Shared interests spawn unlikely artistic alliance

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Despite diverse backgrounds, two area painters enjoy collaborating

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times

"Alpaca" by William Basciani   was painted at Chenoa Manor, an animal rescue operation in

“Alpaca” by William Basciani was painted at the Chenoa Manor Animal Sanctuary, a rescue facility in Avondale.

After meeting several years ago at a cold, blustery art event, two Chester County painters developed a warm friendship and are teaming up for a show at the Chadds Ford Gallery that opens on Friday.

Recent works by William Basciani and John Hannafin will be featured in an exhibition that runs through March 24. An opening reception will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday. Refreshments will be served with a dash of culture, according to Hannafin.

A West Chester native, Hannafin said he loved drawing from a young age but majored in economics in college because he questioned making a living as an artist. While creating an art publishing business representing other artists, he began to pursue his own work, eventually focusing entirely on developing his own artistic pursuits. In 2007, Hannafin began an on-going project, “Art Across America,” which involves his painting and filming national parks around the country.

Works by West Chester artist John Hannafin, many of which feature area landmarks, will be on display at the Chadds Ford Gallery.

Works by West Chester artist John Hannafin, many of which feature area landmarks, will be on display at the Chadds Ford Gallery starting on Friday.

Basciani grew up in Kennett Square, a member of the fourth generation of the largest family-owned mushroom business in the area. Although he worked in the family trade, his parents encouraged him to pursue his lifelong passion for art, and he ended up being accepted into  the prestigious four-year dertificate program at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. After graduating, he set up his studio in a historic barn in Chadds Ford, where he continues to paint.

A few years back, both men were participating in the Chadds Ford Historical Society’s annual plein air event, a day when painters create art in a single sitting that is displayed within hours. Basciani recalled that they both ended up at John Chads’ House, where they were painting the historic residence from different angles in the midst of  a snowstorm. “He came over to see what I was working on,” said Basciani. “I went over to see what he was working on and realized he had put me in his painting.”

Basciani said they quickly realized they had a lot in common, despite their different backgrounds. Within months, they were painting together regularly and even took a trip to Vermont together.  “We started showing together with a group of other like-minded artists, called Painter’s Folly,” Basciani said, calling the Chadds Ford Gallery show a natural extension of their collaborations.

The gallery, which is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., is located at 1609 Baltimore Pike in Chadds Ford.

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