A bit of peacefulness in Walnut Creek gallery exhibit
By Lou Fancher
Halcyon days are increasingly rare — except on the walls and in the 3D art on display at Diablo Fine Art Gallery.
At the Walnut Creek gallery in the Palos Verdes Mall, “Halcyon Days” features paintings depicting tranquil landscapes or cheerful, watery beach scenes. Adding dimension to the 2D photographs and paintings are multicolored plates,handwoven one-of-a-kind shawls, custom jewelry and quirky objects like ceramicist Donna Arganbright’s “attitude figure” that is a vase but also a human form.
“Halcyon refers to peace in the past,” says gallery owner and exhibit juror Margaret Lucas-Hill. She, along with co-owner Judy Bolef Miller, selected the show’s roughly 50 pieces from work submitted by 36 artists. Twenty-two members of Lamorinda Arts Alliance and 14 gallery artist whose work is regularly displayed at the gallery are represented in the show.
The theme — peacefulness — was introduced by Mark Coffey, a gallery artist who also writes the monthly newsletter.
“The board bought into it,” says Lucas-Hill. “We can use peace right now with all the political things here and overseas terrorist events. We do seem to be having scary times.”
But there’s nothing frightening in Cynthia Whitchurch’s glasswork, ceramicist Lucia Tsang’s necklaces or the flowers in Carla Gelbaum’s beatnik-style painting, “Ninth Bloom.”
Sandra Berkson’s abstract “Road Map” is on exhibit along with Lynn Edwards Haggerty’s figurative work that shows a woman reclining in a deck chair.
Coffey’s “Halcyon,” a signature piece for the show, sets a sailboat, moored, on a placid waterway. Clouds suggest an impending or just-passed storm as a couple walks on the causeway.
Peace, the accumulated artwork suggests, is appreciated even — or especially — when its absence is at risk.
“When we put out the call with the theme, most of the artists had work that fit the subject,” says Lucas-Hill. “But what was most surprising was how cohesive it was. When you send out a general call, you won’t know if the colors will work together or if it will all fit on the walls.”
More unpredictable yet are sales and the response from clients. Lucas-Hill says that as a gallery owner, she’s come to recognize that purchasing original art is partially generational.
“The younger generation doesn’t want clutter: they want disposable things, or are trending that way. But that could come full circle to where they are collecting things. We have young families who are looking for something that speaks to them. Everything is subjective.”
Which explains why one of the gallery’s most consistently popular items are the handbound journals made by Lucas-Hill.
“Everyone makes notes on their phones now, but the journals sell well. Maybe people are loving their digital device and it’s certainly transformed our world, but there’s something about a tangible object that people still value.”