Exhibit aims to evoke romance, thoughts of spring

February 10, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

An exhibit that recently opened at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts highlights two symbols of romance, moonlight and roses, just in time for Valentine's Day.

"Moonlight and Roses" features 49 paintings and decorative pieces. The exhibit, which opened Feb. 2, will be on view through April 20, according to Assistant Curator Jennifer E. Smith.

There are paintings of vases with a sprawl of roses, while other artists focused on the intricacies of a single flower. The theme came from a 1925 ballad by Ben Black and Neil Moret, which begins: "Moonlight and roses bring wonderful mem'ries of you."

So, like the lyrics, the idea behind the exhibit is to evoke romance and make people think of springtime, Smith said.


"It's a good place to take a date," Smith said. "I like to joke that we should have done some chocolate paintings, but there aren't many of those around."

Most of the pieces in "Moonlight and Roses" are either oil or watercolor paintings. There are some decorative pieces, including plates and pitchers with roses painted on them.

Smith said exhibit highlights are "Bowl of Flowers," a watercolor painting by 19th-century artist John Lafarge, part of the museum's permanent collection, and Georges Jeannin's "Bouquet of Roses," which is on loan from a local collector.

Artistic approaches vary in the exhibit, with some artists taking cues from tonalism -- a style reminiscent of what would happen if impressionist Claude Monet used muted neutrals instead of the bright, light-filled colors he's known for.

Smith mentioned moonlit landscapes by early 20th-century tonalist painters Ralph Blakelock and Dwight Tryon, and contemporary artists Ski Holm, an artist and art instructor at the museum, and Hans Moller. These artists set out to capture the subtle beauty of night.

"They're not trying to be realistic. They're using landscape to capture a mood," Smith said.

If you go ...

WHAT: "Moonlight and Roses" exhibit at Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

WHEN: Today though Sunday, April 20. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, at City Park, Hagerstown

COST: Free

MORE: Call the museum, 301-739-5727 or go to

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