March 10, 2006 - Letter to Chestnut Hill Local

March 10, 2006 - Letter to Chestnut Hill Local

The Chestnut Hill Gallery
On Friday, March 10, in the evening opened at the fairly new Chestnut Hill Gallery, 8117 Germantown Ave., what struck me as the best show I have encountered in my years of looking in and around our community. Come to think of it, no other out-of-the city show has matched it in my books.

Joseph Borrelli, the owner/director, has presented us with a well thought-out, well-lit, nicely installed exhibition called Spring Forward, which turns out to be a very apt title. Four local women artists of his choice, each of whom knows her way around the world of paint and canvas in a modest space which contributes to a sense of intimacy, is the content and the visual diversion on these walls is really satisfying.

On each side-wall hangs the work of two artists. The ground is vibrant, warm and white, inviting. The smaller works are hung close to the entrance for a good first look (actually, going and coming) whereas for distance viewing the larger ones are well placed at the rear. As one enters on the right, there are the vibrant sophisticated flowers of Marta Sanchez, surrounding as they do several almost abstract scenes from railroad yards, sharp and decisive lines, strong work.

To the left of the entrance Nancy Wheelers’ still lifes of domestic arrangements in lovely harmonious colors. The light that comes from them is appealing. One responds to these works. Look again.

To the right at the end Ronell Douglass has several large cool soft but firm compositions that invite contemplation. A large landscape of Maine coast islands woods and bay is handled with original vigor and stroke. Quite different from the classic model of this subject. One small canvas of drifting white flowers in a dark green copse is very appealing.
To the left rear, spotted on entering is one of Judith McCabe Jarvis’ arresting, witty landscapes. In one, two bright wooden longback garden chairs in an interesting play of color, face left. There are several canvases, white framed. One of drooping sunflowers close up and inscrutable. Two more night cityscapes — wet reflections featuring yellow cabs, commanding and well, chaotically constructed, give impact.

At the far end, in the office on two walls, in a remarkably tasteful, jam-packed arrangement is the gallery inventory, which unobtrusively beckons.

I was delighted at this fresh sophisticated collection; competent, in no sense derivative and painted in each individual’s thoughtful vocabulary. Thank you again, gallery owner/director, artists and Chestnut Hill.

Marjorie A. vonMoschzisker
Chestnut Hill