This July I will take part of a three-artist exhibit organized by Joy Bridy in Charles Town, WV’s Fire Hall Gallery. A series of 9 Paintings called An Artist on An Animal Farm will be my contribution. The title of the show is “Farm to Table” and the guiding principle is connection to the land through food, work and more. The corner stone of my artwork is the beautiful farm where I live. The cattle, sheep, chickens and hogs that graze this land not only nourish me and my family, but also hundreds of customers that shop with us at farmers’ markets each weekend. Through my kitchen I am able to process these ingredients into fresh pasta, soups and much more in a way that incorporates my Italian heritage. As an artist, I use my paintings to explore this relationship to the land. It’s a complex work in progress that challenges me every day to express what often lies hidden in my heart. I feel privileged to have a talent that allows me to inhabit this space, even when it leaves me vulnerable.
My most recent painting, Hidden Plumbing will not be part of the Fire Hall show, but it does provides a unique perspective on the process involved in creating the series An Artist on An Animal Farm. Although the work of painting is very different than traditional “farm labor”, it allows me to keep living an authentic life on this farm. Making a living from the land is a physical process that would only leave me drained without the synthesis that comes from making art. In Hidden Plumbing, my totem animal, Bunny, is resuscitating an oversized heart in a large claw foot tub. The plumbing is not actually hidden. Its connection to the world beyond the canvas, the land that surrounds Bunny, is suggested by pipes that burst out of the right bottom corner. The puddle under the tub is evidence of the effort that Bunny has exerted with her plunger in working with this most necessary muscle. In the distance lies a female figure. Blue like the mountains that ring my actual existence, she reminds me that the Earth is just as alive as what inhabits her fields. All life needs spiritual tending. This is my work as a painter.
Below are Joy Bridy’s words about her show in July. Read all about it and join us for the opening on July 16 from 5-7pm at the Fire Hall Gallery.
Jefferson Arts Council (JAC) is excited to announce “Farm To Table: Farms, Tables, and Inspirations”, at Charles Town’s Fire Hall Gallery, July 1-26, 2016. There will be a reception on July 16, from 5-7 pm, with catering by Real Good Food and a chance to meet the artists.
“Food is not the only thing that we get from farms in Jefferson County,” says gallery coordinator, Joy Bridy. “Our identity is deeply rooted in the land around us, and the farm as inspiration and is strong for working artists. Each artist in this exhibit is exploring their own roots to Farm and Table, whether it is imagery of living farmland, the tasks of farm life, the details of flora and fauna, or using natural materials in the process.”
Mark Muse, photographer, uses his camera to explore special places, many of them the fields and farms of Jefferson County. While he may be best known for exquisite views of West Virginia’s unique forests and hollows, his portraits of farms, trees and fields bring us closer to knowing our own place. He will have images of local farmland in this exhibit, as well as a few still life images of our local produce.
Muse says, “I never photograph barns. Except for when I do… about every five years or so. This particular barn, typical of large bank barns, has beautiful lines and the light was just right.”
Nancy Polo, the woman behind Smith Meadows Kitchen, paints life on a mythical, delightful farm through the imaginative and loving eyes of Bunny, her totem animal. From making pasta to tending chickens, Bunny sifts through mundane moments for truth and beauty that often startle her. Her set of 9 paintings of Bunny’s farm life will be in view in their entirety, for the first time.
“The families who buy our food often visit our farm. ‘What does the cow say’ is the question I hear many adults ask their children. They not only get to hear what the cow says, but they also connect more deeply with what nourishes them. As an artist living on this farm, I am fascinated by other questions that might arise in the imagination of adults and children on their journey,” says Polo.
Lisa Kovatch makes folksy, earthenware pottery in her tiny studio and garden nestled on a hill in Harpers Ferry, WV. Her work captures the nature around her, both flora and fauna, on the surface of her mugs, plates, platters and serving pieces.
“There’s a long-time, historical connection between potters and growers,” says Kovatch. “Today, as a maker, I enjoy food & its presentation. In looking for visual inspiration for my work for ‘Farm to Table’, I share my experience as a thwarted vegetable gardener. The imagery on these pots honors garden ‘rascals’ — the critters that cause me to marvel at their ingenuity, for they often enjoy the fruits of my labor before I ever even get the chance to harvest. Raccoon, Eastern Cottontail, Grackle, White-tailed deer, you’re cute, but I’m watching you!”
Tim Wohleber makes rustic twig furniture under the name of Arcadian Furnishings. He gathers rhododendron and iron wood from his family’s property in central WV, bringing it back to his studio and home to create quirky twig tables and chairs, beds and cabinets.
“Farm to Table is an expression of community,” says Wohleber. “It takes many farmers, makers, cooks and eaters to create the community. The groundedness of a meal in which the food, dishes, table, and conversation are cultivated from local talents is the essence of simple pleasure.”
Mark Muse’s photography can be seen on his blog, markmusephotographs.com/wordpress, and his work is often seen at the Bridge Gallery in Shepherdstown.
Nancy Polo’s work can be seen online at nancypolo.com, or by visiting her studio and gallery at Smith Field Farm. She can also be spotted wearing her apron at Farmers Markets in the Washington DC region.
Lisa Kovatch’s work can be found in her studio in Harpers Ferry, at lkpottery.com, at Tamarack: the Best of WV, regional craft shows, and during the Over the Mountain Studio Tour in November.
Tim Wohleber’s work can be found at arcadianfurnishings.com, at the Charles Town Farmers Market on the second Saturday of each month, and during the Over the Mountain Studio Tour in November.
The Fire Hall Gallery is located in Downtown Charles Town, inside the Visitor’s Center at 108 N. George St. The Gallery is shared with the Washington Street Artists’ Cooperative, and open seven days a week, 10am-5pm.
Joy Bridy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Muse: email@example.com
Nancy Polo: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Kovatch: email@example.com
Tim Wohleber: firstname.lastname@example.org