Art Watch: All American

The big art weekend event this week is 68th Annual Chadds Ford Art Show, held at Chadds Ford Elementary School this Friday, March 24 from 7 to 10 p.m. and Saturday March 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Friday opening is for adults only and is always a very fun party with donated delicious appetizers served by students and staff on cleverly made palette trays. It is usually packed with art lovers, so be prepared to get there early to get good parking!

This year the show includes 60 local artists, and includes a special dedicated area reserved to highlight the wonderful artist and teacher Karl Kuerner. At 1 p.m. on Saturday, Karl will be discussing his artwork as well as his unique connection to the art of the Brandywine Valley - a rare treat. On Friday night most all of the artists will be in attendance, so this is a great chance to chat with your favorite local artist, enjoy some catered treats, and revel in a terrific selection of art for every taste.

Blue Vase by Len Garon, featured artist at Chadds Ford Art Show

The featured artist for The Chadds Ford Art Show this year is painter Len Garon, an expressive painter who paints popular subject matter ranging from flowers, landscapes, the female form, seascapes, and whatever catches his passion.

The donating artist, Jacalyn Beam,  is also well known in this area for her oil paintings of bucolic Chester County scenes. Her donated original oil is of a classic red barn - perfect for the Chester County audience. The donated painting will be up for raffle, along with 25 other donated works, including art work by Annette Alessi, Jerry Dowling, Bruce Poulterer, Paul Koch, and Ursula Ippoliti.   Raffle proceeds go directly to support the educational programs of Chadds Ford Elementary School, and the winners will be announced at 3 p.m. on Saturday before the close of the show.

The Chadds Ford Art Show has a revered history in our area, when 68 years ago, in 1949, Betsy Wyeth, wife of the late great artist Andrew Wyeth, thought up the idea for The Chadds Ford Art Show. Her son painter Jamie Wyeth attended the school and helped to continue the tradition. The idea was for local artists to display and sell their art work for the enjoyment and education of the students at Chadds Ford Elementary School.

Perched on Sycamore, by Kathy Ruck, at Chadds Ford Art Show

Today the show still carries on, with a wonderful tradition of showing and selling local art in this Blue Ribbon historic school. Over the years many artists have added their own art to the school's walls, enhancing the beauty of the school and creating a palpable link between the area's artistic heritage and our area's future generations. Tours of the school's art collection are scheduled for Saturday March 25th from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Also on Saturday, March 25th, artist Rachel Romano is scheduled to give an artist's talk at 4 p.m. at Mala Galleria in Kennett Square. She is the featured artist this month. I am having trouble deciding which painting of hers that I would like to buy. Her mythical, intriguing visual stories in oil are captivating and lovingly rendered. Usually I am not a huge fan of descriptive texts, but her stories that accompany her works are beautifully written, and add a poetic dimension to her images. Her artist talk should be interesting and fun - a great place to be at 4 p.m. on a Saturday in Kennett Square!

The Road Roller by Rockwell Kent, Brandywine River Museum of Art

There are two wonderful museum shows currently in our area that are not to be missed. At our local gem of a museum, The Brandywine River Museum of Art, the exhibit is "From Homer to Hopper: Experiment and Ingenuity in American Art" through May 21. The show is such a surprise as it picks paintings by lesser known and well known artists that we have not seen before and puts them in a context of the time in relation to the events around them. As always, the show is hung so beautifully, drawing attention to each piece, yet linking it in subject or style to the works that near it. Examples of the show, include Georgia O'Keefe “Ranchos Church No. 11”, Edward Hopper "Approaching the City", a wonderful Rockwell Kent "The Road Roller", the iconic "Domino Players" by Horace Pippin and so many more to stir your interest in this fascinating American time of art in the 1930s and 40s.

The thing I like best about this show is that none of these works are the most famous of each of the chosen artists. It gives the viewer a chance to rediscover these well-known artists in a personal way. They are new and fresh to us, and that is exciting.  The curatorial commentary to each piece and to the show is, as always, excellent, informative, and creates an historical background to the time and to the artist involved.

I am a big fan of tonalism artist George Innes, and here they have two of his pieces. One is a scene full of people in a scene that is frankly dull to the contemporary senses, but zero in to the background and see the meat of how he represents nature, the "tonalism" for which he is acclaimed, and rediscover his evocation of the sublime. Check out this interesting show, pick your favorites, have fun with it, and don't forget to stop into their permanent collection of Wyeth favorites.

Wednesday March 22, Amanda Burden continues her lecture series "Her America: Three Women Artists from The Phillips Collection", from 11 a.m. to noon, with a discussion about Grandma Moses, who is featured in their current exhibit. The lecture is $10 for members and $15 for non-members. I grew up on The Night Before Christmas, with images by Grandma Moses. We read it together every year. There is a powerful simplicity to her imagery that speaks to child and adult alike, and the brilliant Amanda Burden's lecture should be a fascinating event to breathe life into this iconic American visual story-teller.

Go to Philadelphia now to see the blockbuster exhibit at The Philadelphia Museum of Art "In The Age of Homer and Sargent" which shows through May 14th. I do not know one person who has seen this show, who has not scheduled a repeat trip. It is that great.

Homer is well known to all with his evocative stormy seas, images of youth post-civil war struggling to survive through hardships.  He is the self-taught quintessential American painter who lauds the dramatic beauty of American landscapes and shines a light on the heroism and hardships of reaching the American ideal. Homer moves us, but Sargent takes us to a whole other plain of experience. His bravado in watercolors is unrivalled.

John Singer Sargent, famous for his oil portraits of people and life at the turn of the century, is unmatched by his work in watercolor. There is experimentation, bravado, innovation and brilliance. This show is not to be missed. Check out the Brandywine River Museum of Art Show, and then head to Philadelphia to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The journey will take you from discovery to bliss. As a part of our American heritage, you should bring the family. The works are about us all, Americans at a given time, by great artists that capture something completely unique to the American experience. What incredible shows for us all to enjoy this month!

Last but not least, The Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts at 200 Madison Street in Wilmington, has their huge annual bash this Saturday March 25. Go online to get your tickets. This is an enormous gala event with a black-light aerial performance by "In the Dark Circus Arts and Unplugged Lights" as well as food, drinks, and a silent auction of donated juried artworks. These people know how to throw a party. For entry it is $100 for members and $125 for non-members and it is sure to knock your socks off. All proceeds go to support this awesome contemporary museum that is free to the public.


About Lele Galer

Lele Galer is an artist who has chaired numerous art shows, taught art history and studio art, public art and has chaired, written and taught the Art in Action Art Appreciation series for the UCFD schools for the past 12 years. She worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and wrote for the Associated Press in Rome. She has been dedicated to Art History and art education for most of her adult life. Lele and her husband Brad own Galer Estate Winery in Kennett Square.



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