Art Live: Expanding on an idea

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Greg Brellochs, Francis Beaty, Bryan Hoffman and Kate Norris at HOTBED

Before the pandemic, were we paying enough attention to nature? Many folks just didn’t have the time for it. But these days, a lot of us are finding solace in natural surroundings and longtime Chadds Ford resident and HOT•BED Gallery owner Bryan Hoffman, has been inspired. Now residing in Philadelphia, Hoffman’s plans include creating rich, immersive art experiences in and around his space in the Jewelers’ Row District.  With Hoffman’s passion for biophilia, HOT•BED is shining a light on the relationship between contemporary art and nature.  He is kicking things off post shutdown with a group show that he curated and titled “Growth Determined.”

Gregory Brellochs' Lichen XVI
Graphite on Paper

It’s a multi-disciplinary exhibition featuring works by Francis Beaty, Gregory Brellochs and Kate Norris. Hoffman met Beaty during a visit to her studio during Philadelphia Open Studio Tour (POST) two years ago. “We knew we wanted to build out a show starting with a concept that first jelled with Francis. I saw Kate’s work in Rehoboth Beach and knew hers would fit with my vision and I found Gregory’s work on the online art site InLiquid; it was perfect. The concept has a lot to do with nurture versus nature. I continue to be fascinated by biological creatures and their ability to transform. We can do that too.”

'Up from the Deep' by Francis Beaty at HOTBED

Each artist references natural forms in their work while creating new organic structures which foster a fresh interactive dialog. Brellochs' work is created less from an illustrative approach and more from just being inspired by natural forms. “I’m always looking for form languages that speak to me in a certain way that I can then internalize. I try to come up with a set of parameters defining the language and how it’s going to evolve and inform, but then in the act of making it, there are no references. I’m not looking at something. The work comes out of my imagination.”

According to Hoffman, “Each of these artists’ work appealed to me and spoke to what I wanted to get across. People can appreciate the art for what it is on the surface but I hope they can go a little deeper.” Brellochs agrees. “It goes back to thoughtful concepts of nature; the symbiotic relationships between different organisms creating this colony of interactions. When you bring two different things together, a certain kind of synergy takes place that then gives you this emerging, evolving third thing that’s a new creation.

'Love' by Kate Norris

Beaty uses manmade materials as her vehicle to create what appears to be organic sculptural forms. She sources her materials from a variety of locations including items found in hardware stores to scraps she found ages ago in her father’s garage. Norris creates collages made with torn images of animals, flora and fauna that from afar, emerge as human. And Brellochs is creating creatures which remind the viewer of very common forms in nature, such as lichens, but are entirely of his own imagination. Brellochs said, “Bryan already had the vision and we fit it, then a dialog ensued. Art can’t be reduced to verbal communication. It’s like hitting various notes and the whole joy of it is, letting that wash over you and then reflecting on it and seeing where it takes you.”

Growth Determined is open for in person and online viewing now through October 31, 2020. To view this lush, stimulating exhibition online click here. To make an appointment, click here.

Karen Weber, Merrill Weber and Mary Manning, owner at Visual Expansion Gallery

Closer to home, the show “Weber and Weber” at Visual Expansion Gallery in West Chester may remind you of the last remnants of summer. Featuring Merrill Weber and Karen Weber, it’s full of color. Karen Weber shared this about their names, "We are not related at all, but the gallery owner and manager came up with the idea to show our work because of our last names. They also liked the idea of showcasing two women whose work is different yet both joyful and whimsical."

Merrill Weber is inspired by her son, who is autistic. “Seeing the world through his eyes has challenged me to communicate feelings of joy and delight without words, and inspires me to create loose floral imagery bursting with sensations of buoyancy, color, movement and harmony.” She enjoyed making art as a kid but put it on hold to earn a degree in journalism, make a career as a flight attendant, to marry and raise a son. After her son was able to move into a nearby group home, she began painting again and hasn’t stopped since.

'Intention is Everything' by Karen Weber at Visual Expansion Gallery

Karen Weber earned a BFA in ceramics and sculpture but art took a back seat while motherhood became a priority for her too. In 2013 she took up painting and hasn’t looked back. She loves spontaneous and expressive brush work. “My favorite method of oil painting is alla prima. I often try to capture the unique personalities of animals and quirks of everyday objects and love to combine them in unexpectedly playful designs. I think it can be said that we both strive to see optimism and joy in life and that comes across in our paintings. Merrill's florals achieve the same spontaneity and liveliness.” Merrill Weber echoes the sentiment, “What our work has most in common is the feeling it evokes in the viewer --- that being HAPPINESS! People want to feel happy, now more than ever, and our work gives them that.”

'Color My World' by Merrill Weber at Visual Expansion Gallery

Visit Visual Expansion Gallery during business hours through October 31st.

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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