katherine Love, as we walk through the museum’s European and American Art galleries toward the piece she’s chosen for her staff pick.
She stops at Helen Frankenthaler’s Candle (1977), a tall, narrow painting that seems to hide in a slight shadow between a glass case and a doorframe at the end of the Modernism gallery. Making it even easier to overlook, Candle hangs across from the Morris Louis painting Turning, which tends to dwarf everything else in the room.
When choosing her staff pick, Love says, “I wanted to showcase something recent, from the late 20th Century,” something that would demonstrate modern painting techniques. An artist herself, Love first discovered Frankenthaler when she was working on her B.A. in Art and Dramatic Arts at U.C. Santa Barbara (she went on to earn an M.F.A. from U.H. Mānoa as well). Love says that Frankenthaler stood out because “she was one of the few female artists associated with American abstract expressionism to emerge and become well-known during the 1950s.”
Currently experimenting with acrylic paint, both as a thin wash and as a more thickly layered surface in her own work, Love says “it’s a pleasure to be able to get up close to [Candle] and see how Frankenthaler herself has handled the paint.” In Candle, Love finds that “parts of the candle form are rendered with very thin layers of acrylic, while others are more thickly painted. The vertical format of the canvas suits the candle subject very well—the canvas almost becoming a candle itself, with the way the paint has dripped down the surface,” she adds.
Katherine Love’s art is displayed regularly around the island. She currently has two paintings up now at the Aloha Ho‘omaluhia XXXI exhibition at Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Gardens in Kāne‘ohe.
Helen Frankenthaler (American, 1928-2011)
Acrylic on canvas
Gift of Barbara Higgins in honor of her son,
Ron Higgins, 2010 (14259.1)