East Hartford Art League starts new season with a ‘Pop’

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Thu., Oct. 3, 2013
Neil LeFebvre working on a painting at the Art League's September meeting.  Photos by Corey AmEnde.
Neil LeFebvre working on a painting at the Art League's September meeting. Photos by Corey AmEnde.

With a steady, but gentle hand, Neil LeFebvre gradually brings his painting to life. The resourceful artist from West Hartford dips his brush into the top of a plastic muffin container, soaks up some more green paint and returns back to the canvas. The red sign with white lettering that reads, “Western Motel,” is clearly visible, and with each brush stroke the rest of the painting emerges.

“I’m painting a cactus, but I’m also painting a sign, too,” said LeFebvre. “I like old motels. I’ll definitely check them out before I stay in them.”

LeFebvre gave a live demonstration of his “Western Motel” work in progress and displayed a number of finished pop-art paintings on Sunday, Sept. 29, at the East Hartford Art League’s kickoff event to its 2013-2014 season. The East Hartford Art League is sponsored by the Fine Arts Commission and has been a fixture of the community since 1958 – the same time period from which LeFebvre draws inspiration for his paintings.

The Art League has roughly 60 members, about half of whom are active.  Membership is free and open to all ages. The monthly meetings feature local artists who give live demonstrations.

“We like the fact that people can come in from all walks of life and just sit and get lessons on the type of art they like. whether it’s clay, poetry, tapestry, oils, acrylics, water color, caricature – we have all different types,” said Holly Reed, president of the Art League. “We try to get all kinds of visual artists to do a presentation.”

Even though the September meeting was held on a Sunday, Reed said the group has decided to move its meetings to Tuesday evenings in hopes of boosting attendance. There is also a membership drive and the group is looking at ways to engage younger artists to help the long-term sustainability of the organization.

“We don’t want to become off on a shelf somewhere,” said Reed. “We want to be part of the Main Street of East Hartford. We want to keep our name out there.”

The signature event of the year for the Art League is the May Spring Fest, which features the “purchase award.” Reed said anywhere from 100 to 200 paintings are entered into the show that features a $1,000 prize to the artist whose painting is purchased by the town for display at the library.

“My mom won it in 2000," Reed said. "She has a painting of daisies and it’s real important to me. It’s kind of sentimental when I see it up there on the library walls.”

The winning paintings for the purchase award also help preserve the art history within the town. “We have over 50 years of winners in our town library, which is really important because it gives a history of our art league,” added Reed. Although not a painter herself - she’s admittedly more of a writer - Reed has a deep appreciation for art in general.

“I love art,” said Reed.  “I love the Spring Fest when we’re all out by the library lawn and there’s just people strolling through enjoying the art, and they come up to me and say, 'It’s beautiful,'” said Reed.  “It’s nice to have people enjoying art.”

For more information on the art league, visit the website www.Easthartfordartleague.org or contact Holly Reed at 860-528-2210.

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