Members Greet Friends at Middle St. Gallery

by Gary Anthes

The Middle Street Gallery in Washington, Va. is putting on its annual Members and Friends exhibition, in which members of the arts cooperative show their works alongside those of invited guest artists. On exhibit from Jan. 27 through Mar. 5 will be views of the natural world, the built world, and even the supernatural realm – trees, water, wildlife, city structures, computer-generated figures, and people going about their everyday lives. Prints, photographs, paintings, drawings, and sculptures will all be offered.  

The essence of this eclectic exhibit, “The Gallery,” by Tim Carrington, friend of member Susan Raines, is a painting on display of a gallery full or art and people. A reception for the artists and public will be held on Sat., Jan. 28, from 3pm until 5pm.

Birds flock to the gallery this year. Guest artist Thomas Whittington, friend of Phyllis Magrab, offers a photograph of the Icelandic Arctic Fulmar in flight over water, trailed by both its shadow and its reflection. Magrab echoes the firmament with her abstract painting of  “a gentle summer sky on a very warm day.” Mary Cornish, friend of member painter Cathy Suiter, offers hyper-realistic drawings of  an Andean condor and a Northern Masked Lapwing. Member Joan Wiberg and her friend Nora Harrington both show oil paintings of birds in their natural, wetlands settings, created at the recent plein air festival in Chincoteague, Va.,

American towns get their due, with Suiter offering paintings from Old Town Warrenton, and Thomas Spande taking us to tiny Etlan, Va. for a watercolor view of the Etlan General Store. Guest artist Branden Eastwood shows a photograph of a mechanic working on a car in Havana, and his mother, photographer Francie Schroeder, has a close-up picture of  a man sitting on a bar stool. Ray Boc shows a photograph of an old local mill, while his friend, photographer Mathew Black, offers a picture of a boy floating serenely in a swimming pool. Black says, “I found myself wondering about this boy, quietly adrift, who then pulled me into my own wandering fantasies of drifting effortlessly in space.”

Photographer Jo Levine and painter Fae Penland take us indoors for still-life views of a red rose with a fan, and common kitchen objects on a table, respectively. Also with interior still-lifes are Lori Wallace-Lloyd and guest artist Davette Leonard, both with fruit or flowers reflected in silver containers. 

A number of views of nature are offered, with Spande's friend Chris Stephens showing a painting of sky and river converging at sunrise or sunset, and guest artist Emilse Wolff presenting a pastel of “crashing waves” at the seashore. Phyllis Northup shows a pair of steeply vertical paintings of walnut trees. Guest artist Barbara Serbent offers “Montana Triplet (Postcards from the Road),” showing “the unparalleled beauties of Glacier National Park.”  

The show is rounded out with several forays into the mystical. Jim Serbent, husband of Barbara Serbent, offers a digital collage “inspired by levels of being and states of consciousness rooted in Tibetan Buddhism.” Wayne Paige pairs his surreal combinations of people and animals with an errie  painting, “Fox Visitation,” by Sidney Lawrence, which “recounts a spookily cosmic encounter” with a fox in a remote part of northern Denmark.

Barbara Heile, a former member returning to the gallery, makes her debut with “Music of a Wedding Feast,” oil and cold wax on a panel. “The longer I paint and the longer I live, the process of both just leave me in wonder,” she says. “How one life can saturate the surface of a painting is a mystery; how it touches another life magnifies that mystery.”  

Heile's friend, Jason Zahn, whose work “revolves around the intersection of defined, planned forms, and spontaneity,” shows the abstract painting, “Structured Chaos.” Mystery also lies in the abstract painting “Seeing Through,” by Pam Pittinger, “a mixture of opaque areas, glazes and line made with soluble pencils.”