Denny Griffith, the former CCAD president who died in January following a two-year battle with cancer, was not only a mentor but a close friend to CCAD grad Heather Lynn Kyle.

Denny Griffith, the former CCAD president who died in January following a two-year battle with cancer, was not only a mentor but a close friend to CCAD grad Heather Lynn Kyle.

"When Denny passed in January, it inspired me to want to do something for him, but not a whole show about him," Kyle said, admitting she never fully grasped the depth of Griffith's illness until his situation was dire. "I don't want to miss telling people how I feel about them. So, to me, the gesture was obvious. … The open-ended prompt of a solo show, followed by the passing of my mentor, helped me form the tribute concept."

And so Kyle's June exhibition at Wild Goose Creative is titled "Sappy Hulk," a play on the emotional nature of the show and also on her initials (HLK). A collection of brand-new work, the paintings are all done in oil - some on canvas, some on wood, some as large as six feet by four feet - and each has a dedication to a specific person in the artist's life (family, friends, past partners).

Completing the work over a brief period of time helped to keep the concept cohesive, Kyle said. In some cases, the dedication was clear from the outset. For others, her inspiration revealed itself as she was working. "I started with many concept drawings. Some of those made it to the canvas, some were more spontaneous," she said. "My parents both have a few paintings. I have so much to tell them."

Kyle's nod to Griffith in the exhibition is twofold. Because Griffith's colleagues viewed his more recent work as representing a change in style, she wanted to stretch herself for this exhibition. She also offered a more direct tribute, painting some pieces that are a mixture of Griffith's imagery and her own.

Kyle recognizes the complexity of making overly personal work. "I don't want to appear self-absorbed," she said. "But artists have to make stuff. I hope [the work] communicates something that serves other people."