Heather Day: Things We Hold
A ONE NIGHT exhibition for 2 Blocks Of Art
Friday, October 10, 2014 from 4-8pm
66 6th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Lyrical Abstraction gained momentum in the 1960s and 70s, extending the post-war modernist aesthetic but also reacting against it, moving away from geometric, hard-edge minimal styles toward the intuitive and spontaneous. The “lyric abstractionists” sought to expand the abstract tradition, and to reinvigorate stoic (and at this point stagnant?) American art with painterly, loose, and lyrical expression. Rather than use color and line to represent philosophical theories or sociopolitical realities, these artists sought to use color and line aesthetically to create a poetic experience. “[C]learly indebted to Jackson Pollock’s “dripped painting” and Mark Rothko’s stained, color forms…this movement was born out of a desire to create a direct physical and sensory experience of painting through their monumentality and emphasis on color – forcing the viewer to “read” paintings literally as things.”
Now, in 2014, Heather Day is the quintessential heir of the Lyrical Abstractionists. Her list of influences (Cy Twombly, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler) reads like a list of precursors and practitioners of the movement. The stained raw canvasses, the gestural “writing,” the polygonal washes of color, the drips, energetic strokes, and staccato marks allude to her predecessors but don’t mimic them. These paintings, viewed together, stand out as a cohesive body of work with its own identity- the intent and poetic vision of a single artist is clearly, almost tangibly, present.
Day starts with raw canvas, sometimes stitched together with the seams becoming part of the composition- the launch point in fact. She immediately marks it so as to eliminate the stifling phenomenon of the “blank page.” Once a seam, line, or gesture is present, she then responds to it, or answers it. Day describes her process: “Every mark creates a series of expectations similar to a conversation. When a question is asked, an answer is anticipated.” The result is a layered, highly textural canvas on which a form (or body or idea) appears to float in the center. The texture and palette of these pieces are undeniably alluring, drawing the viewer in and compelling him to linger.
Heather Day was born in Ewa Beach, Hawaii and spent her younger years in Washington DC. She received her BFA in painting and art history from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, MD. She has recently shown her work in Chicago, New York, Washington, DC and Oakland. Day currently lives in San Francisco and works in Oakland, CA.
 Expanding Boundaries: Lyrical Abstraction: Selections from the Permanent Collection, exhibition catalogue, 9 June – 30 August 2009, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL.
 Lyrical Abstraction: Color and Mood, exhibition catalogue, 29 May – 29 August 1993, Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, NE.