David Stone
Abstract by Toshiko Kitano Groner
Abstract by Toshiko Kitano Groner

On July 9th, Toshiko Kitano Groner again shows her work in the Chelsea art scene at the Onishi Gallery, 521 West 26th Street, as part of Summer Group Show III. There, her work will stay until July 20th. There's a public opening reception on Thursday, July 12th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Website: http://www.onishiproject.com Tel: 212-695-8035

Eight years ago when I first talked with Toshiko Kitano Groner for a profile before the opening of Poetic Expressions, an exhibit shared with Georgette Sinclair in RIVAA's main gallery, she told me about the serendipitous meeting that led to her rapid growth as a visual artist. Today, her works vibrate with a maturing fullness as she comes full circle as a painter.

In brightly colored canvases like Ginkgo Street and House in a Shroud, Groner's colorist passions made use of her subjects as scaffolding on which to park eye-catching color schemes.

Since, I've watched her bring her sensibilities to simple subjects, still lifes, and make them vibrate with intensity as if they were special, one of a kind. Her progression lead straight into abstraction, her colors the subject as well as the force that brings energy to a canvas.

On July 9th, she steps out her favorite venue, Gallery RIVAA, into the Chelsea art scene at the Onishi Gallery, 521 West 26th Street, as part of Summer Group Show III. There, her work will stay until July 20th. There's a public opening reception on July 12th from 5:30 to 7:30.

A Path Through Music

An interesting fact about Toshiko Kitano Groner is that when she left Japan - "Women were not recognized and appreciated as independent persons in Japan," she once told me - she initially pursued a career in music because she loved music and writing songs and didn't have the patience for painting and music was more immediate.

She was successful, right away, earning recognition as a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Among other things, she saw three of her songs performed by an opera company at Carnegie Hall.

But then, motherhood interrupted, and it wasn't until after her son was grown that she returned to creative pursuits, this time in visual arts. A chance meeting accelerated her progress.

“I was trying to arrange New York exhibitions for my brother,” an abstract expressionist painter still living in Japan, she said. “I asked Arline Jacoby to come to my home to see his work. Maybe he could get into the windows on Main Street.”   Groner had begun painting casually, and Jacoby, a founding member of Gallery RIVAA and a long time artist and teacher, was impressed with it.     “Why don’t you show yours too?” she asked.
Soon Groner joined the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association, showing her early work in group shows as early as 2001, taking classes at the Art Students League and earned a Certificate of Fine Arts Painting in 2013.

I mention this history because her current work you'll see at the Onishi Gallery show combines all the sensibilities with which she started into mature expression.

Because it's almost never mentioned that way, few people think of music as the abstract expressionism that it is at its core. Lyrics, like objects in a painting, may give it structure and make it more accessible, but it's the undefinable, pure revelation of an idea that gives it life.

So, what we see now in Groner's work is a kind of visual music, visual textures that could as easily be tonal, contrasts like those that let music fix our minds on something not quite there, something reaches us without words.

And we understand.

You can see for yourself, starting next week, July 9th, at the Onishi Gallery. The artist sends a special invitation for you to join her at the public reception on July 12th, in the gallery at 521 West 26th Street.