Old and new at CFES art show

The 69th annual art sale and show at Chadds Ford Elementary School continues through 4 p.m. today.

The 69th annual Chadds Ford Elementary School Art Sale and Show got off to a good start Friday night with a gymnasium packed with art, artists and visitors looking to support the school.

Nearly 70 professional artists had their work on display for sale, with 30 percent of the sale price going to the CFES PTO to support educational enrichment programs.

Chadds Ford native Nicki Wandersee is taking part in the show for the first time as an artist.

Many of the artists were returnees. Jacalyn Beam returned as this year's featured artist and Kathy Ruck, another returnee, is the donating artist. And Chadds Ford's own Karl Kuerner was on hand with a display in a separate room.

But Kuerner wasn't the only Chadds Ford native showing at the school. Nicki Wandersee went through the U-CF school system, attended CFES as a student and would go to the show as a kid and as an adult. Yet, this was the first time she showed her work at the show that was founded by Betsy Wyeth.

"It's incredible. I never thought I'd be showing here when I was a kid. It's an amazing experience," she said when asked how she felt displaying her work at the school.

Wandersee has been sketching for years, and her primary focus is on creating animal characters. She said she likes to give each one a "specific personality to connect with people."

Wandersee said it took time to develop the courage to display her creations, but with her husband's encouragement, she decided to make the bold move.

"He gave me the courage to show more and more people. I love what I do and want to make people happy," she said.

This year's featured artist, Jacalyn Beam, talks art with visitors at her display on the stage in Chadds Ford Elementary School gymnasium/auditorium.

Part of her growth as an artist has been learning new techniques and putting more detail into her sketches.

Wandersee was one of a handful of new artists at the show. Several couldn't be tracked down, but Cheryl Elmo, from Morgantown,  was available, eager to get her name out into the Chadds Ford art community.

She learned about the show through a friend of a friend but said she was happy to be in it.

"I'm happy to be here. I have a lot of people interested in my watercolors and a lot of people talking about my acrylics. And some people have come by saying they're going to have a show and want me to enter," she said.

Elmo focuses on people and said she uses her art to tell a story. As an example, she pointed to a watercolor of two young girls in the wings of a stage while others are on stage performing. The painting doesn't show the actual performers, just the two girls looking, wanting to be part of the performance.

One, she said, is looking to see where her success might be, wondering how to "get there." The other girl is more tentative, but still wondering how she gets to her next step in the performance hierarchy.

Regarding technique, Elmo said hers is unique, that no one else does it.

"There's no one in the whole wide world that does watercolor like I do. I've developed a style where I break every rule of watercolor," she said.

The technique, which looks like loose drops or dots, she calls "droplets of color."

The show continues today through 4 p.m.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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