New Artists Keep RiverArts Studio Tour Fresh and Fun

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Lesley Campana at her loom

Now in its 18th year, the RiverArts Studio Tour promises to be exciting as always. Fifty artists and artisans will be opening their studios to the public on this free self-guided tour on October 21-22 and 28-29, 10-5, rain or shine. In addition, the RiverArts galleries feature examples of art by the artists on the tour.

There are many artists who have been a part of the tour for years. Visitors enjoy revisiting their favorite artists to see their latest work and how it has evolved. This year there are six new artists on the tour whose work you must see.

Fifteen years ago, Lesley Campana was looking for a challenging art form.  An interest in textiles led her to a week-long beginner weaving class at The Mannings in East Berlin, PA. She is now a member of the Harmony Weavers’ Guild in Wilmington.

Lesley’s weaving uses classic designs that she modifies to make unique. She also creates many of her own original designs. “When I’m learning a new weave structure I follow an established design to learn the technique. Then I create my own designs using that structure. I have even obtained a copyright on an original design.”  In addition to exploring new weave structures, Lesley likes experimenting with color.

Lesley’s work includes infinity scarves, table runners, and kitchen towels. The towels are a great medium for learning new techniques because they are relatively quick. All of her scarves and shawls are unique.

Decoy carver Doug Gates has been a waterfowl hunter since the 1950’s and collected wooden ducks. He came to admire each one of them for their artistic characteristics. Along the way, he got to know a few carvers and became friendly with the late Charlie Joiner, a nationally recognized local carver. Doug decided to try carving in 1989 and has been whittling ever since. “I’ve made more canvasbacks and blackheads than anything else and quite a few black ducks too. I have tried my hand at different birds including barn swallows, owls, crows, snipe, a few swan, geese and a slew of shorebirds.”

Doug Gates

For Doug, carving has been more of a therapeutic endeavor, a challenge, a desire to create something that pleases him. Of late, he has been focusing on rescuing old wooden decoys that have seen their day, yet retain a character of form and use, with an untold history and mystery.  And so he cleans them up and resurrects what he can, not to their former glory, but out of respect for their proud past. He probably has a hundred or more decoys in his collection, some of which will be displayed during the Studio Tour.

Robert Lasus’ art background includes an MFA in Sculpture. He creates sculptures in stainless steel, wood, and found objects. “The artistic challenge is to take heavy, lifeless materials like wood and evoke a sense of lightness and movement.”

With all his work there is an environmental consciousness. Re-use is the best recycling. “I work with found objects, found wood, especially from trees I have known. I limit the use of toxic materials and when I do use them, I am careful of collateral effects.

After years of working with other materials which require varying degrees of maintenance to retain their pristine looks and survival, stainless steel seemed to be the material of choice. Most of Bob’s major public works have been stainless steel horses. They can be found in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, at AstraZeneca US Corporate Headquarters in Wilmington and in private collections. There are a number of pieces visible in and around his Rock Hall Studio.

Joanne Lantzy Plum

Joanne Lantzy Plum’s interest in art developed from her father. He was an oil painter but worked another job and had a farm. By age nine, Joanne wanted to paint. Her father gave her a brush, oil paint, and a board. Her first painting was a snow scene with a tree, stream, and bridge. Her major was art in college but she dropped out and eventually studied with well-known local artists she admired. The last artist she studied under was Sean Wyeth.

Through the years, Joanne worked at a gallery/frame store and as a floral designer. In 1998, she began teaching private art lessons at her studio in Pennsburg, Pa. She moved to Worton last year but still travels once a month to Pa to teach some of her remaining students.

Currently, Joanne is concentrating on painting. She works in oils, soft pastels, acrylics, color pencils and some graphite and charcoal. Her subject matter ranges from landscapes, seascapes, still life, and portraits of pets and people for which she takes commissions. Her favorite medium or subject matter happens to be what she is working on at the moment.

Alice Ritchie took art classes as a child and enjoyed that immensely. She got back into art after retiring from a career as a lawyer and child advocate. She is now able to indulge her passion for travel and her art is often based on those experiences. Alice studies pastels with Mary Pritchard and acrylics with Cindy Fulton, both very popular local artists who will also be on the tour.

Alice is a very adventurous pastel painter in that she tackles complicated compositions, particularly those of people and architecture. Her portrait of “Market Man” has a Van Gogh-like vibe because of its vibrant colors and graphic shapes, while her pastel of Cuban ballerinas uses subtle shades of ochre, gray and green to depict the light of the ballet studio enveloping the young dancers. Her landscape paintings that are inspired by her travels are also notable for their strong shapes and textures, particularly the street scenes in which she uses pastel’s unique ability to show light raking across brick and stone. Alice continues to explore media, subject matter, and style. She finds the exploration exciting.

Sherrie Von Sternberg started to explore photography by watching her daughter, Morgan. Nine years ago, when Morgan was 13, she begged for a camera. Sherrie started watching her create and thought “I would like to try that. It sparked in me the creative light I remember that I had from childhood through my early 20’s…the creativity I gave up for the corporate world.”

Sherrie’s greatest mentor has been Dawn Gardner, a photographer in Manassas, VA., “who is technically amazing. I am encouraged by her, especially by her telling me she can always recognize my work! That gave me a lot of confidence by knowing that I had a voice that a professional recognized.”

Sherrie uses three different cameras. The Nikon D750 is a tool she can use in any situation. It is a full frame camera with an infinite range of uses. Her subject matter ranges from a simple stalk of corn to a complex human being.

Sherrie’s iPhone 7+ has a great app. Technical camera advances in this iPhone as a camera have made it very similar to using film. She can see what she is shooting and manipulate it in the camera. “Sometimes it is like a toy; it is so much fun to use. I use it every single day.”

Sherrie just started using the Polaroid 600 Plus which is definitely a challenging camera – you have no control over it. Photos come out the way they come out – it is a surprise every time. “I use it for getting a different perspective on a project. It lets me show a different kind of art.”

Studio Tour brochures may be found at the Gallery and at restaurants and shops throughout Kent County. Examples of each artist’s work are included on the Riverarts website and will be on display at RiverArts, 315 High Street, in Chestertown. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday, 11-4, First Friday, 11-8, Saturday 10-4 and Sunday, 11-3. During the tour, the gallery will be open Saturday and Sunday, 10-5.

Special thanks to our sponsors: Chesapeake Bank and Trust, Kent County Tourism and Development Office, WYPR Delmarva Public Radio.

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