Scene & Heard

February art scene: Check every corner for treasures

SPRINGFIELD — The Island Park Gallery at Willamalane’s Adult Activity Center returned to the art walk in February with a reception that included complimentary refreshments, live piano music by Chuck Dinsfriend, shuttle service to and from downtown, and featured local artist Ellen Gabehart. Gabehart is a local artist who originally lived and trained in New York City. She has taught at elementary schools and currently teaches adult classes at Willamalane. Anyone who has worked with Gabehart as an educator knows her for her patience, friendly smile, and encouragement toward her students.

Many of the paintings in this exhibit feature people interacting with their environment and expressing their artform. These are watercolors that express a spiritual connection to the beauty of the world we interact with. Says Gabehart about her art: “I become emotionally involved with my subjects and seek to extract and record its spiritual nature through color, design, and movement. For me, where there is life, there is art; where there is art, there is life.”

“Flower Girl,” watercolor by Ellen Gabehart at Island Park Gallery. 

This month, the City Hall Gallery treated art enthusiasts with two exhibits. The first was a wall filled with art entries for the Springfield Public Library 2023 Bookmark Contest. There were a total of 16 winners in multiple age brackets. The skills of these students and level of interest in the contest was incredible. What a great way to promote the arts and reading.

The second exhibit in the City Hall Gallery was Heather L. Halpern’s drawings, prints and mixed media pieces. Oftentimes, artists focus on a particular theme when they have a solo show like landscapes, animals, or portraits. The cohesive element that worked together to create a theme in Halpern’s show was her use of light and shadow, vivid contrast, and monochromatic color schemes. Her skill is impressive, and it is worthwhile stopping in to see the show. 

Charlene Eckman’s “Birch Trees” at the EAC.

The Academy of Arts and Academics displayed a variety of impressive student art and hosted free classes as part of their Family Night in conjunction with the art walk. Classes included The Art of Haiku by Scott Crowell, Valentine Painting with Nissie Ellison and painting with Alejandro Sarmiento.

Featured members at the Emerald Art Center during February are Alison Hennes, Edward Teague and Rayne Pelham. Hennes primarily uses ink, watercolor pencils, and watercolors to represent nature scenes and animals. Teague’s exhibit “Frozen Roses” features photographs of roses after the first frost occurs when roses transform into frozen beauties.

Pelham’s exhibit “Native In Oregon” displays beadwork with painted acrylic backgrounds. Pelham is a retired educator and native to the Pacific Northwest. Many of her pieces are inspired by her heritage as a descendent from the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and the White Earth Band of Chippewa.

Says Pelham: “These works are almost entirely done by hand-stitching beads that are about a millimeter in width to canvas! Hours of time and attention go into every piece to create marvelously detailed works of art!”

“Frozen Rose,” photography by Edward Teague at the Emerald Art Center.

The January PhotoZone show at EAC has been extended and supplemented with additional pieces. 

As always, there were many other talented artists in the show at EAC displaying new works. Every corner of the gallery holds wonders, like Craig Fentiman’s “Yellow Swallowtail Butterfly” and Shirley Reade’s “A Daisy Afternoon,” waiting to be found in a nook behind the stairs. Even the smallest art can be breathtaking, like Jo Dunnick’s “Sunrise Vista.” The seeming simplicity of Charlene Eckman’s “Birch Trees” are rendered with such attention to color, contrast, texture, and movement, that they create a striking piece where it is located in the back of the gallery. Don’t miss breathtaking photographs of nature by Mark Schoepke, Randy Jordan, and others. 

This month’s exhibit theme of “Music” is captured well by so many pieces, but none more than Kevin Reilly’s “Out of Key.” The texture of antique piano keys, striking angles, contrast, and balance of light and shadow create a piece worthy of winning an award. But will he win the prize for this show? It is up to the audience to decide on the People’s Choice Award.

Other participants of the art walk included the new exhibit “Working Springfield” at the Springfield History Museum, Taffy Seifert at Iris Wine Bar, Hearts for Hospice, The Pedaler Bar and Restaurant, and The Festival Boutique.



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