Thursday, February 11, 2010

Figures and all that Jazz

"Figures, Chocolate and all that Jazz" opens tomorrow night, Friday, February 12th with several reasons to celebrate - well the snow stopped didn't it? Emerging from the blizzard of the century (so far), I hear the traffic below my window moving at a normal rate of speed on pavement rather than ice. Yesterday at this time it had finally finished with a second dumping of snow in a week, each more than foot, so it's no small feat to find the roads clear!

This bi-annual Figure exhibition has always been one of my favorites, and as we installed this one, I couldn't help but feel fortunate to have the camaraderie and talent of the stable of artists I do. This latest show includes some from our first Figurative show in 2002 - Eva Bender and Catherine Prescott, some regulars from Lynden Gallery like Janet Hammond, John Lehman (yes, we found figures by John!), Stacey Carter, Fran Williams Wagner and Jim Bright, and some more recent additions including Bob Patierno, Holly Crocker Garcia, Clifton Sheely and Constantine Kermes. The show is stunning, which David and I spent our snowday installing, showcases each at their best.

Spanning the decades, some work by Fran, Eva, Bob and John go back as far as the 1950's and 60's. Which brings me to the second reason to celebrate - the life and work of Fran Williams Wagner, who passed away early January this year. An illustrious, creative career behind her, I met Fran at the Masonic Homes at the urging of her friend (and my customer) Jody Darrow, who is no longer with us either. "You have to see Fran's work!" she would tell me numerous times before finally bringing an armload of sketchbooks and journals to the gallery, putting them in front of me, and saying, "now look!" I'm glad she was persistent, because it's truly been a privilege sorting through her work and getting to know Fran over the past three years.

Fran Williams Wagner was born in 1916 in San Francisco, California and spent most of her adult life working as a ceramicist and muralist. She hand-glazed and fired ceramic tiles of all shapes, colors and textures for enormous, commissioned murals she designed and installed. Her old scrapbooks show a young, lovely woman, tilework laid out at her feet as she walked around adjusting final details, or up on scaffolding during installation. Her public commissions include the Miami International Airport in Florida, Joaquin Bacardi Home in Santiago de Cuba, and Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, and additional works in Arkansas, Puerto Rico, Key West, Washington DC, and Buffalo, New York. A few smaller ceramic works survived her collection along with her sketches, which Lynden Gallery manages as was her wish. The sale of her work will continue to benefit her family and the Masonic Homes. For more about Fran and her work, kindly visit

Our third reason to celebrate is twenty-five years in business, which began at the kitchen table with a newborn, Jenna, by my side in 1985. As a calligrapher I peddled my work to Donecker's of Ephrata and numerous craft shows in the area including Lancaster Town Fair, the Pennsylvania Arts and Crafts Show at the Farm Show Building in Harrisburg, and the Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show. Joe came along in 1986 followed by Layne in 1992 and Lynden in 1994. In 1991 we renovated an old Victorian home on Market Street, just down the street from the current gallery location, and opened a frame shop with my calligraphy studio.

In 2000, after working with lego underfoot and the kids finally all in school, I was eager to move the business out of the house and opened the gallery. Another reason to celebrate! Ten years!

"Figures, Chocolate and all that Jazz" opens with an Artist Reception from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. Jazz feature is The Reese Project and chocolate provided by Elizabethtown's own M&M Mars Chocolate Company and Spence Candies. The exhibition will continue through mid-April.