"Getting to Know You"
Read any artist’s statement, and you may learn about the medium they prefer, the tools that they use, what inspires their art, and what their artistic philosophy is. You might discover what drove them to choose their current subject matter. Naturally, all these things relate to their art.
We as an art league value our fellow artists and have become familiar with their styles. But, we also think that it’s important to get to know them not only as “the guy that does the still life watercolors” or “the woman who paints the large abstract oils,” but also as individuals beyond the art world. In that light we bring to you, “Getting to Know You” – interviews with your fellow West Hills Art League members. (If you’d like us to get to know you better, contact Rita Wilson).
For our first article, Nancy Bush, one of the Art League’s original members, was kind enough to let us put the spotlight on her…
GETTING TO KNOW: Nancy Bush
On a soft spring day in late April, Nancy Bush takes a break from the painting class that she teaches at the Robin Hill mansion to sit down with me for a few minutes. She holds a worn manila folder with clippings and articles from the past several decades. Nancy is one of the founding members of the West Hills Art League. My first meeting with Nancy was in 1972, when I was invited to join as a student member. Only three teenagers attended the meetings in the Moon High School art room, and as high school students, we considered ourselves lucky to be part of an adult art league. Little did I know how much impact this would have on my life and little did Nancy know that, almost fifty years later, the league would be a viable professional organization that has touched so many lives.
Nancy hails from Altoona and began her education at the Altoona Campus of Penn State, where she also met her husband-to-be, Glenn. After two years she switched to the main campus, where she earned her degree in art education. She remained at State College and taught art in the public schools. She married Glenn, and moved to the Pittsburgh area, where she met Nancy Gorr, a fellow artist, at Sharon Church. The two choir members, having discovered a mutual interest in art, decided to submit entries to the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Nancy recalls taking the artwork to the Carnegie Museum in Oakland. Neither artist was accepted, and neither had any organizations to put on the application, so they decided to start one themselves. They contacted local art teachers John Miller, Bill MacFarland, and Thelma Fielder from Moon, in addition to teachers from Quaker Valley, and their early meetings took place at Thelma Fielder’s house before moving to the Moon High School art room.
Although Nancy did not continue a public school teaching career, she did continue to paint and to teach art. She held art classes for children in her home, and eventually began teaching art at Sweetwater Arts Center and Robin Hill. Her roots to Robin Hill run deep – Nancy Bush, along with Nancy Gorr, organized residents to save the beloved mansion from being razed, allowing Moon residents to enjoy the mansion and grounds for classes, festivals, weddings, and picnics.
Nancy’s art style has evolved. In the beginning, she painted realistically, but says that after a while “it felt boring.” She would demonstrate at outdoor art shows, sitting on the sidewalk and painting with oil. After seeing a demonstration of “lap painting” by an art league member, she started to dilute the oil with medium to pour it onto the canvas. Now she uses watercolor, ink, or mixed media, and finds herself painting outdoor subjects and abstracts – she still often uses the pour technique. She’s recently moved her art supplies from a well-lit studio in the basement to a large table in the family room – the more convenient to paint whenever she likes.
When she’s not involved in art, she may be reading a James Patterson novel, traveling to the shore with Glenn, or chatting with one of her three children: the oldest son is a gunsmith, the younger is a chemical engineer, and her daughter Kelly has inherited the creative spirit, painting pet portraits on stone when she’s not doing bookkeeping or yoga. Nancy is still an active participant in the Art League, although she’s noticed that “we don’t have as many demonstrators who actually show us their technique,” wistfully recalling a focus on the craft of art. “Now it’s more about showing what the members are doing. There seems to be more focus on promotion.” However, she sees this as a sign of the times, and hopes that the new young blood in the league will keep it going.
Suffice to say, Nancy’s students hope that she keeps going. With her refreshing attitude and wise advice (It’s only paper!), she has inspired generations of artists and remains a key figure in the local art community.
This past weekend was our 50th Anniversary celebration of the West Hills Art League and our Annual Juried Exhibit. What a wonderful weekend it was! It was filled with art, food, coffee, wine, friends, famous artists and socks...yes, socks!
In the fall of 1967, three Moon Township artists Nancy Bush, Thelma Fielder and Nancy Gorr sent out invitations to various local artists with a simple message “Come help us form an art league”. The rest is now history. Though Nancy and Thelma were unable to attend our celebration, Nancy Bush was front and center enjoying the whole weekend.
Special thank you to Nancy, Cindy, Debbie, Sue, Sarah, Janine, Jim, Sandy, Audra and Amy for organizing the party and making sure it all ran smoothly. and finally, each and every member of the West Hills Art League, you truly make it a success! The League would 'sock' without you!
Below are photos from the whole shebang. If you have any more photos you would like to share I will certainly be happy to add them to the slideshow. For now enjoy the following slideshow and don't forget our meeting tomorrow night. Please be prepared to pick up your art as the show is coming down.
What a wonderful year it has been!
Thank you so much to Connie Clutter who gave us a wonderful presentation and demonstration of her water color portrait painting. Connie shared how she came about doing period reenactment portraits and detailed her style and method of portrait painting and was incredibly sharing with her techniques and which materials that she uses.
With her calm happy demeanor It was such a pleasure to watch and learn from such an accomplished artist. She shared stories about how she chooses her models, answered any and all questions we had (we had tons), and didn't hesitate sharing how she uses technology to her advantage including overcoming technical issues. Connie has her new website up and running so please be sure to visit it and maybe buy a print while you're there. If you happened to miss last night's meeting you can learn about Connie on her new website.
Thanks again Connie you are a gem!
Lots of new business was discussed last night as well. Please check out the Prospectus for our Mother's Day show by clicking on Meetings at the top of the page and then selecting Exhibits/Events from the drop down. It contains all of the information that you need for submitting your work including drop off time and cost per entry.
Big news last night was that starting in the fall we will have a new President, a new Vice President and a new person in charge of Membership. Thank you to all who volunteered! It's the people who make our League wonderful and we look forward to the future. More information on this will be in our Newsletter and Minutes from last night's meeting. Stay tuned.
And lastly, if you didn't get your invitation to our 50th Anniversary party last night please let us know and we will get it to you. It is only for members and a guest. Please RSVP as soon as you are able.
Thank you all for making our League such a wonderful organization! I'm proud to be a member.
We are pleased to announce that April's Featured Artist of the Month is Audra Zampogna. Not only is Audra a very skilled painter and all around lovely person, she is also our Treasurer!
Having a family tree studded with artists, Audra couldn't help but grow up with an appreciation for creative arts. Her mother a talented artist who worked for American Greetings and her father a detail-oriented mechanical engineer,
Audra has loved to draw and paint ever since she can remember. In elementary school (in Ohio) she won a regional art competition which awarded her classes to a locally renowned art school in Chagrin Falls, OH.
In high school she had illustrations published in a Lithuanian magazine and while majoring in business at Cleveland State University, she minored in art but put her career on hold to marry and raise six children.
She occasionally tried to paint but was thwarted by little ones constantly bumping the table or nudging her elbow. Moving to Moon in 1991, Audra began to dabble in watercolors again, donating paintings to fundraisers at the former Pleasant View Elementary where the children attended school.
She joined the West Hills Art League in 2001 and has been our treasurer since 2004. With the children grown, Audra is finally able to devote more time to her art career.
Working primarily in watercolor and oils, Audra enjoys landscapes and portraits. She finds inspiration in the beauty of her surroundings as well as in the wonder and curiosity of her grandchildren.
“We've been given the gift of this Life and the Beauty that is all around us. I feel an obligation to contribute to this Creation, to try to express the beauty that I see in even the simplest of things.”
A very special thank you to Leslie Fehling who gave us a wonderful presentation of her art journaling painting style. Leslie discussed why journaling is so attractive to her and how she came about journaling. She provided lots of insight from her experience and travels through discussion and from sharing her actual journals. It was such a pleasure to watch and learn from such a passionate artist. She shared highlights from her many journals and as usual our group asked lots of questions. Leslie also has a few planned trips where she will be teaching about art journaling abroad. If you missed last night's meeting you can learn about Leslie on her website and maybe take one of her classes overseas!. Thanks again Leslie!
At our April 20th meeting we will welcome painter, Connie Clutter. Her presentation will be on portraits of the past. You can read more about Connie by clicking on 'Meeting' at the top of the page or click here.
This month we congratulate Kim Freithaler as our Featured Artist of the Month. Kim is a wonderful painter whose paintings include portraits, animal portraits, landscapes and murals.
Originally from New York City, Kim has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from St. John's University, where she completed an internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has also studied at the Art Students League in Manhattan.
A very special thank you to Kate Koenig who gave us a wonderful demonstration of her hyper realistic acrylic painting style. Kate provided lots of insight from her experience and education which made it such a pleasure to watch and learn. It's always great to hear what experiences and trials working artists go through. If you missed last night's meeting you can learn about Kate on her website and maybe buy a painting or print or coaster. Thanks again Kate!
Mark you calendars for our next meeting, March 16, 2017 where painter Leslie Fehling will present artistic journaling "Everyday Artist Brings Art to Life". Until then you can learn about Leslie at lesliefehling.com.
We are delighted to feature Will White as our Artist of the month. Many of you will recognize Will's whimsical good humored watercolors. We are also fortunate Will has volunteered multiple years to be our recording secretary extraordinaire and is always willing to lend a hand hanging artwork for our exhibits. He's also not afraid to bring a bus load of art lovers to our shows!
Will C. White was a New York ad agency creative director in the era of Woodstock, Andy Warhol and the Beatles. His TV commercials promoted everything from Alka-Seltzer and Triumph sports cars to Texaco and Pampers. He’s toured the country in a motor home, owned classic cars from the 50’s and likes jazz, steam locomotives and genealogy. He’s done illustrations for children’s books and guidebooks, drawn cartoons for magazines, taught computer skills to seniors and art to both adults and children.
Will, who grew up in Ohio, Maryland and North Carolina, lived and commuted to NYC from New Jersey for over 40 years. When he retired, he took up watercolors, a medium he likes for their luminosity, flexibility and minimum mess. His favorite subjects are animals and people, but his style and inspiration tend towards whimsy, surrealism, and magic realism. His art has won awards, he’s been honored with one-man shows, and his paintings are owned by collectors in eleven different states. He has been a member of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh and is currently Secretary of the West Hills Art League.
Will currently lives with his wife in the Masonic Village retirement community in Aleppo.
“I don't paint what I see with my eyes; I paint what I see in my mind, because as much as I may enjoy the beauty or drama of what I behold, I find the products of imagination even more fascinating. To start with a landscape, for instance, and "build" upon it - is my idea of a good time. Sort of like a jazzman riffing on a theme – not simply an "interpretation" or "artistic license," but a brand new concept. And the more unexpected it is, the better. I like the inventions of artists like Magritte and Odd Nerdrum, and I like interacting with the art as it emerges, so what starts out as one idea often evolves into another. In the end, there is no greater delight than to produce something that has no explanation and yet is open to many explanations.”
Our 2nd Annual Artist Sharing and Pot Luck was another great success! It was a meeting filled with learning about each other and meeting our newest members. We got to see and share our current projects. What a great array or talented, interesting people! Thank you all for making our meeting a success. How could I miss pictures of all of the food?!?! I apologize.
Mark you calendars for our next meeting, February 16, 2017 where painter Katie Koenig will present "Realistic Favorites" in acrylic. Until then you can learn about Katie at www.kkoenigart.com.
Hope to see you then!
Keep up-to-date with our latest news, exhibits and event information by checking often.