WASHINGTON DEPOT — On a warm Fall afternoon, the Judy Black Park and Gardens Gallery hosted an opening reception for four well-known Litchfield Hills artists: Jen Abbott-Tillou, from Litchfield, and her quirky one-of-a-kind pieces based on found relics of nature; Nancy Lasar, of Washington, who has painting and printmaking studios; Polly Roberts, of Washington, who is also an interior decorator and website developer; and Katie Ré Scheidt, of Roxbury, who favors painting nudes.
Abbott-Tillou said “Much of the work that I create is somewhat autobiographical. Conflict and the juxtaposition of beauty and pain are prominent in my work — combining something clean and modern with something corroded and rusty; something functional with something fanciful. Many of my sculptures have an element of constriction, yet moving parts freely flow, unselfconsciously moving in grace.”
She noted that her art repurposes industrial materials, copper, driftwood, ostrich eggs and colorful found natural objects. The piece entitled “Pitchfork,” for example, is melded with a wind-worn narrow door she discovered in her parents’ backyard. Abbott-Tillou has been creating multimedia sculptures and mobiles for three decades. After a career in physical therapy, fitness and yoga, she is dedicated to her art that creates simple images imbued with personal meaning.
For over 50 years, Lasar has worked with images observed from nature using a variety of drawing, painting, printmaking and photographic processes. Her website depicts a large number of her award-winning images exhibited widely throughout New England, New York and as far away as Sweden, China and Japan. Her works, described by critics as “condensed energy and flow” and “organized chaos,” are also in many public collections such as the Mattatuck Museum, the General Mills Corp and the Karsdal Collection.
Lasar says, “Whether in drawing, painting or printmaking, the process for me is about layering and energizing space in such a way that objects are fluid, interconnected and full of energy and movement.”
Roberts has been editor-in-chief for Vogue Patterns & Vogue Knitting, senior editor for McCall’s Patterns and fashion editor for a division of Butterick Fashion Marketing, Inc., where she wrote articles and coordinated all photography, including fabric selection, model fittings and accessorizing. In 1991 she began an interior design business, Off-Color Décor, and lists The Gunn Memorial Library as one of her many clients.
Roberts describes her approach to painting landscapes: “I paint with oils on either panel or Arches cotton paper. I work en plein air, trying to convey the quality of light and space — which is both fun and frustrating, since the light constantly changes and shifts, not only by the minute, but from day to day, with temperature and humidity. And when the light shifts, the way you see space and distance changes, so it’s sort of a race.”
Ré Scheidt worked on Wall Street for a dozen years, then became a witness and survivor of the 9/11 terror attacks. After relocating to Litchfield County with her family, she has developed a strong commission business focusing on custom abstracts, portraiture and nudes She describes her dominant artwork at the exhibition, “The Chair Identity,” thusly: “I was really drawn to the lines of a particular chair given to me by a friend. Quarantine and #Covidlife were weighing on me so I began a series with the intention of exploring the concept of sitting still — the whole sense of feeling antsy. I saw this chair as a metaphor for sitting still during Quarantine.”
Ré Scheidt’s nude paintings are one of her favorite subjects: “There is a beautiful angle for every woman, regardless of age or size or shape, and I love capturing it for them and I am absolutely honored to paint them. It is such an empowering choice to embrace who you are and the skin you are in.”
Executive Director Laura Neminski commented in the annual report for the Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens, “Welcoming friends and neighbors to the Park — our central gathering place for our many events — has been a highlight of my year.”
The Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens Gallery at 1 Green Hill Road in Washington Depot will be open during all public events, including Farmers Markets, on Saturdays from10 a.m.-1 p.m., through October, and Sing-alongs on Saturday evenings 4-6 p.m.
For more information visit www.thejudyblackparkandgardens.org.