Twice a year the students at in Tarrytown have an exhibition, and now's the time to check it out.
In addition to the many and varied works by students, filling most of the front window is Yellow Hands…One Love, by professional sculptor Ingo Appel. Next to it, a work by Jeremy J. Butler previews the upcoming Nude! show, which will open in September. Inside, Hudson River scenes by Staszek Kotowski and David Mahler remain from the previous show.
An opening reception for the student exhibition was held on Friday, August 19th. The celebratory atmosphere was enhanced by well-known local musician Chris Reising.
“The oldest student is 92, the youngest is five,” said gallery owner and teacher Athena He. “I enjoy the personalities, the life stories, we become unbelievably close just from the art…It's a big party. I love the energy.”
Cynthia Semsel is showing several watercolors and two colored pencil drawings. She has taken classes for about eighteen months.
“It’s very therapeutic. I was unemployed at first, laid off from being a full-time textile designer, and I wanted to keep myself in a creative atmosphere," Semsel said.
"Now I’m a part-time freelancer, and the class has helped me in my job... I went to Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and learned to be loose in painting, and now I'm focusing on really fine detail. I get very, very involved, lost in it...I was really depressed when I got laid off, and I really looked forward to coming to class. I learned more from Athena about putting myself into my artwork than I did at RISD because the classes here are so intimate that I get a lot of personal attention.”
Sucely Lopez, who takes the Saturday Landscape Class, is showing several of her paintings. She and Semsel both prefer to work from the real object or scene rather than a photo.
Ninety-two-year-old Persian-born Nahib Qaimmaqami, also known as NaNa, is showing several vibrant works. She started making art in 1990 and is largely self-taught. Like Semsel, she spoke of the therapeutic aspect of making art, which was her initial inspiration.
“One night I was sitting alone by myself. I felt sad and lonely because none of my (seven) children were there," she said. "I started with colored pencils, drawing a cat from imagination. When the children came to visit, they encouraged me to keep doing it.”
“She's very creative,” said her daughter Soody Nelson, her fifth child, who accompanied her to the reception.
Qaimmaqami has shown works in the past. A few years ago at Warner Library her art was on display, and she was delighted when they sent her a letter asking to show it again. She said that she prefers watercolors, even though they're more difficult than oils because you can’t correct them.
“It's very innocent,” said her daughter of the work. “The colors are very bright and vivid. Some are based on illustrations from Persian Tales. She also likes birds and flowers.”
One watercolor depicts a Sufi, which Nelson explained was a spiritual guide, similar to a Yogi.
“All of them have a story,” the artist said. “I can’t go to every class. I like it so much I come whenever I can.”
The full list of student participants in the student show is: Loomis Mayer, Debra Portnoy, Patti Ludwig-Regina, Ismael Aktuln, Maggie Molloy, Amy Chalan, Cynthia Semsel, Deborah Beece May, David Barnett, Joanna Barnett, Susana Canfield, Sucely Lopez, Ronald Lazar, Anderea Torres, Liza Malik, Chizuko, Corey Manning, Nahib Qaimmaqami, and Jackie.
Professional sculptor Ingo Appel said that he hopes the work he is displaying at Studio A will eventually travel the world.
"The idea behind it is 'How do we negotiate if we have nothing but the hands?'" Appel said. "The idea came from China, around 50 A.D. Now it's relevant again with the crazy economy we have. This piece was chosen in 2010 by the National Sculpture Society for exhibition at Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina. It was also shown at the National Academy of Design on Fifth Avenue about four years ago.”
For many years Appel owned Irvington's Villa Lewaro, which he said he considers to be a sculpture itself. He bought the villa, which had been built by Madam CJ Walker in 1918, “and saved it from being destroyed." Appel has been a guest lecturer at Columbia University's Teachers College and is on the Sculpture and Interdisciplinary Studies faculty of NJCVA, the Center for Visual Arts of New Jersey, located in Summit. He now lives in Irvington and Mendham, New Jersey, where he has a studio.
As a "transformative educator" Appel has, with sixteen female artists, created a book, 16 Visions, about “International women from all walks of life, transforming themselves within the arts.”