The M. Herrington Gallery greeted visitors Friday night with a solo show Ashes to Honey featuring the newest collection by painter Melissa Herrington. An eclectic crowd of Venice locals, artists, friends, families and tourists attended the popular event which featured live music by singer Shay Astar.
Viewers sipped on wine and sparkling water as they listened to music and spied Herrington’s new work of webs, cocoons, lacework, knitting, twists and dust.
Pretty and petite, Herrington openly greeted the guests taking the time to explain the elements of each piece inspired by the imagery of ropes, braided lilies, unraveling webs, cracks and crevices.
Using oil and acrylics on canvas and wood pieces, Herrington married the representational with the abstract.
Herrington says the blending of imagery and colors naturally merges with her own aesthetic and was the inspiration behind Ashes to Honey: an exploration of entrapment, emergence, layering and life.
Herrington produced this body of work after a residential fellowship in Marnay, France awarded through CAMAC and Foundation Tenout.
“It’s the continuity of story that I keep coming back to with this work,” explains Herrington.
A rope-like mark could be viewed as divisive: interior versus exterior, domestic versus worldly, confinement versus freedom, the self versus others.
Her current collection features female figures gathering in the vicinity of some portal—a door, a cocoon, a window or the transparency of the surface—hinting at escape or trespass. Obscured pencil inscriptions and dense layers of acrylic paint and pigments create residues that heighten the tension hinting at a coherent completion of form, but never fully realized. The result: a contemporary visual portmanteau.
The contrasting finishes add to the overall dialogue between the pieces.
While each of Herrington’s paintings represents different stages, a sense of hopeful pessimism pervades the work leaving the view both haunted and confident.
Ashes to Honey runs through June 31.
M. Herrington Gallery
1221 Abbott Kinney Blvd