One of the last artists to benefit from Cincinnati's artist grants program is Kim Flora. In 2008, she was awarded $6,000 to support the creation of the large-scale encaustic paintings that grace her exhibition Personal Vistas, opening this Friday at PAC Gallery in East Walnut Hills. (It is up through Feb. 27.) Encaustic (paintings in melted wax) is an expensive, involved medium to work in; this exhibition would have been nearly impossible at Flora’s career stage without grant support.
There is real turbulence splashing about in this new series, like a Gericault shipwreck. During my visit to the gallery, I returned over and over to the brooding “through the thickening,” a blackish painting with a wave of milky wax smeared through the center of the panel. Snipped-up photographs and other collage elements are scattered between layers of oil paint and wax. The painting’s beauty is enhanced by the wear and struggle it withstood in Flora’s studio; jags of extra hues, scuffs and scrapes court the accidental along with all-out chaos.
Most of the artworks are colored by a bevy of blues: the colors of bodies of water, melancholy and night skies. Flora tames the chilly depths of transparent wax with elegantly shaky drawings across the painting’s front, as in “starlight and the harbor,” where four lines suggest a whale-like immensity drifting in front of the rough surface.
Read Matt Morris' review of Personal Vistas here.