One of the annual highlights of the Brandywine art scene is the Unionville High School Art Gala, returning next weekend, Nov. 17 and 18 for its 47th year. A unique event that celebrates regional professional artists as well as student artists, it brings together the community to support educational enrichment and local community outreach efforts.
The Unionville Art Gala was founded in 1949 by Betsy Wyeth as a fundraiser for Chadds Ford Elementary School. It has grown to become a favorite part of the fall calendar for the community and local artists.
“I think many people look forward to attending The Art Gala year after year, just as they do with some of the other shows in the Brandywine Valley region,” said Sarah Snyder-Dinsel, a participating artist.
One thing that draws artists year after year is the feeling of excitement that comes from the young artists who participate in the show, reminding artists of their own beginnings. “I remember in high school winning a school art competition and having my self-portrait hung in the House of Representatives in Harrisburg,” said Snyder-Dinsel. “I thought that was pretty awesome.”
Shawn Faust, this year’s featured artist said, “I was very proud of when my artwork was chosen for the cover of my high school calendar my freshman year,” said Shawn Faust. “I was beyond thrilled to draw the covers for the next three years.”
From those origins, Faust has become known as one of the premier equine artists in America, showing the personality of the animals he paints with emotion and vibrant flair. “To have an opportunity to participate in the Unionville Art Gala, which continues to hold the torch for supporting the local arts in the Brandywine community, is very special and important to me.”
Even the participating artists have connections from their student days, Snyder-Dinsel noted. “I went to the University of Delaware with [Shawn Faust],” she said. “We were both illustration majors. His work was genius even back then.”
The annual art show has become a favorite for other participating artists, too.
“Not only is the Unionville Art Gala one of my favorite shows because of the camaraderie that exists between the volunteers, artists, and staff, but I love giving back to the district,” said Margaret Matuszewski. “Opening night is always filled with a high level of excitement as patrons view the art and talk with the artists. If you’ve never seen the show, it’s a mix of fine art, jewelry, pottery, photography, and spectacular student art.”
Organizing more than 175 student artists and their work is no easy task. “I am blown away by the caliber of the student artwork,” said Snyder-Dinsel, who also helps organize the Student Art Show. “It is truly impressive.”
More than 60 professional artists from the region participate in the show, with artworks in diverse mediums. There will also be a Silent Auction with artworks and donations from local businesses, raffles, and a Paint Party on Saturday where guests can paint their own masterpieces.
“The Brandywine Valley is steeped in art history, and I am privileged to be a steward of that tradition,” said Faust. The Unionville Art Gala owes much to the Brandywine Tradition, from when Betsy Wyeth founded the event to the many talented and famous artists who have participated over the decades. “The local art scene in the area is very robust, given the talent of our artists and their unwavering talent of perseverance to create.”
The array of art, mediums, and artists creates a vibrant show that brings in visitors from the local community and far beyond. “There are so many different styles, so many fabulous things to see and buy,” said Snyder-Dinsel. “I always enjoy chatting with my fellow artists at this show. There is bound to be a good story or two or ten!”
“I hope visitors realize that art is a diary of our culture written through the eyes of creative people who put their heart and soul in every work for the viewer to experience the world in a different way,” said Faust. “Perhaps to see the ordinary as extraordinary or simply to enjoy the act of experiencing color and form in your own personal way. From 2-D to 3-D and everything in between, creativity has allowed humanity to dream, innovate, and thrive as a civilization. Without the creative arts, life stops beating.”
The 47th Unionville Art Gala will be held Nov. 17 from 6 to 9 p.m. (adults only) and Nov. 18 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (family friendly) at Unionville High School, 750 Unionville Road, Kennett Square. More information can be found at UnionvilleArtGala.com.