The meaning behind collaborative works of art is often much deeper than the piece itself. It’s about respecting creative ideas of other artists, cohesively working toward a common goal and, ultimately, the memories of the journey. On Friday, Aug. 4, Art in Bloom Gallery will host the opening reception of their newest exhibit “Art Double Feature: Curious Collaborations.” Divided between two galleries, the show captures sentiments of working together, sharing creative knowledge and integrating styles.
Gallery I hosts “Sharing a Room: Plein-Air Art by Carole Osman, Pamela Mork-Keegan and Linda Sells.” The trio originally met in Germany while teaching art through the Department of Defense Dependents school system, and planning student activities through the Overseas Art Association.
“The title of the show captures the nostalgia of working alongside one another as art teachers,” Osman says. “There are so many memories of painting together, and sharing creative space and ideas.”
Although, Mork-Keegan still teaches art in Germany, Sells now lives in NY, while Osman resides in the Port City. ”I still see samples and files of lessons from both Carole and Linda in the drawers,” Mork-Keegan says. “Our friendships have spanned years of painting together, teaching, traveling, and enjoying life.”
Despite the long distance, the artists were determined to collaborate once again. The chance came when Sells went to visit Mork-Keegan in Germany, who then decided they should combine their work for a new exhibit. Osman, Mork-Keegan and Sells all share a love for plein-air painting and pastels, naturally going with the medium as a running theme in their show.
“Being outdoors is the biggest advantage of plein-air painting over studio painting,” Sells notes. “The light is so much better for painting flora and fauna, especially in one of my favorite spots, Adirondack Park.”
While the collection will contain plenty of vibrant, visceral landscapes, Osman will contribute a few exceptions for variety. “I do have several paintings of snow,” she divulges. “They were obviously not plein air because of the elements, but I think they will be refreshing in this exceptionally hot weather.”
Over in Gallery II is “Making Masks: A Collaboration.” Painter Elizabeth Darrow and wood artist Dave Klinger decided to combine two very different skill sets at a birthday party for Klinger’s wife, Lisa. Darrow remembered how Klinger used to carve wooden masks.
“Just on a whim I said, ‘Why don’t you make some papier-mâché masks and I’ll paint them,’” Darrow recalls. To her surprise, Klinger immediately rose to the challenge. He called her three days later to let her know the first mask was ready.
“After that, it was a two-month whirlwind of mask-making,” Darrow says. “We made 26 masks in 60 days.”
Klinger would form recycled paper and cloth around chicken wire, wire cloth, clay, aluminum, and cardboard to create a variety of shape faces. Once each mask was bonded with PVA and plaster of paris, it was air-dried and sealed with acrylic modeling paste before Klinger handed it off to Darrow, who then brought the masks to life with acrylic and oil paints.
“Once he handed over the white form to me, I did whatever I wanted,” Darrow says. “We each worked independently of the other, but it all came together. I couldn’t do what he was doing, and he couldn’t do what I was doing, but together we made it work—a true collaboration.”
Darrow uses a number of other materials to bring out her own interpretation of the masks, creating a collection of fun and whimsical characters. One is called “Pot Head (Going Green)”—a plant-loving character adorned with an upturned pot, spilling green leaves and vines over the painted face. Another, “Cardinal Sins,” features a nun, surprised by the pair of cardinals on her head.
“After I’ve finished carving the mask and pass it on to Elizabeth, sometimes I find the character she paints is completely different than what I imagined,” Klinger notes. “That’s the beauty of this project: We let each other use our own styles without too much influence, and the result is much more genuine from each side. Hanging it up altogether, they look like a tribe—or a family of sorts.”
“Art Double Feature: Curious Collaborations” opens at Art in Bloom Gallery on Friday, Aug. 4, and will hang until Aug. 26. All works of art from both galleries are for sale.