Art Watch: Playing games at the Art Trust

Plus, four First Friday art gallery openings

By Lele Galer, Columnist, The Times

First Friday is always exciting as it heralds in new art shows for the month, and usually entertains us with fun, free, and friendly artist receptions that involve food, wine and lots of lively conversation. The most unusual new art show by far, very far, is the “Twister” exhibition opening at The Art Trust on West Market Street in West Chester.

In Kennett Square, Mala Galleria’s new show is “All about LOVE”, with a motley of favorite Chester County artists with a theme of “LOVE” ala Valentine’s Day. It is a fun, happy show, full of a broad interpretations of love, hearts, embraces, in metal, clay and painting. The Longwood Art Gallery is marking its new owner/re-model debut with a Rooster art in celebration of Chinese new year (Year of the Rooster).

Storage for the Broken Heart by Roberta Little, Mala Galleria

Just a few steps from Mala Galleria, this promises to be a bright opening with music, food and many artistic interpretations of the rooster. While you are enjoying yourself in Kennett Square, head East and check out Salt & Stone with original hand-made jewelry by Amanda Kane, The Orange Door with an interior design artsy vibe, and Philter Coffee which showcases half a dozen local artists in its fantastic coffee establishment.

In West Chester, the Portia Mortensen abstract painting show continues at The Church Street Gallery, and around the corner, The Art Trust is celebrating with a very off the wall show “Twister”, that is definitely worth a peek, and should have a great reception party on Friday February 3rd.

Twister installation by artist Darren McManus, at The Art Trust.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with The Art Trust, it is an small arts organization headed by a board of interesting artists and art lovers who meet and plan monthly art shows at The Meridian Bank in West Chester at 16 West Market Street. The theme for this year’s bevy of art shows is “board games”, and 2017 begins with an all-time party-favorite “Twister”.

Twister installation by artist Gary Armstrong, The Art Trust

According to Art Trust guidelines, every show is curated with different Art Trust Board members, and “Twister” is curated by new board member, and former gallery owner, and art lover Dara Zuckernick. She chose artists Darren McManus and Gary Armstrong, who both create circular form installations, and both have ties to West Chester and happened to have an MFA degree from the same off-the-wall art college Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. Funny enough, neither artist knew that the other had graduated from the same school. My bet is that they shared a professor that was keenly into circles… just guessing. Anyhow, both artists create circular forms that resonate with lots of metaphoric connections to the human experience… a very different show for Chester County.

Dara Zuckernick explains “both artists are playing up the dot – all that idea of the circle.” She says ,”Both artists work with the circular format as it relates to the human experience in relationship to the universe.” Darren McManus paints with acrylic on board and canvas. He has the most irritating website I have ever seen in my entire life – that is my opinion; perhaps you will have a channel into your inner self and think it is genius. His canvases hark to “cellular biology”, “cosmology” and basically are repetitive patterns that “speak to the external and internal human experience.” HIs major installment at the Art Trust is meant to exemplify a meteor entering the atmosphere and exploding. One juncture of circles is supposed to respond to a cell when it is dividing. The fun thing is that if you are having trouble getting the picture straight on, if you put on 3-D glasses (provided by The Art Trust) you will see his images as a hologram!

His circles sell individually for around $300, or more money as a grouping for your own home installation.

Gary Armstrong is the other circle artist in the Art Trust Show. His work is less colorful, more monotone but also full of patterns within circular shapes. His palette is more restrained, and more minimalistic, which reflects his contemplative, meditative nature. Dara explains that Gary’s work ” is meant to read right to left, as an installment – speaking to humankind developing consciousness in the universe.” His circles move from gray and black, into red and finally to fragmented circles of blues and green with chopped off edges like a trapezoid.” Both artist hung the artworks themselves, and meant the works to resonate with one another, and encourage contemplation.

Dara says that she is “very excited about the show…It is great to have something new that has never been seen before in this area!.” The theme of board games is an excellent idea, and it is fun to begin the year with “Twister”. Check it out and see what you think! Do the circles speak to you of the human experience? Of a transcendent meditation? Are they aesthetically pleasing in and of themselves or do they require translation? This is a great kick in the pants exhibit that will either make you shake your head, or just enjoy the contemplative experience. Maybe come to this exhibit in an altered state with your own alternative facts…. Cheers to the Art Trust for trying to shake it up a bit.

To meet the artists Gary Armstrong and Darren McManus, and curator Dara Zuckernick, be sure to attend the first Friday, February 3rd artist opening reception at The Art Trust.

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