Art Watch: be inspired, check out your local art association

By Lele Galer, Columnist, The Times

With the flurry of First Friday art openings behind us and The Chester County Studio Tour just over a week away, many artists you know are in a creative panic as they get art ready for the studio tour and organize works for throughout the Summer months.

Some artists are using the Studio Tour as an opportunity to create works “outside the box” of their traditional milieu, which is one of the many reasons why the Chester County Studio Tour is such an exciting venue for both art lovers and the artists.

While the 179 Chester County Studio Tour artists are buried away creating art, now is a great chance to get out to the galleries and art associations and see what is showing now, before the eruption of the studio tour! Topping the list of art association events this weekend are The Wayne Art Center, The Chester County Art Association, The Oxford Arts Alliance, and The Community Arts Center in Wallingford.

In the Community Arts Center in Wallingford, located at 414 Plush Mill Road in Wallingford PA, clay artist Laura Demme has an interesting show that is open to the public until May 27.

Day Dream by Laura Demme, at the Community Art Center, Wallingford.

Laura Demme has been teaching at the Community Arts Center for almost 10 years, and she says that the center is a great place to create and to teach as “there is lots of sharing of ideas, techniques and lots of fun to be there…its where my heart lives”; sounds like a great place to take classes this summer too! She is exhibiting new sculptural works as well as poetry boxes, and for this year’s studio tour, she will be exhibiting at the studio of acclaimed painter Monique Sarkessian.

The combination of the two artists work will make for a great stop on the studio tour. Laura’s works are very personal and evocative; the sculptural pieces feel like they are part of a greater story, and make you want to see more.

Radiant Woman 13 by Monique Sarkessian, Chester County Studio Tour with Laura Demme.

Monique’s paintings burst with color, brushwork and exude a feeling of joy. Both artists seem to work in their own artistic universes that contain recurring images and themes that are both delightful and a bit mysterious. Laura Demme’s “Daydream” is a hand-built, wood-fired porcelain piece that has a combination of Raku firing and gold luster.

Laura says that “Daydream” makes her feel relaxed when she looks at it, and that “it is about being in the moment and enjoying being alive.” While an art piece is meant to speak for itself, I find that learning about the artist’s inspiration, technique and their story often helps to bring a piece even more alive. When you visit the Chester County Studio Tour May 20th and 21st, make sure to take advantage of talking with the artists about their work so that you can step into that creative process and enjoy it all the more.

This Saturday May 13, The fabulous Wayne Art Center, located at 413 Maplewood Avenue in Wayne, will be exhibiting the results of their huge annual Plein Air Festival in their main gallery. From 6-10pm there will be an exciting reception for the plein air show that includes 250 landscapes creates outside “en plein air” in our area over the past week. The event will include delicious catered food, refreshments, music, and valet parking.

Tickets start at $125 and you can purchase them online at, or call up the Wayne Art Center. Artist Don Demers is one of the most famous landscape and maritime painters in America, and he is the juror for this year’s Wayne Art Center’s Plein Air Festival. Don Demers will also be conducting a landscape workshop at The Wayne Art Center May 15-17, from 9am-4pm for a cost of $375/$400; if you are interested you should sign up now as it will fill up quickly. At the opening reception, Don Demers will award $15,000 in prizes to the winning paintings, and all of the works are for sale. This event is a fundraiser, and a portion of art sales goes to support the wonderful work that the Wayne Art Center does. While you are at the event, make sure to check out their calendar of summer art classes, lectures and workshops.

At the Oxford Arts Alliance, located at 38 South Third Street in Oxford PA, they are showing “Nature in Art” in their main gallery, and have just opened up an Art Annex across the street to offer more studio art classes all summer long. “Nature in Art” is a multi-artist show that includes stunning photographs by Kathleen Magner Rios, whimsical shoe sculptures by Lenny Wilson and a large free form sculptural piece by Vicki Vinton.

Their next exciting show is called “Nature’s Many Offerings” showcasing two of my favorite sculptural artists, Helen Mason and Jill Beech, which opens May 19th- May 26th. Also, be sure to get your tickets for their annual Garden Party, “Jazz in the Vineyard” at Galer Estate Winery in Kennett Square on June 16th. The Oxford Arts Alliance “Jazz in the Vineyard” will feature the incredibly talented Wendi Grantham who sings with her jazz ensemble, while the rest of the winery will be decked out with food, wine and dozens of works of art made especially for the occasion. Music and studio classes are offered all summer long at The Oxford Arts Alliance, so sign up to be a member and get the inside scoop on what is going on at OxAA!

Another terrific local art organization to enjoy wonderful gallery shows as well as take classes, workshops and hear lectures, is The Chester County Art Association in West Chester.

This Saturday May 13th at 5:30pm, there will be a lecture and reception for artist P. Buckley Moss, who is exhibiting her idyllic depictions of rural Virginia countryside, and will discuss her lifetime of giving back to the community through her extraordinary charitable contributions and unstoppable energy and personal commitment. Stop by the Chester County Art Association and check out P. Buckley Moss’s wonderful paintings and meet this inspiring, important galvanizing force for education and the arts in our time.

Tickets are $35 for CCAA members, and you can get them online at The event will also feature food prepared and served by The Crop Foundation, as well as wine and other refreshments, with a portion of the proceeds going to support scholarships for The Crop Foundation. While you are at the Art Association, make sure to check out their long list of art classes, visit their shop and adjoining gallery and consider becoming a CCAA member!

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