By Carl Blumenthal
Special to Brooklyn Daily Eagle
DUMBO — It’s easy to connect Tanya Rynd’s role as part-owner of Superfine, the DUMBO restaurant (126 Front St.), with the exhibit of her exuberant paintings and prints next door at Spring Design & Art (126A Front St.) through April 15. While her partners Laura Taylor and Cara Lee Sparry serve respectively as kitchen maestro and jack of all trades, Rynd is the host with the most.
Nor is it a coincidence that the period of her artwork on display (1995-2011) coincides with her career as a foodie. Rynd, Taylor and Sparry ran the café at Between the Bridges Pub in the late 1990s before opening Superfine in 2001.
Given the owners are all artists in their spare time, it’s not surprising the works of local painters have always enlivened Superfine’s brick walls. But the trio have also produced an endless variety of performances, from Saturday night fire juggling on the cobblestones of York Street in the Between the Bridges days to family-friendly, bluegrass brunches now.
Born and raised in Seattle, Tanya taught herself to paint during a brief stint in college. After five years of seeking the artistic promised land in Santa Fe, she moved to SoHo in 1994 and to DUMBO a year later.
Especially in the last few years, she has grown from an expressionist who embellishes the real world to a pilot of fancy whose flights may or may not be based in reality.
She has a love of water, flowers, animals, street scenes, and especially the faces and bodies of women, whether singly or in combination.
But she has an even bigger love of color. Like a child who can’t resist using all the crayons in the box but knows she’s being extravagant, Rynd reins in her rainbow mania by taking an anatomical or even cellular approach to detail and tone.
The paintings on the walls vary from those in which the ostensible subject is barely recognizable against a multi-colored, multi-shaped background to those in which the subject nearly obliterates its surroundings.
An example of the first group is “The Crab Climbs Out of the Ocean to Laughing Tulips” (2009). Overshadowed by flower-like forms, a tiny crustacean scuttles at the bottom of the canvas. Awash in the hues of breaking waves, the crab may have the last laugh because the tulips, though rooted, are no more secure in a blooming universe.
“The Goddess Punches Airplanes from the Sky” (2009) seems to be the perfect counterpoint. A naked King Kong-like woman clutches at a small plane overhead. She stands next to what might be a stalk or stave of hearts instead of the Empire State Building. The tones are almost all variants of blue. In other words, this is one angry, lovesick goddess.
The off-center face of the Egyptian goddess of fertility who makes an appearance in “Isis” doesn’t quite blend into the many-splendored, pastel-accented background. The surrounding whirl of colors may be her brother/husband Osiris’ body parts — Isis put him back together after his evil twin Set cut Osiris into pieces — or it may be the many souls for which Isis is responsible. In either case, she has a lot on her mind.
On the other hand, the “blushing beauty” of the second portrait may be alarmed but she isn’t disarmed. Her face fills the canvas with flirtatious eyes, sleek nose and pitiless mouth. Still, her skin, shoulders, and background also exude swatches of vibrancy.
Rynd says, “When I get into the studio, I don’t have a subject in mind. I just start painting. My goal is to finish in a day, to sign my name and not go back. I’ve always been prolific, like setting up and shooting an arrow. I channel the painting. Then I sit down and talk to it, write it a poem that is the essence, the eye of the painting.” No wonder the eyes have it over other parts in the body of Tanya Rynd’s work.