Waco artist Kate Sterchi’s abstract paintings reveal meaning by layers in her Croft Art Gallery show.

A quick glance at Kate Sterchi’s abstract paintings in her new Croft Art Gallery show “Layers of Remove” might not reveal much, and that’s as it should be.

The works offer square vistas of off-whites and greys that look largely monochromatic and blank. A closer look, however, shows layers in the paintings: “gesture markers” that show an artist’s hand, subtle patches of shade, areas where the painting has been scraped to the white canvas beneath.

“When you first look at it, there’s nothing there. But when you look again, there’s so much there,” explained the 25-year-old Waco artist, a 2010 Baylor University art graduate.

The shifting tonal fields demonstrate Sterchi’s interest in the interplay of chaos and control, of addition and subtraction. Complementing the six pieces on the wall of the gallery’s front room are three deeper canvases placed on the floor. Their depth offers more space for viewers to see Sterchi’s process: Drips of greys on the acrylic paintings’ sides come from the graphite washes the artist used on the canvas tops.

A smaller room in the Croft Art Gallery’s midsection adds color with six canvases of Sterchi’s “Quiet Red” series on display. The canvases of a red square on a lighter red background show a gradual darkening of hue leading to a final painting where the difference between squares blurs into an overall dull reddish-brown.

Sterchi’s show, whose 6 p.m. Friday reception is one of several First Friday activities in downtown Waco, marks a return to the Croft gallery space. The Waco artist, presently involved in art studies through the Savannah College of Art and Design, had a solo show there in 2007.