Art of Darkness is on view at the Heartspace Art Center and Gallery

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In June 2017, painter Jennifer Gillooly Cahoon opened the Heartspot Art Center and Gallery in a shopping district in East Providence. Home to substantial exhibition space and a small gift shop, and offering art classes to adults and children, the Heartspot has quickly become a favorite gallery for Rhode Islanders and visitors to the Massachusetts border.

Among other accolades, she was voted “Best Gallery” in the ProJo Readers’ Choice Award (Providence Journal) each year from 2018 to 2021, and was named “Best Gallery in the East Bay” in Best of Rhode Island, in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

In March 2020, the pandemic necessitated the closure of the gallery. But at the end of September this year, Cahoon gladly reopened the gallery with “Art of Darkness,” his annual Halloween-themed group show.

As you might expect, the show featured the usual range of the unusual. There were paintings, drawings, sculptures and multimedia works of bloodsucking vampires, horned devils, severed limbs, alien beings and witches, werewolves and specters from myth, legend and the cinema.

Artist and gallery owner Jennifer Gillooly Cahoon.

But something really scary happened on October 4th when the Heartspot flooded. The water rose to intimidating levels, but none of the artwork on display was damaged. Cahoon was devastated but she persevered. She didn’t give up.

With the help of the East Providence Fire Department, the EP Public Works Department, its owner and a small army of family, friends and supporters, the Heartspot reopened, after many lots of dumps, blowing fans, mold removal, drywall replacement and painting. The show has been reinstalled.

Halloween will be over before this review goes into print, but “The Art of Darkness” will be running until November 11. Extend that monster mash vibe a bit more and take a peek at a perfectly entertaining seasonal exhibit.

Christopher Sanders' hated monster

Christopher Sanders presents a trio of large-scale acrylic paintings that celebrate the old-school classic monster movie stars from Universal Studios. “Abhorred Monster” and “Imhotep” respectively honor the legendary Boris Karloff as the reanimated and thunderbolt-stitched monster of Frankenstein and the cursed vengeful Egyptian mummy. The third work is “Creature of the Night” starring Bela Lugosi in her most famous role, Count Dracula.

Nosferatu by Roger Lemelin

Another movie vampire (albeit based on Dracula) is pictured in the exhibit. Count Orlok, the bloodsucker from the 1922 German expressionist film “Nosferatu” is reinvented with Roger Lemelin’s mixed puppet of the same name. Vampires don’t cast a reflection or a shadow, but the reflection and shadow of Tim Burton must be recognized here.

All eyes on me from Sara Breslin

Sara Breslin’s watercolor and gouache painting “All Eyes On Me” is a commentary on celebrity obsession as Princess Diana, in a tiara and pearls, cries and two new eyes kinda formed on his cheek. She could imagine herself as nothing more than a monster, prancing before a world that couldn’t get enough of her. The gaze never ended until her life did.

There is a significant amount of three-dimensional artwork in the show and a lot of humor, much like Carver Rapp’s ceramic “Scorpion Bowl”. It has nothing to do with the famous Polynesian rum and juice cocktail, which is often shared. It is a ceramic scorpion vessel. It couldn’t have been made scarier than if it had contained real live scorpions.

I can't think anymore by Brian Huntress

Brian Huntress’s “I Can’t Think Anymore” is an unsettlingly austere portrayal of a pink-eyed man in a bright green devil costume against a fiery orange background. Something about it, perhaps the combination of colors and the intensity of her gaze, makes it the scariest work in the gallery.

Siamese twins lead a difficult life. What could make it worse? And the curse of lycanthropy? A charming small mixed media sculpture titled “Alone Time” by Alexandra Scibetta Quigley features two sisters sharing the same body. One knits, the other crochet … just like the Siamese werewolf sisters do.

Chut Chut by John Trainor

“The Art of Darkness” is on display at the Heartspace Art Center and Gallery, 1970 Pawtucket Avenue, East Providence until November 11.


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