Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Open House at Sweetwater

Sweetwater Center for the Arts is a little further down Ohio River Boulevard than Bellevue, but the drive is well worth the fifteen minute investment. Located in the old Sewickley Post Office, the center seeks to stimulate broad-based interest in and support for those who create and appreciate the arts of all cultures. The recent open house does that very well exemplifying the center’s dual mission of education and exhibition.
The exhibition portion of the evening, featured in the gallery’s balcony, combined student work with that of their instructors. Some of those same instructors were demonstrating their technique on the large, open ground floor. Visitors could preview and enroll in classes taught by such well-known artists as Joyce Perry (oil), Ron Thurston (watercolor) and Celena Yussen (anime.) Brandon Jennings, who teaches cartooning (a perennial favorite), created on-the-spot caricatures and Kathy Shomo conducted a mini-class in beading. The center’s lower level (the location of several studios) featured animal art with Cindy Shaffer and ceramics with Megan Shane and Charlotte Tolliver.

The exhibition certainly provides a boost of confidence to the budding artist who get to see their work side-by-side with that of their instructors. But it is also a testament to the quality of that instruction—the students proudly hold their own in the gallery space. Catherine Brown’s untitled oil adventurously ventures into the realm of non-objective painting, a genre usually reserved for the most sophisticated artists. “Village Street” by Joseph C. Cirelli is an imaginative little landscape with bright clean color and a strong sense of compositional movement. Mayota Hill’s “Simply Fun and Fancy Free” is a fiber/mixed media piece that incorporates a variety of whimsical materials and techniques. Its title is most apropos.

Throughout the evening the entertainment was provided by Shelly Long (flute) and Jeffery Ellsworth (guitar), each of who teach their respective instruments at Sweetwater. There are many other offerings–far too many to recount. Check out the complete schedule, as well as future activities at www.sweetwatercenter.com.

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