Enigmatic figures mainly found in isolation, rendered with bold, loose strokes of almost chaotic color — this is the work of San Rafael artist Helen Steele. Her paintings have been represented by the Bryant Street Gallery in Palo Alto for a number of years, but this current exhibition has a poignant note: Steele died unexpectedly at the age of 57 last year. “Reflections,” on view until April 15, is a posthumous show of 12 of her last paintings and some early sculptures.
Karen Imperial, Bryant Street Gallery director, said that she first saw Steele’s work at a gallery in Idaho. “I found the work extremely moving. I thought my clientele would respond to the work as well as I did.” She was in the process of organizing an exhibition with Steele when she learned of her death. “It felt very natural to have a memorial show for her, so I spoke with Jeremy (her son and estate executor) and he was on board.
“I went to the studio and Jeremy allowed me to curate a show,” she said, adding that she chose pieces that she felt were “strong in composition and palette.”