ART WATCH: Chester County awash with art in March

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Submitted to Ticket/Digital First Media

March offers a celebration of arts, with major art shows events every week.
The arts in our area really start up in full gear in March. With major art shows, gallery art openings and art museum blockbusters, this is a great month to get out and enjoy the art scene. There is a new and exciting art event every single weekend in March.
Events kick off with First Friday art gallery openings all over Chester County, and my favorite pick is at Mala Galleria in Kennett Square where painter Rachel Romano has the solo show “True North” throughout March, with an opening artist’s reception Friday, March 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the gallery at 206 East State Street in Kennett Square. Romano works out of her studio in Phoenixville, and has been busy non-stop. As the one of the featured artist’s for the famous Malvern Retreat House Art Show this Winter, she has major shows for the rest of the year, including at Mala Galleria in Kennett Square, Jed Williams Gallery in Philadelphia, The Chester County Studio Tour in May and then a fully awarded and paid for artist’s retreat to a chateaux in France for the summer.

Detail from “Deceit and Desire” by Rachel Romano.
Courtesy photo

Her fairy-tale-like imagery of long-necked bare-breasted women, harlequin males, birds and forest creatures, bring to mind Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” or early 20th century illustration. Romano describes herself as a “contemporary figurative painter depicting man’s history, memory, myths, and dreams.” Her most often painted character is a lithe female, which is her muse, whom she includes in various stories that unfold gently on the canvas. Often the loveliness of the female, animals and colors, is in sharp contrast to rather nasty imagery of thorns or blood. Her paintings are mesmerizing, whimsical, haunting … and people cannot get enough of them. Check out Mala Galleria and Rachel Romano paintings and drawings while you still can afford them.
The weekend of March 10th has two major art events, The Main Line Art Center’s “Draw the Line” (13th Annual Betsy Meyer Memorial Exhibition) in Haverford, and the annual Radley Run Art Show at Radley Run Country Club in West Chester.
“Draw the Line” opens with an artist talk and gallery tour March 10 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., followed by a gala party opening reception from 6:30-8:30 at The Main Line Art Center, located at 746 Panmure Road in Haverford. Amie Potsic, Executive Director and Chief Curator writes, “I feel so fortunate to be showing such talented artists in ‘Draw the Line.’ Each artist’s work uniquely involves the drawn line, but does so in surprising ways by using ceramics, conduit, ink, tape, and paint.

“Omega” by Paul Santoleri, Main Line Art Center

Our galleries will be transformed by their installations, sculptures, and videos so that audiences are transported with visions of the past and future.” The three “Draw The Line” artists are Paul Santoleri, Joanna Platt and Kelley Donohue. Paul Santoleri has created an extraordinary paper drawing installation that covers the walls, floor and ceiling. Clay sculptures by Donohue and unique light installations by Platt complete the show that is unlike anything ever seen in our area.
While you are gasping at the wonderful exhibition, meeting the artists and the curator, be sure to also check out the Main Line Art Center’s huge list of classes and workshops, and become a member. This is an amazing show, and the center is a terrific creative space for students and artist’s alike.
The annual Radley Run Art Show event, also starts Friday March 10 and continues through Saturday the 11th. Artist Karl Kuerner is the featured artist for the show this year, exhibiting along with 50 local artists at the “clubhouse” located at 1100 Country Club Road in West Chester. The show is a curated array of artists that range from abstract to traditional, steel sculpture to clay. It has something for everyone, and the art sales benefit three respected charitable organizations: Safe Harbor of West Chester, Community Volunteers in Medicine, and the Chester County Arts Association. The warm, cozy environment of the clubhouse, with a great bar, delicious appetizers and a friendly atmosphere, make this a particularly enjoyable art event. Friday March 10 from 6 to 10 p.m. is packed with people and has a party atmosphere, and Saturday it is more kid-friendly, showing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Book a brunch or lunch at the club’s bar for a hearty, relaxing treat with the family.
The art week begins early in the third week in March. On Thursday, March 16 The Chester County Art Association, has opening receptions from 5 to 7 p.m. for two fascinating new shows. “Point of View” opens in the Allison Gallery, with sculptor and multi-media artist John Baker, sculptor Richard Blake and painter Gus Sermas. Each of these fine artists have worked together as art professors at West Chester University and offer unique artistic points of view to the world around them. Their art works are innovative and exciting, and I very much look forward to seeing their worlds shown together in one space. In the adjoining Huston Gallery space, the new juried show “Body Language” explores gestural and figural expressions in art. The show’s entries were juried by contemporary painter and West Chester University professor Kristopher Benedict, and we should expect some very creative interpretations of the figure from this show. A great way to spend a Thursday! If you miss the reception, the two shows continue through April 13.
The weekend of March 17th, starts on St. Patrick’s Day, so get in your car and head south to the town of Oxford, where the opening for the “Reconstructed Materials” show curated by well- known steel sculptor Stan Smokler, leads a group of fine art steel sculptors at the Oxford Arts Alliance. The artist opening party is from 5 to 8 p.m., and the show continues through April 14. Gallery entrance is always free to the public, as is the opening party. The show is sponsored by Dansko’s philanthropic foundation, and the wine is provided by Galer Estate Winery in Kennett Square. The list of steel artists in the show include: Stan Smokler, Dave Beck, Rob Sigafoos, Lisa Fedon, Karen Delaney, Vicki Vinton, William Spiker, Jeff Bell, Antonio Calzada Charma, Joe Charma, Katee Boyle and myself. Stan Smokler is well known in our area as a sculptor, teacher and mentor to many of the steel artists of Chester County. His artwork is in collections and museums around the country, and his studio in Kennett Square is all a-buzz with activity in the summer when he holds his extremely popular steel workshops. This should be a terrific show, and a great chance for sculpture lovers to meet some of the top steel artists in our area.
Friday and Saturday March 24 and 25, is the annual Chadds Ford Art Show held at Chadds Ford Elementary School on Route 1 in Chadds Ford. Originally started by an artist group including Jamie Wyeth, The Chadds Ford Art Show is a long standing art show tradition in our area that includes 100 artists, and is the major fundraiser for the elementary school’s PTO programs and projects. The Friday night portion of the show runs from 7 to 10 p.m. and is usually brimming with people, music, and generously donated platters of hors d’oeuvres. The show continues on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and is a quieter day, when many buyers come back to make their purchases. This year’s featured artist is award winning Len Garon and the donating artist is Jacalyn Beam. Garon has shown at the art show for many years, and offers a wide range of subjects matter, from travel vistas, female studies, to florals and landscapes; all wrought by a loose brush with vivid colors. Beam is also a well known local artist who paints in the Brandywine tradition — lovely Chester County vistas, barns, still lives, all rendered with attention to light and form. She has donated a painting of a classic Chester County red barn for the auction’s raffle, where 100 percent of the proceeds go back to the school.
While this historic show is generally more known for its traditional landscapes and still lifes, there are also plenty of more abstract painters, some sculpture, jewelry, multi-medium art and photography. It is always a great show, and sales go to a great cause.

Lele Galer is an area artist with studio in West Chester.

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