Art exhibits help bring Main Street to life

By Kitty LeShay - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Tue., Feb. 19, 2013
(L-r) Karen DePersia and Katherine Mann paint in oils. Mann’s work is in the center, and DePersia’s is on both sides of Mann’s paintings. Photos by Kitty LeShay.
(L-r) Karen DePersia and Katherine Mann paint in oils. Mann’s work is in the center, and DePersia’s is on both sides of Mann’s paintings. Photos by Kitty LeShay.

Business owners, artists and craftspeople have combined resources and creativity to bring a delightful evening to area residents on the second Friday of each month. On Feb. 15 (delayed a week by the blizzard), Three Graces Vintage on Main Street hosted a reception for an exhibit by four Connecticut impressionist painters who work and show together.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the revitalization of downtown,” said Lisa Zelonka, owner of Three Graces Vintage. “Several shops exhibit artwork every second Friday. We all want to support local artists and provide unique products.”

The artists in the “Connecticut Impressions” show were kicking off their exhibition tour in Stafford. Nancy Cooke-Bunnell’s pastels of farms, particularly her cows and landscapes, are familiar to many in the region. Helen Davis also works with pastels paints New England landscapes. Karen DePersia has rediscovered her passion for art and began painting in earnest in 2009, and joins the group with landscape, coastal and still life themes. She and Katherine Mann both work in oil.  Mann favors still life, with flowers and fruit being favorite subjects. Together, their work presents a varied and dynamic exhibit.

“Light and color is pervasive through impressionistic art. You can see these in our work,” Cooke-Bunnell said.

“Working together has many benefits: friendship, support, constructive input,” DePersia said. “We thought we could encourage and motivate each other by showing together.”

Another added benefit is that the artists can market their work together by one person covering the bases for the other three. Mann plans to approach some shoreline galleries for the upcoming summer season. “Marketing is time-consuming. Painting is an all-consuming passion. There is a steep learning curve, and never enough time to learn all you need to know,” she said.

The artists work both in the studio and “en plein air,” which means painting outside. “You have to work quickly ‘en plein air’ to capture the freshness of the moment,” Davis said.

Three Graces Vintage was a perfect place for the exhibit, which is hung along a long brick wall in the store with cozy chairs and tables interspersed throughout the area. It will be on display until March 6.

At exhibit openings, often the second Friday of the month, refreshments are served. Zelonka and Three Graces Vintage will be hosting The Ballard Institute, the UConn School of Puppetry, on March 8.

“Connecticut Impressions” artists will be showing next at the Keri Gallery in Willimantic, with the opening reception held on March 21. That exhibit will run through April 30.

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