Last weekend the Wilmington Art Association opened their 37th annual Juried Spring Art Show and Sale, the official art show of the Azalea Festival. Featuring 170 artists from North Carolina, mostly from New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties, varied watercolors, paper collages, acyrlics, alcohol inks, oils and more are displayed.
“The work is either hanging on the movable carpeted walls, resting in black bins for flipping through, or sitting on pedestals, as with wood, clay and glass sculpture,” according to Susan Buteau, spring show chair of Wilmington Art Association. “Visitors enjoy all the art, but more bin pieces are sold as they are unframed and generally less expensive.”
Raleigh painter Dan Nelson judged the work, with Janet Sessoms’ oil painting, “Too Delicious,” taking home the blue ribbon. Overall, 35 ribbons were awarded, including a Merit Award given to John Wulfmeyer for his “Once Upon A Time” watercolor. The piece is a feat in realism; it looks like a photograph more than a watercolor and showcases Wulfmeyer’s deft control over the loose paint.
“It features a window with a tattered curtain in an abandoned, dilapidated old homestead on the prairie of the Kansas Flint Hills,” he says. “The painting represents latent memories of family life in a time long ago. It took great patience to draw all the single threads in the curtain.”
It’s a vast difference when compared to the “A Whale Of A Tale In Ushuaia” oil on canvas. The piece is more of a fantasy landscape, showcasing coastal Ushuaia, Argentina. “It’s the southern-most village in the world,” Wulfmeyer says. “It is literally the bottom of the inhabited earth. It was a magical place to me, so I painted trees with hands and feet; the rocks became strange animals, the rain was alive, and the island’s eyes watched over the bay.”
Once Wulfmeyer began painting, he discovered a newfound freedom his career in architecture didn’t allow. He sees the world how it could be rather than how it is; he is no longer bound to present precise representations of design concepts to clients. Rather, he can design from his own inspirations.
“Fine arts require imagination and creativity but without the strict design codes and regulations of architecture,” he notes. “I find it all very liberating.”
An architect of 47 years, Wulfmeyer retired in 2014 and moved to Wilmington two years ago. He has lived in Zürich, Switzerland, and most recently in L.A. His travels along the Eastern coastline led him to ILM. “Wilmington stood out, so we sold our home, moved, and I love it here,” he tells.
While he trained in mathematical drawings during his architectural courses in school, the freehand courses really showcased an innate ability for design and, in essence, art. Today he embraces the latter, a more free aesthetic.
“I am simply enjoying self-learning,” he admits, “learning how to create compositions and images with myriad different media available”
In fact, he is not going to limit his scope in any one way. Each aesthetic has a different, rich appeal to it by providing new learning techniques. He works in oil, watercolor, pastel, oil pastel, charcoal, and colored pencil, and often in subject matter of landscapes, portraiture, animals, figures, still-lifes, abstracts and fantasy.
“So some mediums may be better suited for a particular project,” he tells, “and another medium for a different project. An artist should be reasonably skilled in all.”
Seemingly, Wulfmeyer is; he’s placed in both WAA shows over the last two years. He also had a watercolor accepted in the Adirondack National Juried Watercolor Exhibition in New York. His next center of focus will be on a few small foodie paintings, according to Wulfmeyer.
Also a prolific painter is Patti Chisolm, whose works have been shown in Franklin Square Gallery in Southport, at ArtExposure in Hampstead, and at the Arboretum show, as well as WAA’s annual sale and exhibit. In 2019 Chisolm has two pieces included, each of which vary in subject and size. “Above & Below” (acrylic) was inspired from a personal struggle.
“I actually put it away for at least a year, then tacked it up on my wall, and, suddenly, I connected and off I went…” the artist tells. “The colors and brush strokes danced together!”
She also features part of her tree series in the acyrlic “Arboresque.” The collage is made from cut pieces of paper and scraping the painting on top.
“I may start with an idea,” Chisolm tells, “but I allow the process to lead me on a journey. Sometimes this path is quite straight, but much of the time the path is winding, hilly, and fraught with both dangers and delights.”
Chisolm became enamored by art at the young age of 9. She found a wooden box in her family’s attic. The treasure inside consisted of oil paints, brushes and a painting of a dog. “I kept it hidden in my room,” she says. “It turned out to be my Dads possessions. He gave up painting to go to work at a real job, right after I was born.”
She also would sneak into her uncle’s art studio when she visited her cousins—a place well-known to be off-limits to the children. “I was mesmerized!” she tells.
Chisolm followed in her family’s passion and began art classes in fourth grade. Her first work was a self-portrait. She illustrated herself as an artist—the stereotype every child dreams of: beret, smock, paint brushes, and palette included.
It wasn’t until her senior year in high school when she decided to take another class. She dropped Calculus and sat in on an art class. “I’d spent most of my time daydreaming and painting in my Minds Eye,” she says. “I just knew [art would be the center of my career.]”
After college, wherein she graduated with a bachelors degree in studio arts with a major concentration in photography and film, she started her first job for PBS television, doing their graphic works and illustrations. But she always loved the “idea making” aspects of the job best.
“Creating quick sketches to ‘sell’ my ideas to clients,” as she describes. She was worked in watercolor/Gouache, cut paper, markers and the like until 1987. The computer took over the industry, and when Photoshop hit the market, the new illustration software combined her love for fine art and design. “I thought I was in Heaven!” she exclaims.
In ‘97, she expanded into painting once again—oils, acrylics, pastels, mixed-media. She went on to teach at Northern Virginia Community College and in DC before moving to Hampstead, NC, five years ago when her husband decided to retire. She continues to teach privately in her studio.
“I love to draw, and graphite, charcoal and a sketchbook are my trusted companions,” Chisolm says. “I still occasionally work on a computer, but I enjoy making a mess in my studio experimenting with materials.”
After WAA’s current show, she has plans to visit a friend in Arizona and take on a different landscape from the coastal South: the desert.
“Arizona is beckoning me!” she admits. “I used to live in Colorado and was inspired by the terrain and colors of the entire area. So we will see [what comes of it].”