The Community Arts Center’s newest exhibit started as a simple lunch among friends. Three Danville artists – Sarah Wiltsee, Donna Forgacs, and Barbara Lockhart – would meet together for lunch and companionship, talking about life and art. “The last couple years have been challenging for all three of us,” says Sarah, “but it was cancer that bonded us. We became our support group, having lunch and just saying whatever we needed to say, knowing the time and space we shared was safe. As time passed, we realized that Barb was having a setback and we decided we needed something to plan for and look forward to.” Donna agrees, saying “We know that art is healing and the creation of art takes your mind off whatever is going on in life. The theme of color is cheerful, up-lifting, a way to brighten days. Preparing and meeting together was a way of supporting each other.”
The friends approached the Community Arts Center’s Creative Director, Brandon Long, with the idea of a three-woman group show and he eagerly agreed. The resulting exhibit – Expressions in Color – will be on display at the Arts Center from June 1 through July 30. The exhibit showcases the unique styles and interpretations of its three artists and celebrates the friendship that they share.
Expressions in Color is sponsored by Community Trust Bank. Dave Maynard, President of the Danville Market, says “Community Trust Bank believes that investing in quality of life of our community is vitally important to the overall health and vibrancy of our community. We are proud to support this excellent exhibit that showcases the work of three of Danville’s finest artists.”
The three featured artists produced work in very distinct styles. Barbara Lockhart, who passed away in January, worked mainly with graphite, charcoal, and pastel. Her subject matter varied, but horses had been a long-time passion for her and are the subject of her pieces in the current show. One of Barbara’s pieces in the show is unfinished. She was working on it at the time of her passing. Arts Center Creative Director Brandon Long says this piece is one of his favorites. “Barbara’s paintings of horses always seem so smooth and polished, yet they somehow have this great dynamic energy – almost as if you can see and anticipate the horse’s next move across the canvas. In this unfinished painting, we are treated to seeing the sketch that lies beneath the final coats – and the energy is all there. You can see how she calculated the horse’s anatomy and how she captured all of the movement in these early stages of the work.”
Donna Forgacs is a lifelong nature lover who captures and preserves its beauty through oil paintings saturated in French Impressionism. She bases her studio paintings on her own photographs or creates paintings “en plein air” to capture a scene before her while standing outside. Although deeply connected to her Kentucky heritage, Donna also paints scenes from her world travels, particularly France. In fact, the reception for the exhibit was scheduled toward the end of the show because Donna will be traveling in June.
Sarah Wiltsee is drawn to abstract artwork with vivid colors and different shapes. Sarah says, “For this upcoming exhibit I started out to paint different subjects or types of abstracts and after the first two I realized that I was painting only women. After some discussion with Brandon and the other two artists in the exhibit, I got the go ahead to just have women and make it my theme! Perhaps the pull to paint only women reflects on the journey we were taking as friends.”
Donna says that working collaboratively on a show brings a lot of benefits to the artists. “We care for, encourage, and support each other. Sometimes, producing that much creative work on a deadline can feel overwhelming. Or maybe you get stuck and run out of ideas. The others can cheer you on.” She adds, “Preparing for the show has challenged me to work on large canvas. It was scary at first, but fun once I learned how. It stretched me in a way that I would not have done on my own. The large space can allow for more freedom of movement and expression.”
Brandon Long, agrees. “I think the planning of this exhibit really pushed these artists to do their best. I can see a lot of progress in their most recent works prior to this show. I see them taking greater risks and digging deeper into what makes their work unique while working together to make sure that the art works as a cohesive exhibit.”
Sarah adds, “Working on this show has been difficult, especially when we knew Barbara might not be there to see it. We discussed that possibility one day in December over lunch when Barb brought up that maybe we should get a replacement for her in the exhibit. We told her we started this together and we would end it together and that her art would be shown alongside ours regardless of what happened!”