Four years ago ACME studio artist MJ Cunningham invited several fellow female artists to collaborate with her for a new show. After the initial success of their first exhibition, the artists started their own group called “Diverse Works.” This year the Diverse ladies are back with new and veteran faces. Featuring work from Cunningham, Katherine Webb, Peggy Vineyard, Chris Farley, Anne Sinclair, Kate Sinclair, Liz Hosier, Harriett Marshall Goode, and Kelly Merritt, Diverse Works opens “Vibrations,” on Friday, Sept. 22, as part of Arts Council of Wilmington/NHC’s monthly Fourth Friday Gallery Nights.
Webb, a well-versed artist of many media, has been with the group since its inception. Her involvement with Diverse Works began with her friendship with Cunningham.
“MJ and I had a show together in 2011 called ‘Passionate Illuminations,’ a.k.a. hot flashes, which was a lot of fun,” Webb recalls. “Right after was the time when Diverse Works came into being. The group has fluctuated between seven and 10 members.”
With seven artists participating in “Vibrations,” the group work creates complex and engrossing displays. “We’re a very cohesive group, which is extremely rare for a group of women our age,” Webb notes. “We’re all very creative in different ways, but we work very well together, and MJ is our fearless leader.”
Cunningham is known for her mixed-media works, as well as acrylic and oil paintings. She includes a balanced blend of realism and abstract pieces in her collection. Her collage/mixed-media demonstrate
She includes a balanced blend of realism and abstract pieces in her collection. Her collage/mixed-media demonstrate brilliant integration of ordinary bits of fabric, paper and other found materials to gain prominent texture, even amidst an eclectic background. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Cunningham’s mastered her abilities to capture the beauty of varied landscapes in realistic oil and acrylic works.
This year her daughter, Kelly Merritt, is joining the group exhibition. A graphic designer, Merritt is a skilled photographer as well and bringing wondrous healing properties of nature to the exhibit.
Webb dabbles in sculpture, mobiles, acrylic on canvas, and watercolor. “Anything I can get my hands on,” she quips. Art is something she says she was destined to do. “I don’t feel like I really had much of a choice in the matter; it’s just what I do and have always done, so I continue to do it. I’ve been making art for 70 years.”
As far as her creative process, Webb doesn’t stay tied to one thing in particular for long. She focuses all energy into one moment at a time. “Then something might spark an idea to try something else,” she notes. “It’s almost like reading two or three novels at the same time. These days I’ve been doing mostly abstract pieces on canvas or paper. Nature is a heavy influence in my work, especially the rhythms of nature from seascapes.”
Webb has appropriately shaken things up for “Vibrations” by presenting work typically out of her realm. Currently, two large canvases feature abstract landscapes. “I have two others, as well, that are very odd and not particularly pretty to look at,” she quips, “aside from the colors.” “Shaman’s Tale” and “He Thinks He Can Fly with That Thing” are figurative-abstract pieces. Each possess a colorful character: A turquoise bird, with an almost divine aura, rises among a dark cloud in “Shaman’s Tale.” A curious red figure holds a curved device in his outstretched arm in the latter painting. Another of Webb’s pieces is an abstract called “Storm A-Coming Way Yonder,” eerily appropriate in the midst of the monstrous hurricane season in our nation.
Alongside Webb, Cunningham and Merritt, “Vibrations” will feature the abstract acrylic paintings of Vineyard, who recently won Best in Show at the 18th annual Landfall Foundation Art Show and Sale, and Hosier’s abstract multi-media paintings, influenced by life experiences. Anne Sinclair will contribute recent works from her 2-D and 3-D collection of pieces inspired by nature, along with her daughter, Kate, a student at the Academy of Art in New York City. Farley’s vibrant, abstract acrylic works, and Goode’s figurative paintings will round out the exhibit.
“Vibrations” will open with a reception at ACME Art Studio on Friday, Sept. 22. The exhibit will remain on display until Oct. 27. Admission is free to the general public and all artwork is for sale.