Garry Childs writes of his new work, “I have been making a series of pieces in the past few years in which I apply local clays to the surface of my pots to develop complex textures. My new work for this show will combine this technique with the bright colors and carving seen on my planters, vases and bowls.”

Mixed-media artist and founding member, Pat Merriman, describes her inspiration for Combinations: “For this show I have created several collages in response to Our State Magazine. I learned several startling facts about my birth state. One collage forcuses on Biltmore School of Forestry. Another portrays a series of old wooden windminlls that lined our coast many years ago. It’s always exciting for me to discover obscure facts about North Carolina and to then turn to my canvases to create collages with both printed material and paint.”

Photographer Eric Saunders writes, “For my work Combinations means three different things. It can mean combining complementary or opposing elements in a picture, or combining more than one picture into a collage, or finally combining different digital techniques to manipulate a picture. I have made 10-15 photographic images utilizing all three of these methods, and all three of these types will be part of the featured artist show.”


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Larry Favorite

Since childhood, I have had a deep fondness for trees. My mother told me that as soon as I could walk, I started climbing the trees that surrounded our house in rural Indiana. Any time day or night, if she couldn’t find me, she would walk outside and look up into the trees.

I was an engineer until my 30s, when I encountered the work of George Nakashima, a Japanese architect turned woodworker. His book, “The Soul of a Tree,” reflected my innermost thoughts about trees. I realized then that my life’s journey was going to be shaped by my mental, physical, and spiritual “communion” with trees. After another decade of searching, I found desert ironwood, and my path to becoming an artist was set.

Today, 40 years later, I look forward to going to my studio every day. Yes, there are orders to be filled and deadlines to be met. But when I step into my studio, I pass through a “bubble of light,” and leave any stress or worries outside. I approach each new day with a clear mind and an open heart.

With a cup of hot coffee close by and (on most days) the sunshine on my face, I begin having a conversation with my wood pile. I sort through piece-by-piece, until something stirs within me and a piece of wood speaks to me. I listen to the wood for guidance, and let the wood tell me what it wants to become.

When you hold a piece of my work in your hands, I hope you can sense my reverence for the wood itself. If you can sense a bit of the soul of the tree from which that wood was taken, then, as an artist, I can feel at peace.

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Susan Hope
Playful Puzzles
The preparation of the mosaic pieces for this show was a
challenging puzzle in every way. Mosaic art work is as old as time
and historically, have been done with tile or stone and in the more
present ages with glass. Since I have been working in stained
glass for 30+ years, I have hundreds of pounds of ‘scrap’ glass
stored for the next smaller use. Like a fabric artist with a ‘stash’ of
fabric, I too had a huge stash of glass to work with. Chips of the
rainbow, I like to call them.
Trees have always been powerful images for me and have been
used in all forms of my glass work. The piece “Matriarch”, is of the
huge, ancient, oak tree on the hill above my studio. She has stood
the test of time and storms and has never failed to greet me as I
gazed across the field. I find strength, stability and peace among
the trees.
My technique, is really simply my vision…imagination. There is
the mundane part of cutting and priming the backing board but,
sometimes I get lucky and images reveal themselves in rough
pencil sketches on the board or perhaps a few words of a song or
inspiring phrase that is running through my head that day. I
sometimes ‘see’ the images but more often they are revealed as I
begin to work.

Detail of Spring Festivities

The plastic bins of glass crowd my table as I begin to sort and
choose my palette. Once defined I begin cutting, chipping,
snipping and gluing pieces of glass in place. The hardest part is
that first piece of glass. Honestly, the whole process is a puzzle,
one that I create as I go and one that also forces me to find
pieces to fit into spaces created by others. It is critical that I work
slowly enough to assess the patterns and colors because once
the glue is dried the changes can only be made with a great deal
of elbow grease and occasional spewing of words.
After the design is revealed and shadows and tones are
established I continue to work the background. This is when the
pieces get smaller and smaller and smaller. Filling in the final
gaps with grout is exciting and the final cleaning can reveal far
more than I even imagined. The uniformity of the grout between
all those tiny pieces of glass is very satisfying.

Spring Festivities

I was inspired this winter as I worked by the bizarre seasonal
changes we experienced. “Surprise Snowfall” was done on the
day of the largest flakes ever seen and “Spring Festivities”
happened as the redbud trees began to bloom…earlier than they
should have. It seemed that the Seasons had come together to
play. That is what it was like to create all these mosaics too…
paying homage to my tree friends, many long hours of serendipity
and a playful spirit.

Surprise Snowfall


Happy Accidents

Ellie Reinhold

At the Trees By Three opening last Friday many visitors asked me about my process. Observing some of the painterly details in Rose Hill, one commented, no one would be able to reproduce that.
It’s true, I said in reply, not even me!

Rose Hill (detail)


Rose Hill (detail)

Much in my painting relies on happy accidents. While I’ve developed a set of tools and methods, a certain touch and approach over practice, I rarely have a detailed plan when I begin a piece. I may, however, have a guiding notion—such as a technique I want to use, or a color combination I’ve seen in the woods and want to celebrate. Or perhaps I might be spurred on by a loose compositional concept suggested by one or more scenes or details in nature that I’d like to explore. Sometime a more metaphorical impulse initiates the piece.

Despite this, at a basic level most of my paintings are found through the process of painting. The guiding notion combined with the marks and hues that initiate the piece define a puzzle I have to solve. The act of painting is a search.

To find resolution I follow an intuitive path. I work the whole composition at once with a process that’s both subtractive and additive. I create, shift, alter and recreate the composition, sometimes many times, sometimes radically. I use brushes and painting knives to apply paint, as well as tools to either apply or scratch away lines. Since I use opaque paint, acrylic heavy body straight up, it’s easy to erase by painting over, but what I like best is to paint over incompletely. The more I work, the more inevitable this incomplete coverage is since I am working on a surface that has become irregular; textured in a way that is informed by previous compositional details and informs future ones. The gifts of this process are many, multi-layered hues and ghost images among them.


Emerging Warmth

I build my pieces both quickly and slowly. I’m most fond of working with a loose and quick paint application, one that is heavy on physicality but can manage fine detail through the give and take of many happy accidents over time. This approach eschews an overly precious process—so it’s more fun for me as a painter—yet can achieve a dense surface and interesting details. With broad, then more delicate, pulling, pushing and tweaking the painting is eventually revealed… if I’m lucky. This is not guaranteed!

The completed piece is the resolution to the puzzle—regardless of whether the painting has achieved the guiding notion with which I began. For, as I told one viewer who asked how I decided to paint a particular piece, many paintings don’t go where I expect. At some level every painting is a surprise to me. Each one holds the key to it’s own final state. Paintings can demand to be something else altogether, giving me no choice but to follow the happy accidents.


Autumn Pocket



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Trees by Three


Ellie Reinhold writes of her new work, “They say ‘write what you know.’ Does the same apply to painters? I’ve been a narrative painter focused on the story for a long time. But one day about a decade ago, walking to my studio, the trees followed me in. I had to paint them. They set up camp in my studio, have grown to fill it, and haven’t left yet!

I am, for sure, a child of the eastern woodlands. It’s the only landscape I know. I have favorites. I confess. There is the 300 year old oak that our rope swing hung from growing up; the magnolia outside of the art building at school where I found recuperative space; the cherry tree I was finally able to plant when I got my own little plot of land; and the pair of trees I slid between on a walk in the woods that spoke to my body with a shiver… I’m sure!

Recently my work reflects my love of color and pattern in combination with my love for the beauty and contrasting austerity of winter tree forms. I suppose I’ve always painted what I know. Lately, it’s been trees.”

Larry Favorite is another artist featured in this show;  Favorite’s work is a natural fit with the theme of trees.  His sculpted boxes, vases, bowls, and lamps all are made from ironwood trees that grow in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.

Favorite explains, “Each winter I make my annual trek to the Sonoran Desert to gather more ironwood, not knowing where (or even if) I will find the quantity and quality that I need for my work for the coming year.  The wood that I was able to gather this year is truly extraordinary – with some of the most beautiful natural grain that I have ever seen.  Every piece that I am placing in this show is made from wood gathered on this recent trip.”

Favorite continues, “As an artist  I derive my greatest satisfaction from being one with the wood and releasing the beauty that is within.  I love the challenge of looking and listening to each piece of wood, and letting it reveal to me what it might become.  In addition, I make a conscious effort to transmit healing energy from my heart through my hands into each piece of art that I create, almost as a prayer or a blessing.  For me the highest compliment I can receive is when a person holding a piece of my work comments on how calm the work makes them feel.”

Susan Hope describes her new work for Trees by Three,  “My glass work for this show began looking out my studio windows and contemplating the old oak trees beyond. I often waver between literal illustration and impressionist renderings in my work. This time I dug deeper for the inspiration and focused on illusion and light. I wanted to express the energy of life and the joy of being part of it.

Hope writes, “My mosaic panels are either built of boards of done as glass applique (glass on glass) adding yet another dimension of light and imagery. Some of pieces are done as fused paintings and incorporated into the mosaics which are attached to the base. Either way I hope that the viewer of my work is able to take a virtual walk in the woods and feel peace and strength while contemplating the Tree.”

Opening Reception

April 27



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Lynn Wartzki
I decided this year to fully embrace my role as the “paper” in our featured artist show “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” All of the art doll sculptures I created for this show have their mix-media roots planted in a figure executed in some combination of papier-mâché and paperclay.  These materials are highly versatile and allow me to really play with such a playfully themed show.
I love the fact that we at HGA get the chance to experience the satisfaction of creating twice.  There is the solitary experience when, as an artist, you decide that a piece is complete.  It is extremely exciting when what you see on the worktable embodies exactly what you had sketched in a notebook, or held in your mind’s eye while working.  The second, even more enjoyable experience, occurs during our gallery opening when we get the chance to see the work through the eyes of the viewer.  It is so very interesting to hear what draws another to my sculpture, hear the questions they evoke, or, my personal favorite, when you see that spark of agreement when they hear or read my description of each piece.
I also played with the paper theme beyond just materials used, it is also included in the inspiration for many of my sculptures.  I find a number of my art dolls residing in the space somewhere between figurative sculpture and book sculpture.  Three pieces in this show are drawn from works of fiction.  For two of these, “Boleyn’s Ghost” and “Tinkerbell Never Lost Her Shadow”, I utilize selected text from paperback copies of books as part of their surface design.  An additional sculpture, “Local Star” utilizes a different definition of the word paper, as in the news.  “Local Star” is a dancer positioned in the same pose as one of Degas’ well known works, but wigged and clad in a costume created from in the pages of the local newspaper.
The last piece I created before installation of the show is titled “Hope”.  My inspiration for this art doll was color and a smile.  I started not with my figure, but with brightly colored tissue paper used to make papier-mâché balloons.  “Hope” is a seated doll that starts with black feet and gradually lightens as you move up the figure ending in an explosion of rainbow “hair”.  Completely conceived to bring a smile, I was rewarded at the opening when the viewer who eventually purchased her exclaimed, “That’s my kid!”



Arianna Bara

Mortified. That’s how I feel every year on January 3rd. The holidays have just rampaged through, the final glitter dust is just settling on the floor and the wreath is still on the door, where it will remain until I am shamed into removing it mid-February. So it is. I think perhaps I can breathe now and pull out the calendar to look ahead to what the new year holds. I gasp when I see that my March Featured Artist show at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts is just around the corner (this happens every year and every year I am surprised).

Three months can feel like a long time sometimes, like when you’re 6 months pregnant and big as a house or when your child is a toddler or when you’re counting down the days until summer vacation ends and your child goes back to school. But three months never seems like enough time to prepare for a Featured Artist show.

I usually spend January hunkered down in my studio in the woods, watching the snow fall, learning new techniques and experimenting with designs. This is always such a thrilling time; designing is on my mind every waking moment and I have given myself the luxury of play and exploration.

At the beginning of February the new designs come to life as I focus on a handful of large pieces that will be the highlights of the show. Designs are the first thing on my mind in the morning and dance in my thoughts as I sleep, which I don’t do enough of. Towards the end of the month the frenzy kicks in and builds until the day the show goes up at the end of March.

By the time the reception begins I have been subsisting on a diet of coffee and walnuts for longer than I care to admit. A steady stream of people flows into the gallery and I’m surrounded by friends old and new who have come to see my work, hear what inspired it and support me with their hugs and kind words. At the end of an exhilarating evening I crawl into bed exhausted but smiling.

January through March are filled with a creative intensity and growth that I experience at no other time of the year. It is at once exciting, expansive and filled with pressure that is totally of my own making. Every year I both look forward to it and approach it with apprehension. And so it is.


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