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Elements of Nature

Opening Reception for SCAPES : Land, Figure and Sea
6 – 9 p.m., Saturday, October 6
Projekte Gallery & Lounge
523 South 3rd Street • Free
theprojekte.com

The one thing I’ve learned since living here is that the geography of our city provides an unlimited source of admiration and inspiration by its artists. From its majestic beach to its evergreen trees, it seems that local artists have attempted to capture Wilmington’s splendor with their art for a long time. This week at Projekte Gallery and Lounge in downtown Wilmington proves no otherwise as they present “SCAPES: land, figure and sea,” its new exhibit featuring the previous gallery owner Bonnie England and local artist Danielle Couture.

Longtime friends from college, the two artists also share a collective artistic vision; England and Couture both explore expressionistic ideals and playful color palettes, depicting—as the exhibit’s title implies—natural landscapes, seascapes and human forms.

“Danielle and I are both in transitional stages of our lives and our new artwork is reflective of these positive changes,” England says. “Although our primary focus has been figurative work, our figures are reminiscent of landscapes with their ability to transport the viewer to a distinct, tangible place.”

A Wilmingtonian since 1991, England has not only been a staple in the local art community but has held art residencies in France and Spain. The unique look and feel of England’s work can be attributed to her use of secondary colors; she says she eschews primary colors in favor of secondary hues that propagate a new visual revelry. For example, one painting to be featured in SCAPES, entitled “Whistler Too—revisited,” features two blackbirds amidst a colorful and magical preternatural setting of orange, cerulean blue and sea green. Nature is a persistent theme in each of England’s compositions; often they reflect personal experiences brought on by the people and places that surround her.

“I would imagine most people are naturally inspired by nature,” England says. “For me, it’s more of an attraction to the amalgamation element of nature, the way that it blends tempest and stillness, beauty and repulsion, torrid and frigid, beginning and cessation, and yet continues to be complete and whole.”

England says she’s had plenty of time to immerse herself in nature as of late. Since she sold Projekte, she and her boyfriend have been busy renovating her family’s 100-year-old farmhouse and plans on filling the surrounding property with chickens, goats and honeybees, in addition to first setting up a studio space.

Born and raised in western Massachusetts, Couture moved to Wilmington to attend UNCW where she acquired degrees in Studio Art and Elementary Education. Figures and portraits are the primary subjects of her work, but are often depicted in an abstract manner. Couture utilizes photographs and sketches of live models as a guide for building and manipulating layers of paint, pastels and pencils into its final distillation. In a statement, Couture says, “I don’t usually set out to portray a specific theme or vision. Later on I may see a mood or emotion that I may have subconsciously been expressing at the time but my main intent is to make art that is beautiful yet intriguing beyond being simply decorative.”

“Art making to me is about making connections, and since the day I met Danielle in college, we’ve had a kindred connection,” England says. “I find [her] work to be a creative tour de force. We’ve been trying to do a show together for a while but both of our schedules have been too hectic up until now.”

The opening reception for SCAPES will be held on Saturday, October 6th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. with live music, light hors d’oeuvres and an informal meet-and-greet session with the artists. Local singer/songwriter Chris Riendeau will perform from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and acoustic rockers Routine Man will close out the night from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The exhibit will be on view at Projetke through November 3rd. A second reception will be held again as a part of the Fourth Friday Gallery Nights on October 26th.

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