Eye on Art

Image | Courtesy of Sheryl Massaro “San Francisco di Assis, Taos” by Sheryl Massaro.

Image | Courtesy of Sheryl Massaro
“San Francisco di Assis, Taos” by Sheryl Massaro.

The Evolution of Art & Pen— Local Artist Finds her Niche

Sheryl Massaro recently opened a new studio and gallery in the Griffin Art Center, Downtown Frederick. Named Art & Pen, it is a destiny that she has traveled toward since she moved to Urbana from Kentlands 10 years ago.

“Every time I walk in there I feel glad,” she said. She noted the unique beauty of the area, the inclusiveness of the community and the immense art family in Frederick. “What really captured me was the energy—I didn’t find that anywhere else. I saw all kinds of people walking down the street and I thought, I need to be here,” she recounted as we chatted in her cozy, artwork-filled Urbana home. “It is city-like, but with its own character and unique feeling.”

Sheryl’s artistic inspiration is her mother, who was a watercolorist. When her mother passed away, she left behind a treasure chest of books and supplies. Some were given away, but Sheryl kept the oil paints and started to dabble in an alcove of her kitchen.

In 2004, she took her first art class, in composition at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn. She studied, attended workshops and began to exhibit and sell some pieces.

She continued her work, and it really took off once she moved to Frederick in 2010. She emphasized the importance of drawing and said she favors the more traditional. “I like old oil paintings!” she said, laughing.

She has exhibited all over the area including the Gaithersburg Arts Barn, Artists & Makers in Rockville, TAG in Frederick, and Washington County Fine Arts Museum and was part of a large, small-group show at the Delaplaine last year. With her new studio, Art & Pen, Sheryl is working on larger pieces that were not feasible in her home studio. An old love, poetry, is also present at the studio.

Sheryl earned an MFA in creative writing/poetry from The American University, and recently she has begun work on a new book of poetry. “I was fortunate to have studied under a lot of good writers who were still alive in the ‘80s when I was studying, like Allen Ginsburg,” she said. She had become distanced from poetry for about 30 years but, when gallery owners found that she had a background in writing poetry and leading workshops, they began to ask her to teach at the galleries.

She also hosts a group, “Words in Progress,” in her home once a month to share ongoing projects. Late last year, she was invited to participate in a book-signing event in Frederick, and decided it was time to self-publish. Her book, “The Hood of Evening,” has been received well and has led to invitations to give readings and talks on poetry. “Poetry should be about everyday stuff, using everyday language. Both painting and art are exercises in perception,” she said.

After she moved to Urbana, she began to explore plein air painting and has since participated in a number of plein air events, including Paint Snow Hill on the Eastern Shore. She would take reference photographs during her plein air work, and this in turn piqued her interest in photography.

Now a member of the Frederick Camera Clique, Sheryl was invited to showcase her iPhone photos at a Delaplaine show recently. “I don’t like to manipulate with Photoshop, but I do like to crop and see how perspective changes. It’s a good way to train the eye and helps with painting,” she said. “I like to be as objective as I can when I’m painting.”

Sheryl’s current work includes large abstracts to be exhibited at the Gilchrist Museum of The Arts in Cumberland in late August. For this, she is happy to have the new studio. She also missed the routine of “going to a job” and enjoys interacting with other resident artists in the building. “Over the last several months, I’ve gotten reacquainted with my work—art and poetry—and am enjoying it and feeling more comfortable using it for what I want to say.”

Join Sheryl at Art & Pen for First Saturday wine and cheese receptions on the first Saturday of each month, 5 to 9 p.m. in the Griffin Art Center at 437 N. Market St. “Structures,” an exhibit of all kinds of structures from local to around the world, both paintings and photos, begins on June 2. Her work can also be found on her website, www.sherylmassaro.com.

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