by Haven Ashley
Turning Over a New Leaf, Kay Walsh’s Best-in-Show Award-winning painting for the July 2020 Open Exhibit, is a model of graphic mark making at its best. Equal parts linear and whimsical, with creeping leaves woven into a geometric landscape, it is the fever dream of an eclectic botanist or wild architect.
Walsh’s painting delights and beguiles the eye with overlapping graphic shapes and sly botanical forms in a complex color palette of lavender, khaki, robin’s egg, and gray acrylics. The painting was the beginning of a new experiment, which Walsh calls her “hard edge series,” named for the straight, precise, defined edges of the shapes. “They don’t blend or transfer from one color to the other, they stop and start,” she commented of the rigid patchwork of angles, each indifferent from the other shapes, and from the graceful meandering leaves. “I take abstract shapes and mix them with recognizable objects, like the leaves that peek through here and there. It’s not supposed to make logical sense.”
Walsh has a background in graphic design from running her own advertising agency in Alexandria, Virginia. “I can’t go a day without creating—even if it’s just creating a salad,” she said, laughing. “Everyday I want to make something. It’s just in me.”