National art show may have new home in Vernon

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon/Region - posted Thu., Aug. 1, 2013
Barbara Groff of Vernon said she's thrilled to have her work, 'Drop Leaf,' be part of the prestigious national exhibition. Photos by Steve Smith.
Barbara Groff of Vernon said she's thrilled to have her work, 'Drop Leaf,' be part of the prestigious national exhibition. Photos by Steve Smith.

The Vernon Community Arts Center is currently hosting a prestigious national art show, and two Vernon artists were selected to take part. The Academic Artists Association is holding its 63rd exhibition in Vernon. AAA President Doug Gillette, of Enfield, said the national show is often held in or near Springfield, Mass., most recently at American International College.

“The gallery space there isn't that good,” Gillette said. “I looked at different places, including Mystic, Old Lyme, and Bay Path College [in Longmeadow, Mass.]. We looked at this place and knew how important it was to the community of Vernon.”

Gillette said the AAA council also considered that the center's proximity to I-84 would be convenient for artists, as well as those who appreciate art to come to the show, but it was also about the center itself. “The town of Vernon had spent all the time and treasure to put this together,” he said. “We just talked about doing this again next year. This could be an ongoing thing for Vernon.”

The show includes artists from as far away as Florida, Arizona and California, as well as many from Connecticut.

For artist Barbara Groff, a Vernon resident, the show is nice to have in town. “It's wonderful to have it here,” Groff said. “I've heard nothing but positive comments. It's a wonderful venue, and I hope we continue to have the exhibit here."

Her pastel piece entitled “Drop Leaf” is of a forsythia and a robin's nest, resting on the edge of an antique drop-leaf table that had been in her family for some time. She said she feels the composition itself leads the viewer's eye through the painting.

“I just collect things, and then an idea comes to mind,” she said. “A lot of them are family heirlooms.”

Groff is also a member of several artists' associations, and said that while she spent some time in art school, she is primarily self-taught. Having worked as a graphic design artist, she began phasing out graphics and phasing in her fine artwork. She has been published in magazines, including Pastel Journal and the French publication, Pratique Des Arts.

Aniko Enderle is originally from Romania, but has been a Vernon resident for four years. She worked for years designing glass and furniture, as well as working in graphic design.

“Later on, I felt a need to make more realistic drawings of the subject,” she said, adding that her show piece, “The Wedding Band,” which shows a wedding ring surrounded by a wilting wreath of flowers, says something about life and death.

“For me, the technique is just a tool,” she said. “It's about life and the celebration of life and perfection of the circle. You see the circle of flowers fading, and going from alive to dead. I keep the background empty. It's maybe supposed to be an inspiration for thinking.”

Enderle, who was also featured in a VCAC show last fall, said the center has been a stroke of good fortune for her. “It's been lucky for me to have my first exhibition,” she said, adding that she has also met many artists through the center, and has expanded her social circle.

The exhibition includes 90 pieces from artists and more than $7,000 in awards are given to artists in various categories. The Academic Artists Association show runs through Aug. 10.

The next exhibition at the VCAC will be a Puppetry Exhibit, with an opening set for Sept. 8. For more information, visit

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