‘It means everything’

Published 10:24 pm Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Gene Mandrick, pictured with his painting “Autumn Path,” is the featured artist and honorary chairman of the 29th Annual Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Art Show and Sale, which runs Jan. 24 through Feb. 1.

Gene Mandrick, pictured with his painting “Autumn Path,” is the featured artist and honorary chairman of the 29th Annual Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Art Show and Sale, which runs Jan. 24 through Feb. 1.

Artist honored by school’s nod

The featured artist at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s 29th Annual Art Show and Sale described the honor as probably the highlight of his 20-year career before the easel.

Gene Mandrick, 77, who attended a luncheon in his honor at the school Tuesday with wife Sandy, said it’s his first-ever such honor.

“It means everything,” he said. “I’m flabbergasted that they picked me. It’s probably the highlight of my career.”

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The Norfolk-based artist paints a wide range of subjects with oils, loosely describing his evocative, palette knife-heavy work as impressionism.

He plans to bring 30 or 40 paintings to the show, including landscapes and nautical scenes.

Opening Jan. 24 and running through Feb. 1, the show and sale benefits the school’s arts program. It also gives teachers the chance to incorporate the art and displays into their curriculum.

“It goes toward supporting all the arts, and I just really think that’s important,” said Crystal Jackson, co-chairman of the event.

More than 175 artists will show a wide variety work at this year’s show and sale, from paintings to multimedia. Prices will range from $10 — giving students a chance to make some purchases — to $7,000.

Melissa Hlinovsky, the school’s annual fund coordinator, said the event usually generates about $120,000, with net proceeds of about $50,000 benefiting the school.

According to Hlinovsky, it owes its success in large part to hundreds of volunteers and sponsors. The event normally attracts about 150 sponsors, she said, with a goal this year of 160.

“It’s great not only for the school, but for the artists and the community as well,” Hlinovsky said.

Following college, Mandrick served five years in the Navy. After that, he started a 30-year career as a mechanical engineer.

Born in Pennsylvania, raised in Ohio, he came to Hampton Roads after marrying a Norfolk native.

Mandrick said his interest in art came later in life. After retiring from his career, he studied under Charles Kello and other local art instructors. But he said he was always eager to break away and develop his own style.

That style is described as lavish, with paint applied to the canvas thickly. Influenced by the Wyeths — an American family with multiple generations of artists — as well as John Singer Sargent, Mandrick attempts to create a snapshot of a feeling or a mood.

He said he is not influenced by his career as an engineer. “I really didn’t enjoy it, frankly,” he said. “It was a good job — a good-paying job.”

Sandy Mandrick said her husband’s appointment as featured artist and honorary chairman for the NSA show and sale suits their move away from attending outdoor shows like the Boardwalk Art Show in Virginia Beach.

They’ve divested themselves of the tent and vehicle they used for those shows, she said, a move that getting older precipitated.

“It’s a lovely honor at this stage,” Gene Mandrick said of his selection by NSA.

The show and sale takes place in the Lower School building. The public is welcome, with free admission and parking.

Folks are invited to an opening reception from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 24, where they can talk with the artists and enjoy refreshments and entertainment. A second reception will be held the next day, from 1 to 4 p.m., for parents of alumni.

The show and sale continues from Monday through Friday, Jan. 26-30, between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

A reception for grandparents will be held on Jan. 28 from 9 a.m. to noon, and kids’ days are on Jan. 31, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Feb. 1, from 1 to 4 p.m.

The show and sale as well as all receptions and both kids’ days are free and open to the public.