Monday, January 10, 2011

center pieces, franklin park arts center, purcellville, va, 1/2011

Yesterday afternoon was the reception for the "Center Pieces" group exhibit at the Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville, Virginia.  Surprisingly, until only recently, I had never heard of the place until a friend who lives out that way told me about it. What an amazing art space this former 19th century dairy barn is, whose reconstruction was ten years in the making

The show itself was a real delight , showcasing a wide variety of styles and takes on the theme, including this humorous print from Skye Young, who is currently studying art at VCU. Despite the diversity of genres and styles, the entire show was put together nicely, unified by the "Center Pieces" theme, and the interior structure of the barn.

My wife Kris, who couldn't make it due to workplace obligations, entered a beautiful photo of her own, taken at Ida Lee Park called "Not Stung". This photo is special to me since I proposed to her near the place this photograph was taken, as well as married her at Ida Lee. 

If you follow my blog, or my own work, you might recall the piece above from a recent Illustration Friday prompt. I call it "Phenomenon", named after the prompt itself. For some reason, I like to embrace the concept of using Illo Friday prompts as titles for many of my smaller works, such as this one. I also thought it tied in well with the exhibit theme.

My long-time friend Eric Scott (see above), who told me about this show, had his awesome "Excavation" piece on display at Franklin Park. I remember seeing this piece evolve to its final stage, which he also blogged about some last year.  It's been great seeing how far Eric has come since I knew him in college, and witnessing where he's going with his art and his path as an educator. As a small heads up, Eric will be having a little solo show at King Street Coffee starting later this month.

My friend Brian Kirk (above) also had one of his sculptural works on display at the center. I'm proud to have Brian as a fellow art teacher colleague, who works at the same school as Eric does. I've taken some grad classes that Brian taught, and learned a lot about sculpture from him. He recently had a fantastic solo show at the Studio Gallery in D.C., and has been an inspiration for me, as far as getting some of my own art out there in the public eye.

The time and effort that went into this quilted piece "Symmetry" by Mimi Altstatt must have been mind-boggling. I wish I had a fraction of the patience to produce this kind of work.

I made some new friends yesterday as well, including artist Bob Friedenberg, whose wonderful giclee print "Entrophy 2" was on display (above).  I love the super-intricate details and almost subconscious doodle work going on in his art, and this drawing in particular has to be seen up close and in-person to be believed. What is interesting is that last Christmas, one of my students gave me a set of cards with some excellent artwork on it as a gift. When I saw this "Entropy 2" piece, I thought something looked familiar about the drawing style. Then, later during the opening, when Bob and I were talking, he handed me his business card and right away I knew whose work was on those cards I got as a gift. I told him this, and Bob and his wife even recall when my student and his mom bought the cards (at a recent arts n' crafts fair at Ida Lee), and them saying it was for their art teacher. What a small world it is. 

Another new friend, who I had actually met last month at the Smithsonian Naturalist Center, and whose astounding painted wood sculpture simply entitled "Indigo-Bunting, Male" (above) was on display, is Stephanie Roan. I'm glad I told Stephanie about this show last month, and even happier to see she entered one of her pieces. Stephanie has a very interesting story as to how she got into doing the work she does, and she can identify and inform you about birds like no other. I know she's just getting back into the whole art thing, and I sure hope she continues to keep at it. How she makes the kind of work she makes simply baffles me.

I was glad to see the exhibit had a good turnout yesterday, and equally glad to see they had some food and drink.

Perhaps the most "interactive" of the works on display was Rosalba Negrete's beautiful "Breaking Boundaries" rotating sculpture. I was talking to her husband and kids, telling them how I found it interesting to see that her explanation for her piece had a similar idea to my work on display, despite being so different in appearance from mine. When I saw people touching her piece, and turning it around, I cringed at first - the teacher in me wanting to tell them not to touch. Then I was informed that this was OK. I'd love to see more art of this kind, everywhere.

I was so glad to see one of my students, with his mom, come out to the show as well! He's an incredible little artist and an all around great kid whose mom really encourages his love for art, and creativity. Here they're taking a look around. 

I was happy to see quite a few sculptural works on display at the show, in addition to the two-dimensional art. Any of these 3D pieces could sit side by side with works at the Hirshhorn or National Gallery, in my humble opinion. 

The center also had a little interactive/participatory aspect to it as well, and folks could comment and vote for their favorite work and post it on the green tree. I thought this was a very good idea and it was fun reading what people had to say about the art. By the end of the opening, that tree got pretty full.

Here's to a job well done by the folks at the Franklin Park Arts Center, as well as to all the artists who participated, and to those who came out to support them. The photos in this post only scratch the surface of the show, and as always, seeing everything in person is best. I'm glad to have found out about this place, which also has an amazing theater next to the gallery, and highly recommend anyone in the area to drop by and check it all out.

* see a great article by Michael Carter on "Center Pieces" in The Viking