Mixed Media: Art coming up everywhere for spring

By Caroline Roosevelt, Columnist, The Times

Did you get out for the May First Friday last weekend? I made it down to Carspecken and Scott on Thursday night for the opening of Frances Roosevelt’s solo exhibit of recent work.

The gallery was bustling!

A work by Olga Nelson

In addition to that, the Square Pear Fine Art Gallery (formerly Mala Galleria) made its debut with its new name last week. Their exhibition, “Everyday Moments.” features work form Olga Nelson, Cheryl Elmo, Cheryl Schlenker, Kimberly Hoechst, Kathleen Friedenberg, Al Moretti and Susan O’Hanlon. Corien Siepelinga continues to curate beautiful group exhibitions with a binding theme. These pieces, be it a sumptuous sculpture by Olga Nelson, or a playful and bright painting by Cheryl Schlenker, celebrate the breezy everyday moments. Stop by as you’re strolling down State Street, the show runs through the end of May.

Summer Morning by Tara Will

Tomorrow, Church Street Gallery hosts the reception for their new show, “The Radiant Pastel,” by Tara Will. Her pastels, which hover around the theme of abstract landscapes, are ripe and juicy. The colors jump off the canvas.. The confidence and visual speed of each stroke create an animated composition. One that, while it may appear to have taken five minutes of deliberate movement to make, is the concept of an artist who has spent years honing her art to be able to move with such ferocity.

I have found, through years of trying to work in it, and through years of trying to appreciate it, that pastels (oil or chalk) don’t do it for me. I find them to be chunky, messy, and needlessly difficult for the simplicity of their tool and, the artwork often results in something somewhat pedestrian. It’s a personal opinion, flay me, if you must. I line up my praise for Tara Will’s work in this manner because, she manages to transcend what I consider to be a difficult-to-please (me) medium.

I remember being handed a fistful of dry, crumbled, no label chalk pastels at a young age that had so clearly been used and abused by other elementary school students that I developed an animosity towards them early on. “I can’t work like this!” I’d scream in my head. I realize my disdain for pastel comes from a very personal experience with it, and work hard to challenge my prejudice against it.

Tara Will’s work has moved me a step closer to enjoying pastel. In this case, I adore it. She creates “brush strokes,” and almost tricks me into thinking she’s working with a wet medium. Each finished piece looks like a new and exotic fruit, and I can’t wait to stop by Church Street to enjoy them all. This is a show that should not be missed, the liveliness of these pieces is a perfect addition to a summer stroll through West Chester. Take this exhibition in, and join Church Street for their reception from 6 – 9pm tomorrow. Come back next Friday, May 18th for the artist talk and demo at 7pm.

As always, tune in next week to WCHE 1520AM for Art Watch Radio. On May 16th,  John Chambless, journalist, hosts – Jeff Schaller and Chester County Studio tour preview. I will be writing about the Chester County Studio Tour next week as well, I can’t wait to see what’s in store! Until next time!

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