Heather Day's "Keep Still" Finds the Sound of Quietude

Hashimoto Contemporary
May 16, 2018 7:56PM

What is the space between loud and quiet? In her latest exhibition, California artist Heather Day examines the harmony of calm and chaos.

The artist in front of her piece, Sometimes I Mirror You #2

Stepping into Heather Day’s solo exhibition Keep Still, one may find themselves attempting to define the distinctive volume of the room.

Warm pinks, oranges, and reds swirl and vibrate, splashed excitedly onto paper in thick, sumptuous strokes. Day’s sunny, exuberant marks seem to sing off the page, welcoming the viewer into a rich secret world mediated by inky blue washes deep enough to swim in.

"Headspace" acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 56 x 72 inches, c. 2018

To call the work ‘balanced,’ however, falls short of the truth. Balance requires two opposing forces at work in equal measure; the quick and joyful marks at play throughout Keep Still  would not be at home without their fluid, pooling counterparts. It is not a balance, but a harmony that is found in the work — an effervescent proclamation grounded in blues both tranquil and introspective.

Detail of "Junk Yard #11" acrylic, spray paint, graphite and pastel on paper, 30 x 22 inches, c. 2018

The brilliance of this harmony is amplified by the considerable number of works in the show. Each piece is carefully placed next to another, marks appear to move back and forth between frames. In this way, a singular painting serves both as a standalone work as well as a micro component of a larger painting –– the installation itself. The work seems perfectly at home in this configuration, perhaps due to Day’s extensive experience as a mural painter.

Installation of Keep Still, on view at Hashimoto Contemporary, May 2018

It seems natural to classify Heather’s work as distinctly Californian. Drawing inspiration from her surroundings, the rocky cliffs, cerulean coasts, and misty redwood forests of the San Francisco Bay Area, Day has crafted a language of color and marks which celebrate the rugged beauty of the California coasts. Day’s palette, though vibrant, is largely natural and unequivocally San Franciscan.

Detail of Go With It, acrylic, graphite and pastel on paper, 30 x 22 inches, c. 2018

What is located by Heather Day’s exhibition Keep Still is a place between resonance and calm, a discarding of the notion that true quietude requires the absence of sound. Here, Day’s works on paper seem to echo Buddhist meditation teachings, suggesting that keeping still is not a complete silencing, but a celebration of noise. Keep Still is an invitation to notice –– a nod to both quiet and chaos, a gift for the present moment.

Installation of Keep Still, on view at Hashimoto Contemporary, May 2018

Heather Day's Keep Still is on view at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco until May 26, 2018.

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-Kaly Scheller-Barrett

Hashimoto Contemporary