Art members visit Crossroads Gallery

By Page H. Gifford

Several members of the Fluvanna Art Association visited Crossroads Gallery in Richmond on November 16 for their yearly field trip. In years past, trips included highlighted exhibits at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and various workshops. They had visited the Nichols Gallery and learned about printmaking and Fred Nichol’s work as well as a variety of galleries on the downtown mall and the McGuffy Art Center. But Crossroads offered a wide range of art, from paintings to three dimensional work, and photography.

Visiting museums gave members a historical perspective of the masters and different art movements around the world influencing art in culture. Hands-on workshops in glass and printmaking introduced them to new mediums they might not have experienced. Galleries feature the current trends, styles, and reflections on the current culture.

The gallery boasts 225 artists and three buildings devoted to displaying, shows, and classes and 25,000 square feet of exhibition space. This is the place where private collectors, art and corporate consultants, architects, and interior designers go to find art that gives their clients self-expression.

Many mediums and styles were represented. Among the painters, it was less about societal messages and more about personal views and experiences. Travel and nature were popular themes with many artists. One artist created striking paintings in colored pencil. It has been said that Gloria Callahan’s work resembles acrylic painting. She is also unusual, not only for her choice of medium but completing a Plein air piece in detail outside with colored pencils. She also uses water soluble oils but prefers colored pencils. It is a medium that requires tedious detail.

Many artists featured bright bold colors. Beginning artists are often afraid of color and how to manipulate it for the best results. Seasoned pros know how to control the bright chroma so it does not overwhelm the onlooker. Explosive color was evident in many abstracts, featuring blending and softened edges. Very few abstracts had hard lines which seemed to be a trend. Also, many were using the new medium of alcohol ink in their abstracts, giving them rich vibrant colors.

Members Bev Bowman and Brenda Cohen stood in awe of one artist’s work. Ocean waves rising in upheaval were classic modern realism and the light reflected in the waves were near perfection except for nature itself. The teal underside of the waves looked like glass. Not too many can capture such flawless detail.

Mixed media and collage were also making a comeback, using contemporary techniques to make pieces unique and beautiful. Collage takes just as much thought as a painting but has some interesting effects.

The painters were involved with experimentation in mediums, including cold wax with oils (aids in the drying), alcohol inks, mixing colored pencils with other paints, and not settling for the purist approach to art. In other words, artists today are breaking the rules and making pieces that reflect their views in a new way.

The member’s show was eclectic and offbeat. The FAA members were uncertain of why some won in their category but only the judges would understand their reasoning as to why certain pieces won. Most of the winners were abstracts and this added to the confusion of FAA members. Everyone will view things differently is the only way to explain this phenomenon.

Anyone looking at the vast body of work can appreciate the time and skill that went into each piece. Wood sculptures were smooth, reaching upward in a twisting motion while the glass was delicate and iridescent. Pottery showed distinctive and clever ideas and each piece of jewelry was personal and exquisite. It is amazing to look at each artist’s work and to be drawn into their creative minds. For the FAA members, it was inspiring even though some believed they could never reach this level. But seeing the possibilities influenced a few to try and venture into new areas of artistic endeavor.

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