ARTISTS FASHION LAND'S RESOURCES INTO EXHIBIT-QUALITY PRODUCTS Centre Daily Times By: Vania Cao March 12, 2004
Walk past the large windows into the sky-lighted atrium of The Gallery Shop, and you are greeted with a bold assortment of artwork from the natural world. This month's exhibit, "From the Farm and the Forest," features a blend of artistically crafted felted wool, drums and Shaker-style boxes made by local artists Judith Finkelstein, Chris Bittner and Steve Strouse, respectively.
Every month, The Gallery Shop's manager, Jennifer Philippoff, decides what three artists' work will be featured in a special exhibit in the shop's gallery.
"The title of this exhibit comes from the fact that we're inviting people to look at beautiful pieces of art created from the world around us," she said.
"The (artists) use local and exotic woods, wool and animal skins for the drums; they're all organic materials."
Long tapestries of swirling Native American shapes, fuzzy round hats festooned with felt flowers and fluffy trim, cocoon-shaped wall sculptures, wildly colorful vests, soft scarves and bright purses all made of handcrafted felted wool characterize Finkelstein's artwork. Her stylish hats, especially, have a drawing charm, making my fingers itch to pick one up and try it on.
"We wanted to use Judith's felted wool when the weather's still crisp," said Philippoff, "when the wool still makes sense for the time of year. Her wall sculptures are very unique, definitely puts people in a good mood before they come in."
Finkelstein's striking pieces, such as a black tapestry of white circles decorated with a string of pearly beads and splashes of aqua and blue, are tamed by the quiet presence of Bittner's sturdy wooden drums, placed strategically among other pieces of art on display. The tight drum skin invites a quick tap or two, eliciting a satisfyingly earthly beat. I doubt any visitor could resist trying them out.
Strouse's work consists of smooth, sophisticated oval boxes, with and without lids and handles, sitting in several short stacks of decreasing size. I picked one up that was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand and admired one doubling as a small coffee table, complete with glass top.
"People stack them for decoration," Philippoff said, "or use them for trays, tea, picnics and gifts, since they're made from local wood."
Philippoff chose to have these three artists display their work together be-cause the two- and three-dimensional art compliments one another, yet are unique in their medium and styles.
"The calm and curve of Strouse's boxes contrasts with the wild, faniciful felted wool," she said.
The variety of creativity presented in "From the Farm and the Forest" makes for a fun display. "People come in to play the drums and put on the hats," she laughed. "It's a very interactive exhibit."