Saturday, April 30, 2011

In the Gallery -- May 2011


As the Curator of the Library's Mary Bishop Memorial Art Gallery, I am often asked how I find the artists we feature. The short answer is - I find them wherever I go. Our current wall-artist is one example of how this works.

Indianapolis artist Sandy Ezell was a judge at the Indiana State Fair two summers ago and so was I. We judged children's art together with a third artist. When judging was over, we had lunch together and shared bits of our lives. She told us she was currently a practicing artist and teacher. My ears perked up! Back home, I looked up her website and wow! Did I ever want to share her work with our community. That was July 2009. Our first gallery opening was May 2011, but we made the deal…And here she is.

A SPLASH OF COLOR: Watercolor Paintings by Sandy Ezell is hanging in the Mary Bishop Memorial Art Gallery from April 29 to May 31st. Enjoy!

A native of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Sandy first pursued a career in music, receiving her B.A. from St. Olaf College in Minnesota. After her children were in school, Sandy was looking for something creative to do that would fit in with her children's schedule, and found she was interested in watercolor painting. Since then Sandy has taken classes at the Indianapolis Art League and taken workshops from master artists around the country. Floyd Hopper, Marilyn Hughey Phillis, Maxine Masterfield, Al Briollette, and Barbara Nechis are some of her teachers. Sandy is presently on the faculty of the Indianapolis Art Center and teaches water media at the Watercolor Society of Indiana and Lawrence Community Education Program, J. Everett Light Career Center and demonstrates for organizational workshops for as requested. Sandy's husband Jim and a friend built a two-story studio for her right in her own backyard. Soon after the building was complete, Sandy began using the first floor for a custom framing business, leaving her painting studio to sitting high in the clouds overlooking a backyard flower garden and pond filled with bright orange goldfish to spice up the scene; most definitely a tranquil setting for artistic dreaming. A few summers ago, HGTV was filming for the show Our Place and called Sandy for an interview about her experimental water media techniques. Having only a few days notice, Sandy was ready and willing to do the interview right in her colorful garden. The segment introduced viewers to new ways to use watercolor.Always expanding her vision, Sandy is currently exploring new techniques in water media with a goal of allowing the viewer to become more involved in the painting. If everything is spelled out, it's only a one-sided conversation. By creating impressions and abstract areas, someone looking at the painting can bring their own experience to it and see something unique to them. Then the artist and the viewer have a more interesting discussion.

HELEN MILLIGAN'S EGGS & ANGELS by Nanette Kentner Helen Milligan's daughter

Helen Milligan's love of eggs started over 90 years ago! As a child she looked forward to decorating Easter eggs with her brothers, William and Emery Bunnell. She enjoyed the day after Easter even more when she could crack the shells and eat the hard boiled eggs, even though eggs were never her favorite thing. It was always the egg shell that fascinated her! After cracking open the colorful shells, she used the tiny fragments to create intricate mosaic patterns on paper. That was the very beginning of her life long love affair with the incredible, non-edible "shell of an egg"!

"Growing up with Helen Milligan as a mother was always interesting" writes daughter Nanette, who assumed all kids', grew up with creative mothers like hers. One day Nanette returned home from school to be greeted by painted life size carousel horses standing side-by-side in their tiny living room. Helen had spent the entire day painting them for the Psi Iota Xi Annual Charity Ball. Oil paints, pastels and water colors were as common on their dining room table as forks, knives and spoons were to most families. The sewing machine was always set up and ready to create curtains, slipcovers and clothes. Helen designed many matching outfits for her children. When Jackie Kennedy was in the White House, Nanette's Barbie doll sported exact replicas of the latest "Camelot" fashions. Once, Helen wanted a new sofa and her husband said "No". Imagine! Not to be stopped by a small disagreement, Helen pulled the old sofa out into the yard, mixed up a huge pot of Rit Dye, and guess what? When Helen's husband returned home that afternoon, there sat a "grand new" elegantly purple sofa right in the middle of the living room! Knitting, crocheting, sculpting and of course acting are just a few of Helen's varied artistic talents, but for her, the sweetest of these is egg decorating. She decorates mostly chicken eggs, but has used duck, goose, turkey and tiny quail eggs when available. Using manicure scissors, she cuts a perfect oval in each egg, empties the contents, yolk still intact and uses tiny paint and eyeliner brushes to paint the elaborate scenes inside each egg shell. Among Nanette's favorites is one of Helen's first decorated eggs when she used a feather shed by their parakeet, Gorgeous George. Helen's love of eggs further inspired her to create sculptured angels. With a basic cone and bent wire for the arms, a whole egg shell is placed atop the cone and vintage cloth dipped in a mixture resembling wallpaper paste is draped over the foundation. Tiny bits of lace, ribbons and beads add interest, but the egg faces are always left unadorned. One of Helen's angels was recently placed in the History Room at Wabash Avenue Presbyterian Church where the Milligan family has worshipped for many decades. Angels and eggs are often given to family and friends, but are never sold. At 95, Helen exhibited her latest painting "Flora" in the Downtown Art Exhibit last fall. It now hangs on the wall of her great-granddaughter's bedroom.

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