Blue Mountain Gallery
Graduate students in the M.F.A. program in Visual Arts at Western Connecticut State University will be exhibiting their thesis work at Blue Mountain Gallery June 17- July 5th. The exhibition is the capstone event in a two year period of intensive study highlighted by bi-weekly visits from nationally recognized visiting artists and field trips to major museums and galleries. The work in the Thesis exhibition is the student artists’ personal visual statements in their chosen concentration of painting or illustration.
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The painters include DeAnn Matheny, Kevin Dwyer, Carla Lindsey, Michel Belknap, Phil Lique and J.D. Richey. The illustrators are Anna Myers and Sarah Mahan.
DeAnn Matheny, who received a B.F.A. from the University of Tulsa, exhibited her sensitive studies of trees in a number of competitive exhibitions during the time she was at Western. Her work was chosen from among a nationwide pool by well-known artist John Walker for inclusion in a show at The Bowery Gallery in Chelsea. She was also included in the “Small Works Show” at Blue Mountain Gallery and the Soho 20 “Small works” show. In the summer of ’07 she attended the Chautauqua Institution School of Art, where Glen Goldberg and Stanley Lewis. She says of her work “When working I become connected to something I cannot name and my self disappears.”
A fellow University of Tulsa B.F.A. graduate J.D. Richey, heard about the program from M.F.A. Advisory Board member Ruth Miller, who was a visiting artist at his University. During his time at W.C.S.U. his work has gone through several stages from rural to urban landscapes to provocative groups of almost life size figures. He says, “Paint is merely a crude tool to communicate the visual experience of the subtleties of nature.” J.D’s work was chosen for the show at Bowery Gallery and was also included in the Blue Mountain and Soho 20’s galleries “Small Work” shows.
Illustrators Sarah Mahan and Anna Meyers relocated to go to W.C.S.U. Anna, a graduate of Bard College at Simons Rock, moved to Danbury from Massachusetts, She explains the origin of her mysterious illustrations “I sincerely believe I would never have learned how to read if I had not been drawn to the illustrations in children’s books. I strive to bring a multicultural approach to my illustrations because I feel it is important to show children that they should not be afraid of people because they are different from themselves. Although I have this serious purpose in mind, I still want to instill a sense of magic and wonder in my paintings.”
Sarah Mahan, who received a double degree in art and zoology from SUNY Oswego, is an active environmentalist. She spent the summer prior to her entry into the program rehabilitating baby seals for reentry in to the wild. She worked as an intern at the University’s branch of the Jane Goodall Foundation. Her haunting paintings of primates enliven the show along with her portraits of women leaders. Sarah is also working on an illustrated primate book for youth.
Painter Kevin Dwyer also attended the Chautauqua School of Art. Kevin has an undergraduate degree in Studio Art from St. Michael’s College in Vermont and has helped to pay for his studies with mural commissions. Of his powerful black and white work, he says, “In pursuit of finding truth and beauty, my work is an immediate reaction to what I’m seeing.”
Experimental painter Phil Lique has, a B.F.A. from the Paier school worked as a studio assistant to James Grashow, Max Toth and Eric Davis, as well as and installation assistant at Art Space in New Haven. He says his mixed media creations are informed by “Collage and sculpture reflections on nature and the animal kingdom, stages of construction and deconstruction, media sources, allowing a viewer to see themselves in the work.” Phil exhibited in the Citywide Open Studios at Art Space in New Haven in 2007 and 2008. His work was one of five of the 400 artists exhibiting to be chosen by Jeffrey Walkowiak, Director of the Sara Meltzer Gallery, to participate in Put Together, a show about concurrent and relative issues, now on exhibit at Art Space in New Haven through August 9th.
Carla Lindsey, a painting M.F.A. candidate, says of her mystical paintings of the woods “ I see my trees as people with different personalities and characteristics. The wooded areas in which they stand are captured with spirituality and emotion whatever is affecting my life is represented in these scenes. The Bible verses in the paintings also relate to these event.” Carla exhibited at Artwell in Torrington in 2007, and has been working on an upcoming PBS documentary on her great great grandfather, the highly respected Afro-American painter Ellis Ruley. Carla has a B.F.A. in painting from the Hartford School of Art at the University of Hartford. For the past academic year she has been teaching art to primary and secondary students at Escape to the Arts in Danbury.
Painter Michel Belknap has an AAS from Parsons and a B.F.A. from Tulane University. She says, “Light is illusive and magical. Painting is a balance between experience and expression, where it is possible for imagination to become real” Michel’s works are small, painterly and complex, poised between observation and abstraction. She continues to sell her work through a gallery in New Orleans.
Western Connecticut State University is located in Danbury, Connecticut. Faculty in painting includes Blue Mountain members Margaret Grimes and John Wallace, as well as Marjorie Portnow and Robert Alberetti. Abe Echevarria is the illustration faculty. The program also includes a number of highly recognized visiting artists. The M.F.A. exhibition opens Tuesday June 17th and will run through Saturday July 5th. There will be a reception for the artists Thursday June 19th from 5-8 pm.