Gallery Survival Guide

February 2, 2012

As we approach the opening for our annual Little Gems show this Friday evening, we thought we would share a Gallery Survival Guide that was written by one of our newer artists,, Rebecca Finch.  She put this together this gentle list of do’s and don’ts for some friends who may have been  intimidated by the prospect of attending a gallery opening.  Rebecca does a great job de-mystifying the gallery experience.  If you know someone who has never been to a gallery or an  opening, pass this on.  Thanks, Rebecca!


Gallery Survival Guide/ Rebecca Finch

So you think you might be attending your first gallery opening, and you’re not quite sure what to expect? Wipe the sweat from your forehead, get a tissue for your clammy hands, and breathe a deep sign of relief for we are here to help you.

Yes, sometimes a gallery is a place where people who know a lot about art, who love to drink wine and eat cheese, and who could easily purchase a wall full of expensive art, like to spout out long sophisticated words and keep the average Joe in the dust trying to figure out what just happened.

But I don’t think you will find this to be the norm at most galleries.

As you prepare for your excursion, here is a glimpse of the atmosphere you can expect to find at most gallery openings:

Rebecca Finch- Apple Solo

There might be a large group of people moving around the gallery.

 The structure is usually open house in which you may arrive at any time and leave when you wish

 Sometimes there is live music. Take it in and enjoy.

 Light refreshments are usually served.

 You may see the gallery director floating around making guests comfortable and being available for any questions or sales.

 The artists will usually be present and the well known ones will probably be in a perpetual conversation.

You will find people who genuinely love art, love to create it and love to talk about it.  That’s where you come in.  You don’t have to know a lot and you certainly don’t have to put on a front of art history knowledge.  Art is meant to be enjoyed, discussed and felt.  If you’re new to this, there’s no shame at all.  Just observe, ask questions, form your opinions, and enjoy.

There are a few common sense rules listed here but don’t be overwhelmed.  Remember that the goal is for you to enjoy yourself and not make you even more paranoid.

Gallery Etiquette:

Rebecca Finch- Bright Cloves

• Dress appropriately. Somewhere in between jeans and a T-shirt and a suit and tie is the appropriate dress for most galleries. You don’t have to be fancy, just don’t be a slob.

• Turn off your phone. This is not a place for phone calls or texting.

• Don’t head straight for the snackies. Enjoy some art first. And when you do hit the snacks remember they’re snacks. Not dinner.

• Please respect the paintings, sculpture, and glass by keeping a distance. It’s best not to touch art that you don’t own.

Refrain from making negative comments on a work of art because the artist, their friends or family could be in earshot. Share your critical comments over dessert or during the ride home.~

And here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit to a gallery:

• Step inside and take in the whole space, noting the flow of traffic and the direction you would like to proceed.

• Begin observing the art. Making note of how you feel about the artwork. Do you like it? Why or why not? See if you can find something positive to say (just in case someone asks).

• Hunt for at least one piece of art that you like the most. Or, if it’s a group show, figure out who your favorite artist is.

• Try to find out something about your favorite artist. There are usually statements or bios nearby.

Rebecca Finch -Allegory For Love

• Ask yourself why you are drawn to certain pieces of art. Analyze your gut reactions. Is it the colors? Subjects? Style?

• Do you have questions about how the art is created? The subject matter? If you feel up to it, ask the director if they can point the artist out to you so you can ask your questions. Again, artists love to talk about their craft (even the humble ones – they are passionate, not cocky).  Try not to be afraid or intimidated.

Be sure to enjoy the atmosphere, the food, opportunity to learn something about art, the live music, and above all else enjoy seeing beauty.

Hopefully this little lesson will help you on your venture into the art world. Art appreciation can be as simple as enjoying something that you’re seeing. If you don’t have plans to attend a gallery opening, then make some. It makes for a great date night accessory in the middle of dinner and dessert. Bring some friends and talk about the show over something drippy and chocolatey.


Deck the Halls!

December 21, 2011
Christmas Morning- James Ramsdell

As we head into the last few days leading into Christmas, we realize that this is a tense time for many people.  There seems like there is just too  much to be done and far too little time in which to do it.  We, here at the West End Gallery, would like to give you a moment of respite from the holiday craziness.  Stop into the gallery and take a quiet walk through some of the most beautiful work you can find, in this region or any other.  We have pieces that will take you away to quiet, peaceful places.

Or perhaps you can find that perfect gift for the art lover in your life.
Or both.
If you can’t make it it, please have a Happy Holiday.  Here’s a nice video of a Christmas flash mob from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.  It’s good fun and will hopefully put you in the holiday spirit.

Field Trip

March 4, 2010

By David Higgins, March 1, 2010

Every semester, I take my drawing class to West End Gallery. It’s a bit of a treat for the students to get out of the classroom; more importantly, it’s a chance for students to see good art in the flesh.

Alas, it snowed quite a bit that morning, so only half the class made it; really, school should have been canceled. Market Street was totally deserted– yet Linda was gracious enough to brave the snow and be on hand to open the gallery.

My modus operandi is to let the students wander around a bit and decide which piece they would take home with them if they had unlimited cash. Then, each student has to explain in turn what appealed to them about each piece; it helps them learn how to articulate about art, which is a huge part of the game. Students will open up much more readily on a field trip than they will in the confines of the classroom. And their observations are always insightful and interesting! I thought I’d share them with you.

Olivia P. went first; she chose a series of five small portrait studies by Marty Poole, done in a sketchy style with dash and verve. Olivia picked up on the background textures right away, and remarked on how their color and texture contributed a lot to the mood of each piece. Perhaps because she’s also an actress, she noted the poses and how we as viewers pick up on and read those gestures. Every semester, Marty teaches one or two of our students on an independent-study basis, and the students love both his work and his teaching method.

Whitney P. went immediately to a group of tiny fantasy landscapes by Mark Reep. Mark’s work is truly jaw-dropping in its creativity and detail, and students are typically astounded, commonly asking, “are they actual drawings?” This time, Mark had a small sign describing his materials and working methods; it’s hard to believe it, folks, but Mark weaves his magic with simple, ordinary pencils and charcoal (and cotton balls for shading). Whitney wondered if he was inspired by real places like Watkins Glen in addition to fantasy landscapes like those in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The class seemed to like the fact (as I told them) that Mark is just a regular, humble guy from Lawrenceville who likes Metallica and Led Zeppelin.

Katya P., who grew up in Tomsk, Siberia and came to the USA as a teenager, chose some exquisite and exuberant jewelry by Leah Corey of Bath. In explaining her attraction to them, Katya used a metaphor about a European bird called a magpie, which collects sparkly things for no obvious purpose other than the sheer enjoyment of their gleam. Leah is new to West End, and Linda was on hand to explain that the brooch and pin, though large and complex, are meant to be worn. These pieces have a very dynamic and organic style—good stuff.

Stacy W. selected a small gestural still life done by Sheila Ortiz. Stacy picked up on its “Japanese style,” perhaps because she’s a manga fan; she liked its playfulness. Though the ink drawing, presumably done with a bamboo brush, was only about five inches square, Sheila created a tiny dynamo, giving it the motion and vitality of a much bigger piece. She really is a master of calligraphic gesture; I had her visit my class once to guest-teach gesture drawing, and the students got some great portfolio pieces from the experience.

Bryon B. chose a colorful cityscape by Bob Ivers, a one-point perspective scene of tall buildings as a backdrop for people, busses, and cars, all done in Bob’s glorious primary colors. Bryon described the buildings as cliffs and the road as “a river going through a gorge.”

Kevin C. chose a longitudinal red tree painting by Gary Myers. Kevin described it as having a “stained-glass” quality, which speaks to Gary’s skill with light and color. I’ve taken about 30 different classes to West End over the years, and Gary is probably at the top of the student hit parade; his work has an irresistible combination of accessibility and personal vision. I love telling students the (true) story of how Gary took a drawing class at CCC as an 18-year-old freshman, and his teacher (not me!) essentially told him that he had no talent and should give up his artistic ambitions… and how Gary persevered after many years and achieved well-deserved success. One of the most powerful messages that students receive at the gallery is that the owner and the artists are “regular” people with no special training or pretensions—and that indeed, many are former CCC students, like Gary.

Bradan J. went last. He asked if it was OK to choose a piece that had no nametag. I was puzzled until he explained that his choice was the sculpture of a lion that sits in the back window. Aha! We all know that lion, but how many of us actually pay attention to it? That’s the great privilege of being a teacher; I’m constantly amazed at the insights and interests of our students. I’ll never overlook that lion again!

Due to the snow, the other venues on our field trip—the ARTS and 171 Cedar—were closed, so I dismissed the students from there. I was very gratified when they continued to hang around and talk and look at art; you know your students are motivated when they don’t make a beeline for the door at the end of class. And that also speaks about their comfort level in non-artsy-fartsy West End and the beautiful work on display, and Linda’s generous spirit in accommodating a two-hour tour on a day that would see no commerce. Thanks again, Lin!

Aleta Wynn Yarrow

February 8, 2010

Aleta Wynn Yarrow, Catching The Dream
Paper collage, mixed media

Congratulations to longtime West End Gallery artist and good friend Aleta Wynn Yarrow, who’s been named the new Director of Interpretive Programs at the Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science & Art in Scranton, PA.

I first saw Aleta’s Catching The Dream years ago in West End Gallery’s old space upstairs at 97 West Market. I remember climbing the back stairs, light slanting through the tall window on the landing, and arriving at the top to find this piece hanging on the far wall of the North Gallery. Catching The Dream was my introduction to Aleta’s work, and suffice it to say it made a lasting impression.

Nearly fifteen years later, Aleta’s work remains as personal and uncompromising as any I’ve seen.  And whatever she does, it’s always positive.

The Everhart’s gonna like what she brings. She’s got all the tools & experience you could ask for- And most importantly, she cares big.

If you know Aleta, these things- especially the latter- are evident. If you don’t know her yet, I hope you get the chance.

———-posted by Mark Reep

Gallery Gems

February 4, 2010

Our annual exhibit of small paintings, Little Gems, opens tomorrow night.  This year’s offerings really makeup a wonderful group of work and the walls are filled with selections from nearly every gallery artist in a wide range of styles and subjects.

In other words, there is something interesting for just about anyone.

From Dustin Boutwell’s tiny still lifes, like his Tootsie above, to the whimsical creature characters, such as  Pig Brother shown here, from Wilson Ong, there are too many highlights to mention.  We, here at the gallery, think this might be the best all-around group of small paintings we’ve had in the sixteen years that Little Gems has been held.

Little Gems opens Friday evening, February 5th, with a reception that starts at 5 PM and runs until 7:30 PM.  We’ll be featuring the music of flute trio A.m.A. throughout the evening.  This year’s reception is generously sponsored by a great friend of the gallery, Jo Ann Bonady and her son Joseph Bonady.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Parnilla Carpenter: At Cornell Plantations

February 2, 2010

Parnilla Carpenter, Around The Bend
Colored Pencil, 3” x 4 ½”
Matted & framed to 5” x 7”

The other day, my partner Mark asked how I felt about the phrase ‘comfort art’.  Was that okay?  Was I offended?  Yes, I said.  No, I said.  It’s a compliment. There’s too much dark and brooding in the world. Why not try to contribute a little comfort.

Around The Bend and Garden Gate are about the comfort of good memories: A sunny summer afternoon at Cornell University’s Plantations.  They’re a reminder (note to self too) that winter really doesn’t last forever, that flowers will bloom again soon.

Parnilla Carpenter, Garden Gate
Colored Pencil, 4 ½” x 3”
Matted & framed to 7” x 5”

A little about how the Plantations drawings were done:

Unless I’m doing a calligraphy or portrait where another media is requested, I work mostly these days in colored pencil on smooth-surface Bristol Board. My layers of color and the pressure I apply to blend them will buckle lighter papers, but Strathmore’s Bristol provides a durable foundation.  I use Berol Prismacolor and Derwent pencils.

These drawings’ palette consists mostly of siennas, greens and earth tones coupled with vibrant reds, blues, and yellows to make the compositions glow and pop.  Layers and colors were blended with a white pencil.  I kept the shapes of the trees and flowers simple, impressionistic, let their bright colors do the talking.

Visit the Plantations’ Herb Garden on a warm June afternoon, and you can explore these places yourself.  The bloom cycle changes with every week of the growing season, and there’s always something new to enjoy.

Around The Bend, Garden Gate and other recent Parnilla drawings are available at West End Gallery.  Her drawing Purr is featured on the Little Gems invitation.

—————- Posted by Parnilla Carpenter

Feelings On Gems/ GC Myers

February 1, 2010

The Little Gems show opens this coming Friday, February 5, at the West End Gallery in Corning.  I always look forward to this annual show of little paintings, to see how other artists tackle the challenge of working small, especially those who usually work in much larger formats.  It’s usually a great display of really interesting small works

But this show has also always held special significance for me besides it just being a great exhibit.  It was the first show that I ever publicly displayed my work, back in 1995. I wasn’t sure where the road would lead at that point and surprisingly, it has surpassed my hopes of that time. Without that first step, at that first show fifteen years ago, I might very well have a very, very different life now. So you see how I put some weight towards this exhibit of small paintings.

I also like this show for the format which forces me to work small. It’s a great opportunity to work out new things on a small basis,such as amping up different colors and blocking in new compositions. Or to  revisit a composition that I may have used in the past experimenting with a different feel and color. Small pieces enable me to work on dynamism on a small scale, finding what elements work and might translate to larger work in the future.

Important rehearsal time.

From a collecting standpoint, small works have always been important to me. Many of my longtime collectors obtained a small painting of mine as their first piece of art. I try to make the small pieces every bit the same, painting with the same care and focus, as the larger, more expensive paintings in all aspects except for the price. I like the idea of making original work available in price to most people, opening the sometimes overbearing world of art to a wider range of the public. There is something exciting about having new eyes and new energy in the galleries and both often come from people who may have been intimidated by the idea of even being in an art gallery in the past.

And like my first foray into the world of art fifteen years back, that can be an important first step.

————Posted By GC Myers