Artists share creative process at Verona gallery

| Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, 9:53 p.m.

For Joe Saber, a painting is more than a picture on canvas. It's an extension of the artist.

“A painting becomes part of you,” the Hampton resident says.

“Once you start painting, it becomes just sort of a unique experience.”

This month, the unique experience of Saber and three other painters will be extended to the public via Verona's Boulevard Gallery.

Through Feb. 23, the gallery at 736 Allegheny River Blvd. will feature the paintings of four artists: Saber, Anne Ducanis, Mary Ann Pishcke and C.M. Wencel. Jewelry from designer Selma Andrews will be on display, as well.

Verona resident Rhoda Worf, who owns the gallery with her husband, Donald, feels much the same as Saber does.

“For us, each month is exciting and different. We feature a new artist or artists with new ideas, different mediums and creative approaches to displaying their work,” she says. “It is amazing to see life through the eyes of an artist.”

Of this month's artists, the work of Saber and Ducanis will feature exclusively watercolor pieces. Pischke's works are done in watercolor and acrylic, and Wencel's will feature acrylic and oil paintings.

Be it Pischke's vibrant backyard, Wencel's boldly painted horses, Saber's autumnal landscape or the verdant shades at Ducanis' garden gate, the works share a combination of boldness and honesty that draws in the viewer.

From the viewpoint of Saber, who took up art in earnest after retiring in 2006, to be successful takes more than talent.

“Inspiration, imagination, courage — all those things are involved,” he says. “I think somebody with perseverance, courage, faith in themselves and confidence, they can accomplish more than they think they can. I think everybody has that capability if they apply it.”

He also notes the importance of the right subject.

“I paint (a subject) because that's what I like to paint,” he says.

“It's a matter of looking at something and conveying its appeal to someone else, as well.”

His work varies in theme and scope. Just to give a glimpse of some of Saber's work being shown at the gallery: a cat drinking from a goldfish pond, a still life of apples and his grandson playing a guitar.

Among myriad inspirations that can draw Saber to a subject are shape and color. He considers himself a realistic painter, but adds that there's always an abstract angle to a painting or drawing.

“You're painting shapes and actually symbols,” he says. “You're painting something that somebody looks at and says, ‘That's a tree', but it's not really a detail of a tree. It's a symbol of a tree.”

For Worf, such insight is likely a welcome one, as she and her husband opened the gallery with the intent of enriching the area's quality of life and promoting cultural activity and exchange.

“The Boulevard Gallery is giving the opportunity to local artists to showcase their work,” she says. “There are not many galleries that offer free space for artists to display their work. We feel that our gallery gives them that opportunity.”

“Art is inspirational. It can take you to different worlds or places you may have visited in your past. Through art and photography, you can gain a deeper appreciation for nature and life around us.”

Julie Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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