Art Live: Success stories during the pandemic

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Susan Klinger with her painting "Drawn from Nature"

Artists continue to cook up ingenious ways to share work during this seemingly endless pandemic. When opportunities were canceled, Montgomery County artist Susan Klinger didn’t have much hope for sales or even that she would be productive with such turmoil all around. “I think we all became creative, thinking outside the box, about ways to get our art in front of potential customers.”

Top of the Dune by Susan Klinger

Klinger took to Facebook early on to generate interest in her work and it’s paid off in more ways than one. “Surprisingly, Facebook has been fabulous for me. Not just by posting but by also interacting with my followers became a great way to stay connected during a difficult time. I would post in-progress photos. Some very early in the art process and I posted several images with the caption Can you suggest a title? I am making lists of the many great suggestions, perhaps they will generate ideas for future work.” In addition, Klinger has sold five paintings. As many now know, selling art online has become the norm but it can still feel a bit strange for the buyer and seller when both are accustomed to seeing the work in person, normally in a gallery setting, before making a purchase. In Klinger’s case it became the driveway setting. In all but one case, the customer ultimately made the sale contingent upon seeing the piece in person and met her outside her home to see it before making the exchange.

Klinger echoes what many artists have shared recently, “Being trapped at home with no other life distractions provided plenty of uninterrupted studio time. It wasn’t always easy to stay focused, but I eventually found a new rhythm. It was important to turn off the news and schedule time in the studio.” Klinger works primarily in soft pastel and occasionally in oil, acrylic or mixed media.  Being a high school art teacher for 34 years kept her fluent in many mediums, so she isn’t afraid to switch things up from time to time. “I feel that this occasional change helps to feed my artistic brain. It especially helped during the quarantine, when I was feeling less than motivated, to experiment with wet paint, so different from dry pastel. I’ve learned that what is most important is to be authentic in what I paint.  It will ultimately resonate with the right people.”

Klinger captures beautiful moments of nature in her still life and landscape paintings. She excels at skies and can zero in on the translucence of a leaf like nobody’s business.  Klinger recently hung a live show but is still planning for virtual viewings.  “Since access by the public continues to be somewhat limited, I created a video walk-through that I posted online for those who are not able to get in to see it. I see myself continuing things like that in the future. The learning curve for technology has been steep and fast, but it will benefit me going forward.” Her solo exhibition is on view now through Sept. 10th at The Community at Rockhill Art Gallery in Sellersville. Contact Klinger to make an appointment. More of her works can be seen on her website here.

Elaine Soltis and her work. Photo courtesy of Reading Eagle

Reading artist Elaine Soltis didn’t let the pandemic slow her down. Soltis has been creating Instagram TV demos of her work to share at GoggleWorks (GW) where she’s had a studio for 10 years. “It is a different attitude for many artists, bringing us from our private focus and now into a virtual sharing of our progress, during this health and social upheaval.”  While GW was closed, she made work at her kitchen table and created four abstract paintings which were selected for a virtual, international community art exhibition titled Spirits of Isolation. Soltis said, “It unified the idea that those who create, will create, no matter what the circumstance.” The exhibition, sponsored by the New Arts Program and Berks Community Television, can be viewed here at BCTV. Soltis uses found objects and acrylic paints to create her organic works which are rich with texture and deep hues. Going to my studio until, COVID 19, had been part of my daily routine.

Spring Bouquet by Elaine Soltis

Once GW closed, I basically, used materials that were at home. I had some cold press watercolor paper, old watercolors, a few half-filled acrylic tubes, some gold enamel and four cradled panel boards with a can of cold wax and oil paint. That was my inventory. I was determined to use it all and I did.” Soltis is currently showing her work in the 16th annual juried exhibition The Art of Jazz, the first live show since GW re-opened, in the Schmidt Gallery, through August 30th. Reservations to see the show can be made here. For more on Elaine Soltis, visit her website and Instagram page.

Other events worth checking out: Artist Beth Bathe is hosting a virtual TGIF for artists with a model for reference through her Short Dog Studio page, on Facebook. Visit Short Dog Studio for all the details. A new show opens in Malvern on Wednesday, August 12th at Gallery 222 and features Kristi Gilfillan, Al Moretti and Nancy Granda. A virtual reception is scheduled for August 13th. Check the gallery’s website for updates.

Flying High by David Katz

The David Katz Gallery, a new one in West Chester, will be featuring the bold works of Sky Painter David Katz as well as works by other Chester County artists. A grand opening is being planned for September. For more information visit the Facebook page. More news on this in a future column.

Whatever you do this week, support the arts!!

About Constance McBride

A native of Philadelphia, Constance McBride lived in Arizona for 16 years, where desert observations made a transformative impact on her work as a research based visual artist. Passionate about contemporary art, she was actively engaged in the local arts community. She served as a board member for several art organizations, managed an artist collective/gallery space, curated and juried several exhibitions and wrote for two arts publications in Phoenix. She taught ceramics at Shemer Art Center and Museum and exhibited her work both locally and nationally. McBride returned to Pennsylvania in 2018 and resides in Chester Springs with her husband and two dogs. In West Chester, she serves as a board member at The Art Trust Gallery at Meridian Bank and teaches ceramics at Chester County Art Association. She also teaches at Clay on Main in Oley, PA. She is a member of American Craft Council, Philadelphia Sculptors, and Women’s Caucus for Art, Philadelphia Chapter.

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