Glastonbury Arts

Ken Dorros

August 8, 2012glastonburyartguildFeatured ArtistComments Off on Ken Dorros

After twenty years as a corporate lawyer, Ken Dorros decided to pursue his passion for painting. He enrolled at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, where his teachers focused on foundation skills like color theory and perspective. They introduced him to the dynamic range, unique optical qualities and rich color of oils.

Old Oak

Old Oak, Oil by Ken Dorros

Ken works as a plein air painter so that he can immerse himself in the rich details of the landscape through direct observation. He travels to scenic sites throughout New England. In particular, he loves to visit Monhegan Island in Maine because of its pristine scenery, geographic isolation and artistic history.

Ken paints in a lively, contemporary impressionistic style. He says that the key is “not what you do say, but what you leave out.” He believes that, “Like a Willie Mays over-the-shoulder catch, a great painting should look effortless and spontaneous, regardless of how much work went into it.” Inspired by the work of John Singer Sargent and John Henry Twatchman, he strives to create a free style with confident brushstrokes.

Last year, Ken explored tractors and pickup trucks as subjects for a series of paintings. He was drawn to their distinctive character and connection to Glastonbury’s rural history. While farming machinery is not traditionally considered part of a painter’s repertoire, he enjoys incorporating elements of the contemporary world into his art.  Ken occasionally does commissions. While in Maine, he was commissioned to paint two paintings for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. that reside in his personal collection. He exhibits his art in Wilmington, Vermont, West Hartford and South Glastonbury Coffee Roasters.

Ken Dorros often listens to music as he works. When he brings his iPod to his outdoor workspace, it serves as “a catalyst for jumpstarting the creative process.” A variety of musicians, including Pat Metheny, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Alison Kraus, set the tone for his painting.

Ken has been an active member of the Glastonbury Art Guild since 1996. He enjoys participating in the annual On-the-Green Show, which he describes as “one of the highest quality outdoor art shows anywhere.” Last year, he won first place in 2011, and he will participate again in the 2012 show on September 8 and 9 on Hubbard Green.

Katherine Simmons

June 14, 2012glastonburyartguildFeatured ArtistComments Off on Katherine Simmons

Katherine Simmons’ career has been as unpredictable as her painting. She pursued art briefly out of college as an advertising illustrator, and then she worked in human resources at Aetna Life & Casualty, Hartford. After spending twenty years at the company, she decided to re-channel the skill set and intellectual flexibility she had learned in the corporate world to become an independent businesswoman. She began working as an interior designer but quickly transitioned from the commercial arts to her true passion, fine arts.

Marsh Stillness

Marsh Stillness, Oil by Katherine Simmons

Kathy paints in a contemporary realist style that many characterize as impressionistic. She believes that “everyone has a style that develops over time, like a signature.” As an artist, she tries to translate not only what she sees, but also how she responds emotionally to the scene. Working on oil-primed linen canvases, she uses quick-drying alkyd oils to create evocative paintings that explore the interplay between light and shadow. She finds inspiration in the work of early Masters such as William Merritt Chase, Dennis Miller Bunker, and John Singer Sargent, as well as contemporary artists including Richard Schmidt, Clyde Aspevig, Christopher Magadini, and Kathy Anderson.

Simmons enjoys painting landscapes because she is drawn to the light, textures, and rhythms of the natural world. All of her landscapes are inspired by places she has visited, whether she paints on site or in the studio. They are infused with the beauty and tranquility of her native New England.  She also likes to paint still lifes, which she describes as “little meditations.” Using her interior design skills, she chooses objects and arranges them in a way that captures her interest. “I have to love what I’m painting,” she says.

Katherine Simmons has been actively involved with the Glastonbury Art Guild for over 20 years, and she teaches oil painting all year round. She believes practice is the key to developing technique, saying that painting is a physical skill as much as an aesthetic one. Once her pupils become comfortable with their materials, she encourages them to resist the influence of their family and friends, instead painting subjects that speak to them personally so that they can discover their own artistic voices.

Katherine Simmons earned a Fine Arts Degree from Massachusetts College of Art.  Her work has been featured in The Pastel Journal, American Artist Magazine, and Connecticut Magazine.  She is an elected artist member of the Connecticut Plein Air Painters Society, Connecticut Women Artists, Lyme Art Association, Salmagundi Club, and Oil Painters of American.  Her work is widely represented in private and public collections as well as in corporate collections including Aetna, Massachusetts Mutual, Najeti Incorporated, Yale-NewHaven Smilow Cancer Center and the Welles-Turner Memorial Library.

Christopher Gurshin

Christopher Gurshin’s art reflects the natural beauty and rich traditions of his native New England. He first became interested in art as a child growing up in Marblehead, Massachusetts. In his spare time, he loved to look at Norman Rockwell pictures in magazines and paint pictures on pieces of driftwood he found on the beach. Many of Gurshin’s traditional style paintings depict the stark beauty of the New England landscape.

Original Painting by Christopher Gurshin

Snow Flakes in Connecticut, by Christopher Gurshin

After serving in the U. S. Marines, Christopher worked at King’s Rock, a coffeehouse in Essex, Massachusetts, which hosted musicians ranging from Judy Collins to Bonnie Raitt. He managed the venue and decorated its walls by painting tavern signs. Later, he opened his own shop named “The Yankee House” where he sold antiques, paintings, and penny candy. As a side job, he entertained guests at special events by dressing in the character of a mid-nineteenth century decorator and painting murals.  Over the years, Gurshin has painted commissions, including a series for Friendly’s restaurants and Easter eggs for the White House during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. He loves these opportunities because they encourage him to adapt his work, building upon what he calls “discovered accidents.”

Gurshin is well known for his distinctive folk art style, which depicts New England landscapes using acrylic paints and stenciled images. These paintings often include colonial houses, horse-drawn wagons, and other historical motifs. While he paints on a wide variety of media, including canvas, wooden boxes, miniature pine houses, tin, and furniture, he says that he feels most comfortable with wood, which reminds him of the driftwood of his childhood. Gurshin likes making these pieces seem old-fashioned because he believes that the “feeling of age gives the paintings warmth.”

Christopher Gurshin also enjoys painting in the Americana tradition, which is colorful and structured, often referencing historical events. For example, one of his paintings incorporates landmarks of Boston, such as Haymarket Square and the Union Oyster House. Gurshin, an avid storyteller, uses his artwork to inject historical narratives with a whimsical flair. Describing his process for these paintings, he said, “Sometimes I just blast away and don’t plan out the structure. The painting just seems to fall into place.”

Each time Gurshin has moved, the physical features of the land have informed the subject matter of his paintings. After marrying, Gurshin moved to Newburyport, and in 2003, he moved to Glastonbury. He was the first artist to join the Chamber of Commerce, and soon afterward, he painted lively posters to advertise the town’s Apple Harvest Festival, using the vibrant foliage of the riverside in autumn to add color and interest to his design. Glastonbury’s rocky hills and rolling orchards continue to inspire his paintings. Recently, Gurshin has contributed to the community by spearheading a project to purchase a historical town clock. In addition, he is a member of the Glastonbury Art Guild and he served on the board for one year.

Gurshin’s gallery by the Cider Mill in Glastonbury is as unique as the artwork it displays. Filled with mementos, works in progress, and trompe-l’œil surfaces like a false brick wall, it is a living tribute to Gurshin’s art. During his free time, he enjoys doing stonework and gardening on the property, because for him, landscaping is simply another form of painting. Gurshin is happy living in Glastonbury, saying, “I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.”

Aida Cyphers

April 15, 2012glastonburyartguildFeatured ArtistComments Off on Aida Cyphers

A Glastonbury native, Aida has embraced art in its myriad forms since her childhood.  While pursuing a career in the retail industry, she became an avid ballroom dancer, participating in the highest level amateur competitions across the East Coast and Canada. She channeled her artistic talent to design her own dance costumes and arrange store displays at work.

In the early 1990’s, her husband persuaded her to explore painting at a workshop at the Fletcher’s Farm School for the Arts and Crafts in Ludlow, Vermont, where she discovered her gift for oil painting.

Since then, Aida has immersed herself in the medium, auditing courses at the University of Hartford Art School and participating in Plein-Aire workshops with the late Beth Ellis in Ogunquit, Maine. She has also studied with Katherine Simmons, a Glastonbury artist and teacher at Glastonbury Art Guild. She incorporates her love of photography into her paintings by using many of her own photographs as references. Her style reflects her deep appreciation for nature.  Aida’s work has been featured at various galleries and art shows, including the Weston Inn in Weston, Vermont, the Hunter Lea Gallery in Ludlow, Vermont, and the On the Green show in Glastonbury.  In addition to her artistic pursuits, Aida volunteers enthusiastically for the Glastonbury Art Guild and served on its Board of Directors for many years.

Harry White

February 20, 2012RachelPiankaFeatured ArtistComments Off on Harry White

At age twenty-six, Harry White determined that he wanted to develop his own unique form of expression and so he developed “fleurage”, the name he gave his collages made primarily with flower petals and plant parts.

Reaching for the Moon, fleurage by Harry White

Reaching for the Moon, fleurage by Harry White

Harry presses his materials between sheets of facial tissue placed in large telephone books. They dry according to the nature of the plant material and the climatic conditions. When dry, they are categorized by type and color and stored in horizontal files.

He assembles his selection of petals and leaves and cuts and adheres them to an archival surface using a glue formulated to bind and preserve antique and rare books. He applies the glue with a brush, utilizing a glass palate for a working surface. The glue is water soluble when working and permanent when dry.  Over thirty years, he has developed numerous  techniques to achieve different forms of expression including landscapes, portraits and abstractions. Harry believes that practice, experimentation and mistakes are the best teachers.

Harry says that it is essential for him to be at one with his medium from the ground up and so gardening in all of its aspects is focal in his life. His goal is to be able to give truth back to the world through his art, a truth that perceives motion, change, pattern and eventually an evolution.  Harry’s art and his garden were recently featured in, The Inspired Garden: Twenty-four Artists Share Their Vision (DownEast Books 2009), providing an exciting lesson on how artistic principles underlay garden design just as much as they do sculpture, painting, mosaic, or other arts.

Harry White at work in his studio.

Harry White at work in his studio.

Harry’s garden illustrates his interpretative concepts of motion and change to beautify and create harmony and resonance with the natural world. With an eye for composition, texture, and color, he breaks traditional garden “rules”.  His artistic expression in the garden is a natural extension of his artistic medium.  He was hailed by Picasso’s first agent in the U.S. as “one of the few artists of the 20th century to create a new art form, “fleurage”.  The Book of Knowledge credits him with creating the fleurage medium in 1983.

Harry has exhibited extensively throughout New England, New York and Washington, D.C. He has been featured in Smithsonian, Yankee, Horticulture and American Horticulturist magazines and in dozens of newspapers and on local television.

Lois Eldridge

The Glastonbury Art Guild debuted its online member exhibition with the work of Lois Eldridge (1928-2018) . As one of the Art Guild’s founding and longest continuing members, the organization recognizes her for her foresight and support of the arts in its many forms.

Lois Eldridge - 7 Pears

Lois Eldridge – 7 Pears

Teaching, traveling and pottery are the focus of Lois Eldridge’s world.  She refers to them as her three careers, and has woven them into a life creating beauty, discovering faraway places and sharing knowledge.

A founding member of the Glastonbury Art Guild, Lois set out to be a teacher, and pursued that vocation both here and abroad.  She taught Spanish and French, and was a teacher in Glastonbury for students from third grade through adult education. “I’ve always loved teaching,” she says, “It is the most noble profession.”  Later, she tutored and volunteered at Glastonbury’s Buttonball School.

Along the way Lois was introduced to pottery.  She joined Wesleyan Potters and began a life-long study of clay, design, and glazes.  Looking back on the years that she was establishing herself as a professional potter, she recalls shipping wholesale orders all over the northeast as she studied with fine teachers and visiting potters from around the world.  She came to realize that her income as a potter would not be enough to allow her to pursue the kind of travel she wanted, so she found another solution.  She took a desk job with American Airlines and managed to travel to fourteen countries during her years there.  She thrilled at the unique pottery of South America, the breadth of history in Greece’s antiquities, and the glorious porcelains she saw in Shanghai.  Museums were a highlight of her travels.

Chemistry and mathematics, once among her least favorite subjects, are now tools used to create magnificent glazes for her pottery.  Lois worked on a team at Wesleyan Potters to develop crystalline glazes.  Her conversation is sprinkled with words like celadon, zinc oxide, titanium, manganese and iron.  The glazes sparkle and reflect light as though stars were beaming through the pieces.

Lois Eldridge admires crafts people, saying “whether they work in wood, metal, gems, or clay, or any other natural material, these artisans take what is available in the earth and bring them to life.  It is an amazing process.”