In times of strife—like our ongoing pandemic—we turn to art. People are consuming TV, painting, art and music to cope with feelings of anxiety and a need to connect with others. So, what do artists do when times get hard? They, too, turn to art.
Brush Strokes Gallery’s November exhibit explores how its artists celebrate the “spirit of gratitude—for the large, small and unexpected treasures in our lives,” according to spokeswoman Norma Woodward. “We Give Thanks” opens this week and continues through the end of the month. It features the majority of the gallery’s 20 member artists.
Woodward is grateful for her travels and is showing photos of Chicago, Buchanan, Va., and her native Mississippi. The wide and wonderful world is also displayed in Buddy Lauer’s photo of insects (“Trapped”) and seasonal paintings like Nancy Williams’ “Overlook–Early Fall,” Sarah Flinn’s “Winter Mail” and “Road to Autumn” by Stacy Gaglio.
Relationships, too, are the focus of many pieces that are being exhibited in November. Carol Haynes depicts a cat in her portrait “My Friend Thomas,” while Denise Denecke has painted a young fisherman and his catch. And “Together Forever,” a painting of swans in synchronous floating by Weekender contributor Collette Caprara, evokes an enduring love.
“In this season of gratitude, I hope that my painting of two swans floating together will convey their legendary connection with each other and their bond for life, symbolizing love that goes on eternally,” Caprara said.
Beverly Toves strikes a lighthearted tone with her “Girl with the Chocolate Chunk Cookie” that is both uplifting and a commentary on guilty pleasures, which strikes a unique and fitting chord for the present time.
Even more work is being shown from artists Penny A. Parrish, Hailey Light, Medina Roberts, Megan Lee Crockett and others. Brush Strokes’ artists work in “a spectrum of mediums,” Woodward said. That includes jewelry, glass, metal, mixed metal, charcoal and pastels, as well as photography, paintings in oils, watercolors and acrylics.
“It is a delight to see how all of our artists expressed their gratefulness for special moments and scenes in our November exhibit,” Caprara said. “Our gallery truly embodies the spirit of ‘family’ through the authentic care and support our members offer to one another, our visitors and other artists in the community. My hope is that those who view this exhibit will leave uplifted and embraced by that spirit.”
All the work in this month’s show can be previewed at brushstrokesfredericksburg.com. The gallery has enhanced its online presence to bring its artists’ work to a wider audience while also remaining socially distant. Due to the pandemic, there are no First Friday opening events at the gallery, but Brush Strokes is open from Thursday through Sunday for in-person viewing and purchasing. New safety measures, including mask-wearing, are in place to protect shoppers and artists. In addition to its weekend hours, Brush Strokes will also be open by appointment.
Woodward said just like the collaborative nature of the show, running the gallery is a collective effort. Starting this month, artist Beverley Coates is coordinating a selection of small art pieces for holiday shoppers. And to delight passersby, artist Carol Haynes decorates the window each month.
That nature of cooperation in the gallery, and the supportive community of artists in Fredericksburg are another reason to be grateful.
“Art helps people,” she said. “Even if it’s just coming in just to look around and feel better. We’re continuing to do art. That’s what we do. We’re artists and we keep going.”