East Suburban Art League marks 35th anniversary of annual member show

Patrick Varine
| Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

East Suburban Art League Vice President Linda Galati appreciates all types of art. But when it comes to buying art for her home, or painting one of her own works, only watercolor will do.

“I can't get excited about anything else,” Galati said. “It seems to have infinite possibilities.”

The possibilities of watercolor and other artistic media will be on display Aug. 16 through Sept. 5, as the art league, or ESAL, hosts its annual members' show at Community College of Allegheny County's Boyce Campus. This year will mark the show's 35th anniversary.

Galati, who has organized it the past two years, said the show continues to surprise her.

“People are often experimenting with things,” Galati said. “I remember being really amazed at the color and art in one particular painting, then finding out that the artist had used colored inks instead of watercolor or some other medium.”

Galati recently met an artist who works with fabric.

“She just does so many different kinds of things,” Galati said. “The different ways people are artistic always excites me.”

Fellow watercolor artist Barbara Jewell, 71, of Murrysville, said she enjoys seeing the work of fellow ESAL members.

“We see each other at meetings and talk about what we're doing,” Jewell said. “But this yearly show gives us an opportunity to show what we've been working on and what we're most proud of.”

Jewell, a 10-year ESAL member who began to get serious about painting in the early 2000s, said she likes the challenge it presents.

“(Watercolors are) extremely versatile,” she said. “You can achieve a lot of different looks, from very loose to very controlled.”

Arlene Holtz, 66, of Penn Hills joined ESAL only a year ago and works mainly with acrylic paints.

“(With acrylics), there's an unlimited number of colors, it's quick to dry and layer, which I do a lot, and it's easy to clean up,” said Holtz, who will display two unique portraits at the show.

“They're done in somewhat unique colors,” she said. “I was experimenting with different colors in painting faces. One is based on a vintage photograph I found, and the other is based on a photo of someone I know, which was taken a while ago.”

Holtz said that as someone who often works alone in her studio, joining with ESAL was a way to branch out and meet other local artists.

Plum pastel and oil artist Karen Ferrick said she focuses on “seeing beauty and design in the everyday moments of life and capturing them in my paintings.”

Ferrick is an elementary art teacher in the Burrell School District. Her pastel painting, “Dance of the Koi,” was among the top 100 paintings chosen from 3,500 international entries in the 2012 Pastel 100 Competition, and the Latrobe School District purchased it for its permanent middle-school collection.

“I love noticing the subtle and bold ways that light and shadows create new and interesting shapes, patterns and colors on everything around me,” she said.

The show's 35th anniversary will mark the first time ESAL members have held an official opening-night reception, which will take place Aug. 16 from 5 to 7 p.m., with an awards presentation at 6 p.m.

ESAL holds several shows throughout the year, but the annual members' show is the only one that is officially judged. This year, landscape architect, Pittsburgh Watercolor Society member and painter Richard Rauso of Penn Township will serve as judge.

Patrick Varine is a staff writer.

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