Gilmore fancies whimsical art

Published 10:06 pm Thursday, April 24, 2014

When it comes to her art, Nansemond River High School senior Ellen Gilmore isn’t interested in ruminating on the human condition.

“I tend to work in whimsical subject matter,” Gilmore said. “Stuff that wouldn’t happen in real life.”

Nansemond River High’s Ellen Gilmore, recipient of a Chesapeake Bay Art Association scholarship, feels right at home in the school’s art room.

Nansemond River High’s Ellen Gilmore, recipient of a Chesapeake Bay Art Association scholarship, feels right at home in the school’s art room.

The talented teen, recently selected by the Chesapeake Bay Art Association as a fifth-place scholarship winner, scoring $200 toward her college education, describes an adventurous approach to selecting the media she works in, too.


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“I experiment in different media,” Gilmore said, citing painting, fibers, printmaking, drawing, photography and sculpture.

Every school day, she travels to the The Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk for its visual arts program.

“I took a lot of classes outside of school, and then I joined the governor’s school, and that has really helped me a lot,” she said.

“I can’t begin to describe — I don’t think I would be as good … if I hadn’t gone to the Governor’s School. They have really professional staff, and they really support what you want to do.”

One of Gilmore’s teachers at the Governor’s School encouraged her and the other seniors studying there to apply for the association scholarship. “I think most of the winners were from the Governor’s School,” Gilmore said.

Scholarship applicants submit three of their best pieces to a panel of artist judges. The scholarships are paid by a fund named after association founding member John B. Tenney, who started it by auctioning one of his paintings.

Awards will be presented at Wednesday’s reception for the association’s Spring Art Show, which then continues at Hampton’s Peninsula Town Center, 1246 Merchant Lane, through May 8, from noon to 8 p.m. each day. Gilmore’s entries will be featured.

Closer to home, Gilmore’s art will also feature in her first solo exhibition, at Old Dominion University’s Tri-Cities Center, 1070 University Blvd., Portsmouth, from Saturday through the following Friday — except Sunday — during the 8 a.m.-to-6 p.m. opening hours.

An opening reception for the exhibition, titled “Shower Epiphanies,” takes place Friday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

“I have shown in other shows, but this is my first completely-myself show,” Gilmore said, adding she would have about 20 pieces.

The exhibition is a governor’s school requirement. “I’m one of the first of the year, so I can’t really compare mine to other people’s — so that’s good,” Gilmore explained.

Gilmore recently enrolled in Virginia Commonwealth University’s communication arts program, and says she’d like to find work creating characters for animated films.