Exhibit shows spring just around the corner

February 20, 2000

Spring Art exhibitBy BRUCE HAMILTON / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

The groundhog made his declaration, so spring will have to wait. But anxious art-lovers can see some views of warmer days in the Mansion House Art Center.

The Valley Art Association's latest exhibit, "Can Spring Be Far Away?" includes 31 paintings from the group's members. Each offers a peek at the next season with spring scenes and themes.

Flowers always herald winter's end, so they inhabit or decorate almost all the images in the show. Tulips, irises and crocuses bloom within their frames with an almost fertile warmth.


Several of the paintings use rich hues and heightened contrast to accent their warm colors with startling effect. In Karen Davison's "West Virginia Redbuds," two thick brown trunks stand on a cool, curved slope of greenish yellow.

Pale scarlet and rose-pink petals stand out in sweeping strokes against their boughs. In another of Davison's pieces, "Forsythia Fantasy," gold flowers festoon a stark white fence before gray clouds and the peak of a roof.

The black background of "Les Memoirs de Printemps" (Memories of Spring) offsets a riot of color. In Mary Alice Baumgardner's work, blue butterflies rise from a floral bouquet in thickly applied oils.

Horses grazing, the reflection of forest greenery in a stream and chickadees poised among petals are a few of the images that evoke spring for the artists. In one block print, soap bubbles rise from a toy wand in a blue and pink composition.

Like several of the paintings, Ami Plessinger's "Bee Rose" makes a flower its focus. But the reflecting circles of small water drops on the petals add key details that draw the eye away from its center.

While most of the scenes in the paintings show a season in full swing, a few approach it from the edge. "Closeness of Spring," by Lucy Ecker, depicts jagged icicles hanging from eaves. Purplish crocuses sprout from the snow below.

Robert Wantz's "Spring Watercolor" seems to show the last gasp of winter. Skeletal frames of bone-white trunks stand with evergreens and budding trees. A brook cuts through the horizontal composition and sunlight hints through a foggy horizon.

The Valley Arts Association has about 120 members in the Tri-State area, according to member Lonnie Jenkins.

"I think a lot of people don't realize how many good artists we have in this area who haven't been recognized," he said.

Located in City Park, the Georgian-style Mansion House Art Center is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. It is open 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. The exhibit will be on display through Feb. 29.

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