Six local artists who live or work in Wilton comprise “Art Times Six Art Exhibition,” the first art show of the winter season at Wilton Library, opening Friday, Jan. 6, from 6-7:30 p.m.. The featured artists are Janel Cassara, Art Gerstein, Susan Kurnit, Lenore Sillery, Russell Sillery and Cindy Sinor. With more than 60 works being featured, there is a diversity of subject matter, style and medium ranging from animals to portraits, impressionistic to abstract, oils to manipulated digital photography and more. The reception is free and open to the public.
“Some of the artists’ works may seem familiar,” notes Ed MacEwen, the art chairman for Wilton Library. “All six artists exhibited during the annual Summer Show and as I walked through the library, there was something memorable from each of them that made me realize patrons might like to see more.”
The six artists all come to their passion in different ways:
Cassara grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota, where she first enjoyed drawing and all things art. From drawing pictures for all the kids in kindergarten to creating commissioned landscape paintings in high school, art has always been in her blood. She attended Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, earning degrees in apparel design/pattern-making as well as a BFA in fine arts–painting, drawing and printmaking. She studied all the masters, but was particularly drawn to Georgia O’Keefe, Wassily Kandinsky and Salvador Dali.
A career in finance gained her an MBA from the University of Colorado at Boulder, yet it sidelined her painting. After an 18-year business/finance career, she retired to take care of her family. She is an active volunteer in Wilton, working on Minks to Sinks, Turnover Shop and Wilton Children’s Theater, and she occasionally finds time to flip houses, do custom sewing, create murals, paint theater sets, and paint for her own enjoyment. Cassara recently commented, “It is an honor to be selected by Wilton Library to display more pieces of my crazy color creations.” (Shown above left: “Lilies” by Janel Cassara)
Gerstein began taking photos as a child and has melded his avocation with his vocation. In his early career he was an assistant to photo-journalist Lucien Aigner and a production still photographer for Stanley Kubrick’s special effects director, Doug Trumbull. He took that knowledge and started working in the newly-introduced digital camera technology realm in the ’90s. Impressionistic color pieces Gerstein produced on paper, canvas and aluminum were a continuation of what he learned working with photographic films joined with the newer digital technology.
His latest work combines aspects of impressionism and animal portraiture. “The show consists of animal portraits taken at the Norwalk Aquarium (where I served three years as artist in residence), from the Sanibel Island Preserve in Florida and from an expedition to the Galapagos Islands,” Gerstein explains. He is currently a member of SPAG in Norwalk and ART/PLACE in Fairfield. His work received the Florida West Arts New Direction Award for Artistic Achievement in 2008. (Shown above right: “Snout” by Art Gerstein)
Kurnit’s early career was as a fashion editor who worked closely with photographer and art directors in laying out Seventeen magazine for many years. She learned a lot about composition and light through osmosis. Her first art class began with a continuing education stint in which she painted images from National Geographic as her classmates painted Georgia O’Keefe style flowers. Her first oil was an ocelot, “…and apes and gazelles followed.”
After raising her children, she went to graduate school and became a secondary school history teacher in private and public institutions. Now semi-retired, she has rediscovered her love of painting and is currently taking classes with Althea Ericson and Steve Parton, a member of the Silvermine School of Art faculty in New Canaan.
Kurnit has created a pet portraits business for proud owners. “My love of animals was the inspiration for my new endeavor,” she says. “I live in Wilton with my wonderful partner, who feeds the birds, fish and ducks every day. We are the proud parents of two wonderful, 16-month-old Labrador retrievers. It is an honor to have been selected to display my work in this winter show.” (Shown above: “Godiva” by Susan Kurnit)
Lenore and Russell Sillery
Lenore and Russell Sillery are a married couple who enjoy making beautiful pictures together, yet individually. Their collective dream was to live the life of artists on a farm selling their paintings “as true children of the ’60s.” They found that life happens, and so they put their brushes down and opened an advertising agency in the ’80s, where they worked side by side every day for 28 years. (Shown left: “Munoz” by Lenore Sillery)
Now retired, they both have picked up their brushes again and are “losing ourselves in our passion…art.” Russ’ interest is in figures and landscapes working in oils and mixed media. Currently he is in a critique class at the Greenwich Art Society. Lenore loves portraiture and has recently discovered colored pencils while taking class with Martha Talburt in Wilton. She enjoys the detail that can be achieved with colored pencil. Lenore also studies with Eddie Nino in Norwalk, and with his guidance, has started to paint in oils. The couple lives in Wilton. (Shown above right: “Her Last Morning” by Russell Sillery)
Sinor, a native of upstate New York, is a commissioned artist and art instructor who resides in Wilton with her husband and two children. She teaches adult students through Wilton Continuing Education classes and private lessons. Sinor studied marketing and fine arts at University at Albany, where she earned her Bachelors and Masters Degrees. She spent ten years in corporate publications, marketing and public relations before leaving the business world to raise her family.
Later, as an adult education student, Sinor was inspired to pursue her life-long love of art as a second career. Her realistic colored pencil drawings bring both humans and animals to life. In addition to her portraiture work and teaching pursuits, she donates her artwork in support of local organizations such as PAWS, Animals in Distress and the Wilton Food Pantry. Describing her own work, she notes, “My colored pencil portraits express the beauty in the details—the subtleties that often go unnoticed.” (Shown above left: “Mountain Man” by Cindy Sinor)
The exhibition runs through Friday, Jan. 27. A majority of the works will be available for purchase with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the library. Wilton Library hours are Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m. The library will be closed on Monday, Jan. 16 in observance of Martin Luther King Day. Wilton Library is located at 137 Old Ridgefield Rd..