“Three Women,” the new art show at the Women’s Center, is not a trio of overzealous feminists using their paints and canvases to declare why men are devils. These women, Megan Kitchen, Michelle Onstot and Christa Reyes Gonzales, are talented, contemporary local artists who express, but don’t force, their passionate feelings through a variety of mediums.
Kitchen works with mixed mediums, and her work contains a potent spirituality. Women of all races and eras are featured in her powerful 3-D pieces, along with butterflies, Asian characters, blades and keys. “Life’s Questions Remain Unanswered,” is a piece that contains a book titled 2001 Original Unveiled Mysteries all chained and locked up, surrounded by many different keys.
Onstot’s paintings are large acrylics with enormous, dark, haunting faces. The use of color, especially the contrast of bright and dark, is engrossing. Slight distortions of the faces (painted into pieces of shattered glass or shown with a scan bar on the forehead, for example) communicate a plea for social awareness of issues regarding labor rights. “The Late Spring Adams Needed Her Dad’s OK, Idaho Enforces Parental Consent, Notification” is a compelling painting that uses a map of the United States with a sullen face embedded into the eastern side, along with words from legal documentation regarding abortion rights.
Gonzales displays mainly oils on canvas, with vibrant primary colors that portray vaguely imprecise human forms and give her paintings an almost dreamlike feel. “Estrella” portrays the backside of a nude, cross-legged woman who is painted more realistically than Gonzales’ other works. Its very deep, introspective hues of blue, contrasting with an indigo background, make it completely captivating.
This exhibit’s appeal lies in the variety of work displayed. These are intelligent, gifted women with something to say and an honest desire to share without unduly imposing their ideas on the audience.
Three Women will be on display through June 8 at UCSB’s Women’s Center Art Gallery. The Women’s Center is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.