Art Exhibit: Chasing Light, Chasing Color, A Blue View Pastel Group Exhibition

Exhibition Opening Reception:

  • Thursday, January 11, 2018 from 4 pm – 6 pm

  • On View: January 11 – June 5, 2018

The Drummond Public Library is pleased to present Chasing Light, Chasing Color, an exhibition of pastel paintings by 10 of the members of the Washburn Pastel Group cooperative. This winter/spring show features the work of area artists currently working together in their rented studio facility in Washburn.

The public is invited to an opening reception on Thursday, January 11, 2018 from 4 pm – 6 pm. At this free event, guests will have the opportunity to mingle with the artists, hear a presentation at 4:30 p.m. about the pastel group’s history and learning process, tour the library and co-located Drummond Historical Museum, enjoy beverages and reception hors d’oeuvres.

The Blue View Pastel Group had a very bitter-sweet beginning. Many of its members began exploring the pastel medium about twelve years ago with Doug Thomas, an inspiring, empowering, talented teacher. Thomas started an art school and gallery in Washburn in 2005. Before coming to Washburn, he taught high school art for 27 years. He had the skills and patience to get beginners initiated into the world of pastel painting. When he died of cancer in 2011, a small group of his students decided to continue painting and learning together. They first gathered in Doug’s studio and then in Karlyn’s Gallery, Washburn.

The pastel group’s special bond is their mentor Doug. He was bigger than life. He is very much still alive in their Tuesday evenings together. Not one evening of working along side each other goes by without the familiar refrain, “ remember Doug said…or here, this what Doug would have done.” It is amazing that all members of the permanent collection of pastel artists now making up the core of the group chose to be in a show together. They have banded together to share their passion with the Bayfield County community. Each comes from a different place artistically and adds to the exploration of pastels

As the Blue View Pastel Group evolves, the group occasionally brings in a professional artist to guide them in new techniques. “The most important thing we do (however) is paint together every Tuesday night. We gather at Karlyn’s Gallery in Washburn at 5:30 p.m., and paint for several hours, “ said Chris Lindsey, a group regular . “ At the end of the night we critique each other’s work. These critiques are positive, supportive, problem-solving discussions, “ Cynthia Meyer, another core member, added.

Artists embrace pastels for many reasons. Joanne Meierhofer group member said, “ I think it’s mostly the combination of drawing and painting that’s the most appealing, plus the fact that what you see is what you get—no drying to a lot lighter shade or mixing mud.“ With a twinkle in her eye, Michelle Williams warned,” Caution is overrated! Pastels is a bold medium that responds well to experimentation, a firm hand, and the company of like minded friends.”

A pivotal moment in the group process came for Suzanne Smiles, member of the creative group since its beginning, when the group got wooden boxes, met and helped each other put the colors in the right order. “ Now, we looked like artists,” commented Suzanne.

Working in a group presents opportunity for learning and for struggles. You sometime really love someone else’s work, but must develop your own style. “Critiquing other people’s art work is challenging, but the outcomes have been good and positive. It is a very supportive group. Realizing that everyone sees things differently is part of the journey,” said Gretchen Burke. “Other members often see things in my paintings that I can’t see myself— things to adjust or correct or things to keep working on. This is essential,” added Elizabeth Lexau.

The Blue View Pastel Group members have exhibited and sold their work in galleries in the area. “The natural beauty of the Chequamegon Bay inspires all of us,” offered Pat Gierczic.“ We work from photographs in the winter and try to work “plein air” (outside) in the summer.”

Newcomers are always welcome to join. Currently the group includes 10 regulars and several interested recent attendees. Ann Christensen, one of the group’s founders suggests, “ If you have not worked in pastels before, you can take a few private lessons from one of our members so you can get off on the right foot.”

It is fantastic to see the progress each person has made over the years from continuing to paint every week in a supportive environment. Doug Thomas would be proud of each artist that he inspired to begin the journey into pastel painting. The ten participating artists sharing their work in Chasing Light, Chasing Color are Cynthia Meyer, Michelle Williams, Gretchen Burke, Joanne Meierhofer, Suzanne Smiles , Pat Gierczic, Ann Christesen, Chris Lindsey, Elizabeth Lexau, and Sandy Isely.

The public is invited to stop by during regular library hours and enjoy this colorful show. The Drummond Public Library is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 to 5 . Saturday hours are 9 to 1 p.m. The Drummond Public Library has a dedicated space created to hold art shows. One of the library’s missions to to bring art to the community. Starting off the new year with new art hanging in the library, gives library patrons and area guests a special reason for their visit When the walls are bare, the Library Director, Suzanne Widmar hears, “ Where is the art?” These Blue View Pastel Group artists are making certain that there is new visual art for visitors to enjoy.
— Mimi Crandall