Thursday, December 10, 2015

Gallery 621 artists interpret winter

(Originally published in the 12/10/15 edition. The print edition misspelled Susan Aulik's name.)

   Winter is not the most pleasant time for a lot of people. The cold, wet and gray air and landscapes can make for a bittersweet couple of months. However, 12 Benicia artists have managed to find beauty in this polarizing season, and their interpretations of winter can be seen at Gallery 621’s current show “Rain: Art Inspired by Winter.”
   “Rain” has been running since Dec. 4, and it features various paintings, drawings and sculptures with each artist’s take on winter.
   “We always like to have a theme to paint to,” participating artist Lee Wilder Snider said. “It’s a nice motivator for artists to have a theme now and then to paint to.”
   The gallery named the show “Rain” but expanded the theme to encompass all of winter.
   “Although in Benicia, winter time really does mean rain,” Snider said.
   Snider was inspired by the gray colors of winter, and she was also excited to do a graphite drawing again.
   “I haven’t worked in black and white for a long time in terms of a graphite pencil,” she said. “I’m mainly a painter in oils and acrylics, so one of mine was done in graphite.”
   Other participating artists include Nikki Basch-Davis, Jerrold Turner, Susan Aulik, Robert Nelson and Kathy Oja. Some, like Basch-Davis, captured the mood of the rain while others, like Louise Victor took on a more abstract approach.
   “It’s just wonderful to see the beauty in both the pieces and how they resonate even with each other,” Snider said. “They’re very different approaches to painting.” 
   “It’s wonderful to see these two voices speaking to the same theme with their own style and eloquence.” 
   It is this variety that Snider appreciates most.
   “As one of the original members of Gallery 621, what I love doing is walking in and seeing the different voices of everyone who’s there and what they brought to the theme or in their own work,” she said. “It always is a joy to see how each painter or sculptor approaches their art, and it’s just an added interest when we have a theme and people speak to that with their own work.”
   The show has already become a huge hit among visitors. The gallery received an increase in visitors last week when neighboring Plein Air Gallery hosted a reception on the night of the Annual Tree Lighting, so people stopped by Gallery 621 afterwards. 
   “The people who were walking down to see the Holiday Tree Lighting stopped in and embraced what I call the art district,” Snider said. “It’s nice having a partnership down there with Plein Air.”
   The community embraced what they saw, and the show even captured the interest of kids.
   “A lot of families came in, and it was really heartwarming to see an 8-year-old grab his father and say ‘Come look at this one! Come look at this one, Dad!’” Snider said. “It was nice to have different age ranges too.”
   Snider hopes viewers continue to take in the work and reflect upon the theme.
   “I hope they engage with the work and look at all the different voices that speak,” she said. “Instead of a written message, it’s a feeling message. I hope the come away feeling good that this gallery is in Benicia and that people are painting about things and showing things and trying to capture what it means to be alive.”

   Gallery 621 is located on 309 First St. “Rain” will run until Jan. 31, and a reception will be held from 5 to 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 12. The artists hope to open up a dialogue on the season of winter and meet with the community. For more information, contact the gallery at (707) 297-6860. 

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