The Hippo


May 29, 2020








“No Signal” by Mike Howat. Courtesy photo.

“Things I Have No Words For” 

Where: Kelley Stelling Contemporary, 221 Hanover St., Manchester 
When: On view now through Feb. 18. Gallery hours are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and by appointment. 
More info:, 345-1779

Looking in
Contemporary art exhibition explores interior spaces

By Angie Sykeny

 “What is left when we leave a space?” That’s the question explored in Kelley Stelling Contemporary’s latest exhibition, “Things I have No Words For,” on view at the Manchester gallery now through Feb. 18. 

The exhibition features three painters and one printmaker whose work focuses on interior spaces and the objects within them. 
“It goes beyond what’s visually there [in a space],” gallery owner Karina Kelley said. “It’s about the feeling that you get from a space, our connection with the spaces and objects we live with, and how we interact with them. What’s in a space when there’s no one in it, and what does that mean to us?” 
New Hampshire Institute of Art graduate Mike Howat is one of the featured artists. His paintings challenge the traditional landscape form, with subjects like abandoned buildings and Hampton Beach scenes during the off-season. 
“A harborside with boats or a sunset over a mountain is not my cup of tea,” he said. “I try to paint things that are more interesting, that tell a narrative and have more emotional context, rather than just a pretty picture.” 
Howat’s work also looks at how particular objects relate to the environments in which they are set. His piece “No Signal,” which can be seen in the exhibition, depicts a radio sitting on a window sill, with a forest landscape behind it. 
“The things that catch my eye are lonely figures, isolated in a space, that become bigger or more important than the things around them,” he said. 
Three other artists will accompany Howat: Abba Cudney creates through a unique process of direct to screen watercolor monotype. Her art represents specific moments in time within an interior space, combining solid, representational objects with objects painted with loose, quick strokes. Amy Brnger does cheerful and colorful representational paintings, often pairing interiors and still life with landscapes using a voyeuristic viewpoint, with windows looking outside and inside. Jarid del Deo’s work includes representational and observational paintings depicting objects and places that are familiar or feel like home, with a focus on patterns, textures and small details. 
This is the fourth exhibition hosted by Kelley Stelling Contemporary, which opened on Hanover Street in October. The gallery highlights emerging, contemporary artists whose work pushes the boundaries of traditional art in New Hampshire, and “Things I have No Words For” does exactly that. 
“These artists look at the world and at space a little differently,” Kelley said. “The views, the angles and the subjects are very unorthodox and diverge from what you typically see in landscape and architectural paintings. They’re taking traditional mediums and using them in a unique way that people haven’t seen before.” 
For contemporary artists like Howat, who left his day job four months ago to pursue painting full time, Kelley Stelling Contemporary is one of the only local galleries where they can showcase their work, uninhibited. Howat said he used his place in the exhibition as an opportunity to “push things a bit” and “play around with different ideas” in his artwork.
“Some of my still life [pieces in the exhibition] are odd and poignant and not as marketable as the work I did previously. Any working creative knows that they have to bend a little to what they can market; it’s the unfortunate truth,” he said, “But this [exhibition] is a platform to create the way I want and make it work in a gallery that’s receptive to it.”

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