WESTERLY, R.I. Janet Maher, an artist, and her husband, were looking for a new home in Rhode Island when they began to look at towns. They were drawn to Westerly because of the Artists Cooperative Gallery of Westerly.
When I saw downtown Westerly, my first thought was, “Oh my God, this must be where we are going,” Maher said. I began to research it all and started walking around. I saw the art gallery and thought, There’s an art gallery here! It was all part of the bigger plan.
Maher is a Westerly resident as well as a co-op member. This month, she will be exhibiting her work in the February 2022 show.
The show is called Environment: Between Sea & Sky and will be on view at the gallery (14 Railroad Ave. Westerly). Helen Roy, a member of the publicity committee, said that it is partly a celebration Westerly’s beauty and coincides with the 30th anniversary of the co-ops.
Roy said that the show represents a rebirth in the gallery after it had drastically reduced its offerings during COVID-19.
Roy stated that we were getting more and more successful each day. This show, in particular, is like “Were back” and “Were full steam ahead.”
Maher is one the shows’ two featured artists. John Craig is the other. Craig and Maher both joined the coop in June 2021. Maher joined in September 2018.
Roy called each featured artist “prime real estate”. Their work is displayed on large panels at gallery entrance. They can display more than a dozen pieces instead of just two or three like the other 40+ artists in the show.
Maher displayed 14 pieces, including one called Prayer for the Earth. It is composed of three drawings depicting creatures and insects, worms, and a book she said looks like an accordion.
Mahers’ work reflected sustainability, and the show’s environmental theme was a good fit.
Maher explained that she creates pieces often from materials most people would throw away. Shell takes used printer toner, bakes it onto a piece paper, and then shell uses scrap materials to create a collage.
Maher stated that it is often the things people throw away. I work best with this kind of source. It is something that no one but me would save.
Craigs pieces, on the other hand, are more abstract and relate to Mahers’ theme.
Craig, who calls himself an abstract expressionist painter, stated that the pieces he’s exhibiting at the show, with the exception of two paintings depicting flowers, are more abstract and representational than representational.
He said that most of his work is an expression of emotion rather than a representation of a person, place, or thing.
Craig said that when I paint, I feel something and that reflection is what I do. It might be profound or very unique, but it is often reflected in the work. This is one of the reasons they don’t all look identical.
Craig stated that people who express interest are often unable to identify which piece they’re referring too.
Roy stated that Craig’s pieces might not adhere to the theme of the exhibit, but she was excited that he would bring his unique style to the exhibit.
Two really talented, new featured artists have joined us. Roy spoke highly about Craig and Maher. It complements the existing artists.
Roy will also be exhibiting her work at the show. Her piece, called Watch Hill Sky, is an oil painting that depicts Watch Hill as it sunsets. She called it an abstract seascape. She said she was focusing on the colors and feel associated with sunsets, rather than Watch Hill.
Environment: Between Sea and Sky takes place in February. However, many of the pieces, including Roys Watch Hill Sky, are more summer-oriented than winter.
Roy is fine with that. Roy was actually happy to remind her of summer while she was working on her painting.
Roy said, I thought, That’s what you want to see right now. I want to think of the summer and the beautiful sunsets, and Watch Hill.