New exhibit for local group at Suffolk Art Gallery

Published 11:46 pm Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Carol Whitaker loves the camaraderie that comes with being a part of the Elizabeth River Artists and how it has impacted her works.

Now, the creations from the 21 members of the juried art membership group will be on display through Jan. 21 as part of a new winter exhibit at the Suffolk Art Gallery. It’s a chance, she said, for people to see what she described as stellar art from the group.

“A lot of things I haven’t seen, so that’s surprising,” Whitaker said while attending the opening reception Dec. 9. “You’re going, ‘Wow, that’s just gorgeous. I honestly think this is first-class art.”

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The group meets Tuesdays at the art gallery to paint and socialize, and they also hold lectures and workshops while providing scholarships for aspiring artists. Their exhibit includes up to four works from each member, representing a variety of mediums and themes.

“We are so respectful of each other’s art,” Whitaker said, “and we appreciate what anybody does, and we can express that to each other.”

Karen Sallaz, the outgoing president of the group, said that while members have exhibited separately in different shows, this is the first time there has been an exhibit featuring all of its members.

None of the art featured in this exhibit, which came at the invitation of the Suffolk Art Gallery, has been seen anywhere else, and many of them Sallaz watched as they were painted, covering everything from landscapes, portrait arts, animals, abstracts and more. Three of the four works Sallaz has in the show are palette-knife work.

“With the ability to be able to get together as a group, especially with as limited as we were able to do last year, this is so rewarding,” Sallaz said. “Our friends and family are here with us, and the artists, and I’m really glad that we could do this and we got invited to do it.”

And much of the work on display was grouped in themes, and that’s thanks to Angela Reavis, the city’s cultural arts coordinator, who laid out the exhibit.

“Sometimes you can put it up (with) all of the artists together,” Reavis said, “I more made themes per wall.”

The exhibit has an animal section, an area with more traditional still lifes with flowers and birds, seascapes, more traditional landscapes broken up by seasons, then an area with grand landscapes.

Reavis received the art for the exhibit Dec. 6 and had it all up on the walls two days later, and then spent the day of the exhibit’s opening creating the labels for each work.

Sallaz said she appreciated the care in which the works of the group’s artists are displayed, and it gives the public a chance to see professional-caliber works of art shown with proper care and respect.

“We’d just like people to come and see it,” Sallaz said. “There are very often people who might not have another chance to be exposed to original artwork, and that’s very important. If you don’t get to the big museums, if you can’t get to the Chrysler (Museum of Art), this type of exhibit gives you an ability to be able to see original artwork hanging on the wall. And that’s special. It’s different than just a print.”

Want to go?

The winter exhibit of the Elizabeth River Artists at the Suffolk Art Gallery will continue through Jan. 21. The gallery, at 118 Bosley Ave. in downtown Suffolk, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. All exhibits are free and open to the public. For more information, call the Suffolk Art Gallery at 757-514-7284, Suffolk Parks and Recreation at 757-514-7250 or visit www.suffolkva.us/suffolkartgallery. For more information about the Elizabeth River Artists, people can visit the art gallery from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays to speak with current members.