‘Water’ Represented—Placid as a Stream, Turbulent as the Ocean

Photo | Marylou Bono (L to R) In early June, artists Jane Knighton, Carol Walsh, Regine Camacho, Allen Bentley, Carol Sontheimer, Fredericka Weiner, Pritha Srinivasan, Donna Baron, Brenna Lenchak and Gretchen Gobin visited with Arts Barn gallery patrons and discussed their work exhibited in “Water.”

Photo | Marylou Bono
(L to R) In early June, artists Jane Knighton, Carol Walsh, Regine Camacho, Allen Bentley, Carol Sontheimer, Fredericka Weiner, Pritha Srinivasan, Donna Baron, Brenna Lenchak and Gretchen Gobin visited with Arts Barn gallery patrons and discussed their work exhibited in “Water.”

“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it, we are going back from whence we came.” So said John F. Kennedy in his remarks at a  dinner for the America’s Cup crews in 1962. Just as mystical as Kennedy’s words, artists of the region recently represented their visions of water at a new Arts Barn exhibit.

“Water” is an outstanding show, expertly curated by Mary Weiss-Waldhorn, that celebrates the beauty of water in its many forms. The 25 Maryland and Virginia artists offered their works in paintings, mixed media, photography and glass.

As a fused glass artist myself, I was intrigued by the work of Virginia glass artists Carol Sontheimer and Regine Camacho. They vividly captured the rhythm of waves with several of their pieces.

Sontheimer did this with a fascinating nautilus screen-printed onto glass and colored with powdered glass and frit. “I want people to think that the work is simple, but a lot goes into it—planning and color selection—you don’t get a chance to see the beauty of the mechanics,” commented Sontheimer. Her “Waterfall” using dichroic glass decals is also eye-catching.

Camacho’s flowing “Waterfall” with sparkling crushed glass was a favorite of many viewers at the reception. The sea theme “just happened” for her. “I love blue and the water,” she said.

The discerning eye of Westminster photographer Don James created his “Submerged and Ice Maze.” Colorful autumn leaves rhythmically flowing in the shallow water of Morgan Run Creek, south of Westminster, are the subject of “Submerged.” The movement and ripples of water dazzle the eye. “If you look longer, you can see the outline of the maple leaf,” James said. “I try not to do a lot of Photoshop. I adjust brightness, which allows colors to blend in.” “Ice Maze” is a small section of a 10×10 stretch of the creek, held up to the sun so the light and faint foliage shine through. It’s a geometric abstract and surprisingly a color photo, although it appears black and white.

Allen Bentley, artist, show juror and Montgomery College professor, primarily captures dancers in his expansive paintings. In a departure, he created “Stir,” a couple floating in a bubbly water dance.

“It becomes a performance,” Bentley said, “pageantry … a simple relationship between couples. It’s about them and their movement.” The artist stages photo shoots for all his work using live models, lights, camera equipment and costumes. “I always paint from live models. The production behind is just as important as the finished product.” He shoots photos and then paints from them … “sketching, drawing, planning.” Bentley will have a solo show of his dance paintings in January at the Mansion with an accompanying workshop.

The elegant watercolors of Pritha Srinivasan are an overwhelming sereneness … the vivid yet muted colors, the layering. “It’s visual poetry,” the artist said. “Magical … unpredictable, but you can experience control in it.” Nature, birds and water are favored themes finding their way into her work, which is also on view at Artists on Market on Market Street West. Srinivasan experiments with Chinese poured ink and recently has been painting egrets. “It’s flight and reinvention,” she said.

The Sink Artist a/k/a/Brenna Lenchak, a Bethesda artist in her first exhibit, discovered a new way to express her creativity when she was cleaning up her daughter’s leftover paints. “I saw it in the sink and watched it mixing with the water. I like to be present in the moment and thought, ‘What if I painted in the sink?’” She began to pour and swirl paint onto porcelain. Mixed with water, the resulting images are photographed. “I don’t try to edit,” she said. “I call it art of wear.” Lenchak prints onto scarves, yoga pants, coasters, shoes and framed prints. Her “Peacock” is a swirling symphony of color with smoky waves.

A young newcomer on the local photographic scene, Kentlands resident Nicholas Nazari exhibited two of his untitled drone photography scenes of Aruba. They would make terrific travel posters for the island, and I hope to see more of his work.

My “Best in Show” goes to the lovely Lakelands composite photographer Carol Walsh. Her “Life in a Seaside Bubble” is stunning: introspective, contemplative, dreamlike … a unique kaleidoscope. “It was a happy accident,” Walsh said. “It is a straight photo on the beach. I take pictures of bubbles to use in my collages and this big bubble floated up. … I had no idea until developing the photo that it would include my reflection in it.” The photo was taken on the isolated north end of Amelia Island, a favorite place for Walsh.

Start off your summer by stopping at the Arts Barn to submerge yourself in “Water”— 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

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