Local show a preview of NYC show

January 18, 2009|By CHRIS COPLEY

Eileen Berger stands in her gallery surrounded by art. Art is hung chock-a-block on walls, leaning against chairs, standing in bins, piled on a counter.

"Things have been coming in for weeks," Berger said with a big grin.

She indicates a series of brightly colored, impressionistic paintings on the counter.

"These are by Ama B., a new artist we're working with from Ghana," Berger said. "And these pencil drawings are by Michael C. Gibson. He's Canadian. You can see they're very realistic. We have to tell people 'No, this is not a photograph.'"

More than a dozen artists will have work in "New Year, New Visions," the annual show that opens this weekend at Berger's gallery, Just Lookin', on Summit Avenue in Hagerstown.

Berger said "New Year, New Visions" is a prelude to the Black Fine Art Show in New York.

"We invite our clients from Baltimore and Washington - and Hagerstown - here for two weeks," she said. "Then we take all this to New York."


Some of the artists on display have worked with Berger before. "New Year, New Visions" features paintings by Charly Palmer, three-dimensional quilts by Carolyn Crump and collages by Evita Tezeno.

But Berger has several first-time artists this year. Among them are Najee Dorsey, who uses painted paper, magazine cutouts and fabric swatches to make collages. "His style of collage is so cool," she said.

Berger said 2008 was a tumultuous year for black artists. Among the trends: the collapsing economy, the presidential election, and the continuing trend of customers buying less-expensive gicles - digitally-printed copies - instead of original art.

At least one of Berger's artists, Palmer, has produced work in honor of the election of Barack Obama, the first black American elected president of the United States.

"All our artists suffered this year with the economy," she said. "But they're thrilled (with Obama)."

"The problem with Charly is he's our best-selling artist," Berger said. "I can't keep his work in the gallery."

Just Lookin' gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

If you go ...

WHAT: New Year, New Visions - new artwork by black artists

WHEN: Opening reception is noon to 6 p.m. today

WHERE: Just Lookin' Gallery, 40 Summit Ave., Hagerstown

COST: Free and open to the public.

CONTACT: Call 301-714-2278 or 800-717-4278; or go to

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