Brenau University launches President’s Summer Arts Series featuring work by four Gainesville painters
The special exhibition runs May 9 through May 31 with a special opening night reception for the artists
A mix of styles and life experiences come together in a new art exhibit opening this month when Brenau University kicks off the inaugural exhibition in its new “President’s Summer Arts Series” running May 9-31 on the Gainesville campus..
Paintings by artists Ann Alexander, Rosemary Dodd, Joyce Hornor and Alice Paris will be on display starting Wednesday, May 9. The exhibit will be in the Sellars Gallery at the Simmons Visual Arts Center, 200 Boulevard, Gainesville. Brenau University President Ed Schrader will host an opening reception for the artists at 6 p.m. May 9. The reception and the show, which runs through May 31, are free and open to the public.
“Brenau has a rich tradition in the arts primarily because of the support for the arts by the Gainesville community,” Schrader said. “And one of the main reasons for this support is Gainesville’s wealth of local artistic talent. In this exhibition we will showcase some of our Gainesville treasures, art and artist.”
The four artists are Gainesville residents and all bring a lifetime of experiences to their work. Three of the artists – Alexander, Hornor and Paris– discovered their talent after their children left for college, while Dodd began drawing at age 3 and never stopped. All four women, however, have extensive training in both foundation and technique, and each brings a unique view of life, love and North Georgia living to the gallery’s walls.
Ann Alexander discovered her talent while on an outing with friends. Her children were grown and off to college, and she simply thought a painting class would be fun.
Today, after years of honing her skills and developing her own distinct, realistic style, her oil paintings can be found at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center and Watson Gallery in Atlanta, along with juried art shows across the country. She’s chosen a variety of paintings of flowers for the Summer Arts Series show. Three of the paintings in the show are new, featuring cherry blossoms, dogwood flowers or magnolias in Oriental-themed containers.
“I was inspired by spring,” she said. “It’s spring and the flowers are blooming.”
It’s hard to miss selections by Rosemary Dodd, the widow of Ed Dodd, the legendary newspaper cartoonist known for the “Mark Trail” comics serial. Rosemary Dodd, however, creates large-scale, multi-canvas pieces that draw from different senses – not just what you see. Her “Wind in My Face,” a recent creation, is something she’s wanted to paint for years but never knew how to start.
One day, after writing the word “wind” on a piece of paper, she realized its double meaning – the action you take to wind a clock. She then began constructing the piece, incorporating clock parts and pieces of paper containing poems and songs about wind. Another piece in the exhibit, a family portrait, combines bright yellows and reds with shiny jewels. The jewels speak to the family’s jewelry-making past, while the colors are distinctly Dodd.
Joyce Hornor waited until after college to start studying painting, taking her first watercolor classes when she moved to Gainesville 31 years ago. She later migrated to oils, and after studying with acclaimed painter Roseta Santiago in New Mexico, Hornor realized she was happiest when creating still life works on a signature black background, highlighted with a pinpoint of light. “I’m intrigued at how the pinpoint of light can play off an object,” she said.
Three of Hornor’s paintings in the show depict another of her passions: puppets. And Hornor’s images of bird nests challenge her to use layers of paint to depict light playing off the twigs. “You really have to make sure the light is correct,” she says of creating the illusion in oil paint.
Like Alexander and Hornor, Alice Paris discovered her talent later in life, after the kids had left for college. Realizing her passion, she, like her contemporaries, took years of lessons in the foundations and techniques of painting. While she considers painting more of a hobby – sometimes, she’ll go months without touching a paint brush – she’s still serious about her passion, balancing it with volunteer work around Gainesville.
She selected a variety of pieces for the Summer Arts Series show, including a hunting scene and her grandchildren playing on the beach.
“I never know what I’m going to paint,” Paris said. “It just depends on what’s going on.”
Brenau’s three Gainesville art galleries usually are “dark” during the summer, but Schrader said he developed the series as a means of making the galleries more active community assets especially during the summer months.
Gallery hours for the exhibition will be Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also, the exhibition will be open on Saturday, May 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the 4th Annual Brenau Barbecue Championship and auto show on the historic campus.
Ann Alexander got a late start to painting.
She first picked up a paintbrush after her children left the nest for college, simply as an outing with friends. That fateful excursion led her to a passion she never knew existed, studying and learning from the ground up about grinding paints, stretching canvases and mastering techniques with light and color.
“Painting fulfills me in a way I have not before experienced,” says Alexander, who today paints alongside a dozen others as part of the Blue Angel Studio in Gainesville. “I have been, and I think I always will be, inspired by beauty. Flowers are a favorite subject of mine; I’m continually surprised by how things and events from my past influence me.”
Alexander’s oil paintings feature still life scenes, landscapes and portraits. Her realistic style plays with light and color, offering the glint of the sun on a shiny piece of fruit or the reflection of a bird over the water. As a lifelong resident of North Georgia, many local scenes find their way into her paintings, reflecting the warm red clay soil or the clear blue skies over the mountains.
Her work has been featured in many local, regional and national juried shows, and is regularly available at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville and at Watson Gallery in Atlanta.
“In the South, each season brings a different kind of excitement, whether the painting is en plein air or in the studio, landscape, still life or portrait, it is a constant challenge to paint the moment on canvas,” she says. “The piece of work must mean something to me.”
Hopefully, the viewer feels the same reaction. “Success is when a painting connects with someone else on a similar level; it is my hope to produce a painting that inspires me and the viewer in the same way.”
Looking at one of Rosemary Dodd’s paintings requires several senses.
They are more than vibrant colors intertwined with objects or scraps of paper. Rather, her work is inspired by the sounds, smells and feel of the world around her.
An artist since she was old enough to pick up a crayon, Dodd’s pieces incorporate bright reds and yellows in both small and large formats. Often, one piece spans multiple canvases, with inspiration coming from music, the earth, or her connection with God. But each has passion and humor, drawing from a life that connected her to Ed Dodd, her late husband and creator of the Mark Trail comic, along with raising four children and now enjoying four grandchildren.
An artist with the Blue Angel Studio in Gainesville, Dodd recently put the finishing touches on a new piece for the exhibition, “Wind in my Face.” The inspiration came years ago, after she got a look at an electricity-generating wind turbine. For years, she wanted to create a piece that evoked the giant white propellers slicing through the air. But it wasn’t until recently, while writing “wind” on a piece of paper, did inspiration strike.
“And that’s why I needed to have clock parts,” says the Gainesville artist of the large-scale, multi-canvas piece, which also includes parts of poems and songs about wind, and pieces of the Mutts comic strip, signed by her friend Patrick McDonnell.
Another piece, a family portrait, shows a mother and her daughters in bright jewels against a yellow background. It’s not a typical color scheme for the family, but that’s the judgment call you make when painting. It’s not about what’s right or wrong, but more about being inspired to create a piece that speaks to her.
“I’m not out of the box,” she says. “I just don’t know what the box looks like.”
Art is one of many ways Alice Paris gives back to her community. And while she admits it’s more of a hobby than for the other artists showing with her, she’s embraced it with enthusiasm and love like she has for so many of her other endeavors.
Paris creates a variety of subjects out of oils — there are animals, portraits, landscapes and still life paintings in her collection. She’s been painting for about 15 years, taking it up after her two children went off to college, and now blends her brushstrokes with volunteer work with organizations such as the Quinlan Visual Arts Center, The Bascom arts center in Highlands, N.C., the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, First United Methodist Church of Gainesville and the Medical Center Auxiliary at Northeast Georgia medical Center. A longtime resident of Gainesville, she also spends time with her five grandchildren, all of whom live within a short drive.
As a result, Paris says painting can sometimes get put on the back burner.
“Most of my paintings go to family and friends,” she says. “I’m not in the studio — all of these others have studios, but I don’t have one. I’m serious, but painting is a hobby for me. I may go all summer and not pick up a brush.”
Paris also likes to paint a variety of subjects. She jokes that she might be a better artist if she focused on one subject, but her mixture of colors and the way the light falls on her subjects tells otherwise. Trained in the craft of painting by Gainesville artist Lydia Banks McCrary, Paris started with skills such as grinding and mixing colors and stretching a canvas.
Learning the basics “gives you an appreciation for everything,” she says. “It’s fun to be creative when you’re painting, to try different things.”
Joyce Hornor loves painting, and is fascinated by puppets.
When the two meet on canvas, the results are sharp still-life paintings unique in their lighting and sense of place. The marionettes sit, highlighted by a pinpoint of light, waiting for their chance to tell their story for an audience.
Hornor began painting when she moved to Gainesville 31 years ago, taking a few watercolor classes and eventually moving to oils. Hornor began classes in abstract oil painting about a dozen years ago, and then tried en plein air.
Then, enamored by Roseta Santiago’s acclaimed still life painting and portraits, Hornor took intensive one-on-one workshops at Santiago’s Santa Fe, N.M., studio. The result of the training, Hornor says, is a style defined by a subject’s lighting, and layering paint to create specific highlights in the scene.
“She’s the one who has inspired my style,” Hornor says of Santiago. “I’m intrigued by how the pinpoint of light can play off an object.”
Her pieces, such as the images of puppets included in the Summer Arts Series, are typically set on her signature dark background. Compared with other artists featured in the show, Hornor also is unique in her choice of subjects. She sticks with still life paintings, she says. Specifically, she paints puppets, which she collects, as well as bird nests and baskets, which pose a particular challenge that inspires her.
With bird nests, Hornor creates the effect of light through the twigs by using thin layers of paint. It’s the same idea behind a painting of a basket, included in the exhibition, where the sun filters through its reeds. “To get all those branches in those,” she says, “you have to make sure the light is correct.”