Sometimes a vacation turns into something so much more. Last May, a group of about 50 mostly Berkshire County folks visited Ireland with Kevin O’Hara, author of “Last of the Donkey Pilgrims”. No one knew that there were 4 artists in the group. Only two were acquainted with each other, but soon after arriving at their destination, they all met and as artists will do, discussed the stunning paintings they all hoped to create once they returned home. And that is how the “Travels with Missie – the Artists’ View” was conceived.
Pittsfield, MA, February 15, 2015 — An art show featuring dozens of new works inspired by contemporary Berkshires writer Kevin O’Hara opens on Saturday March 14 at the St. Francis Gallery in South Lee, Mass. “Travels with Missie – the Artists’ View” presents paintings by four artists from Berkshire County: Marguerite Bride, Susan Edwards, David King, and Scott Taylor, who traveled to Ireland in May 2014. The artists were among some 50 travelers who followed the magical trail set by O’Hara in his 1979 journey with Missie the donkey, as documented in his book “Last of the Donkey Pilgrims”.
Their memories and views are captured in their paintings, all to be seen for the first time in this exhibit, on display March 14 – April 12. As the historical basis for the 2014 itinerary, some of O’Hara’s photographs and memorabilia from the trek in 1979 will also be on display.
A festive opening reception will be held at the gallery on Saturday March 14 from 2 – 6pm complete with Irish refreshments and music. In addition, during the opening, O’Hara will read from his book and share some stories of his adventures with Missie –and also with the artists last May. A stunning carving of the donkey by Susan Edwards, which will become part of the Berkshire Carousel, will be present, as will a life-size straw effigy of Missie the Donkey created by Mike Melle of Plainfield.
There probably could not be a more different group of artists displaying their work in this exhibit, which will feature many different sizes, styles and mediums, from watercolors to oils to acrylics, plus sculpture and photography. There will be approximately 25-30 Irish-themed original works by these 5 artists on display during this exhibit. There will also be a limited number of fine art reproductions of the artists’ pieces available.
Marguerite Bride, a Berkshire resident for the past 20 years, paints primarily in watercolor, but with a twist. Many of her pieces are watercolor on canvas, quite different from her usual paintings on paper, (although there will be some of those too). A lover of all things architectural, you will see buildings and bicycles, and maybe a sheep or two. Bride has a studio on North Street in Pittsfield.
A resident of Windsor for 42 years, Susan Edwards, who is “semi-retired”, is a Fine Artist and Graphic Designer who worked in the publishing and printing fields for 20 years and presently creates art from Windrush Studio located at her home. Edwards began her career in Boston as a commercial art student at Butera School of Art. Her mediums include oil, pastel, watercolor, and acrylic with a concentration in oil and pastel. Edwards is also the designer and carver of the Missie carousel donkey that will be on display at the gallery.
David King, a Pittsfield resident, has been painting in both oils and watercolors as a hobby for over 40 years. David majored in Fine Arts at Berkshire Community College for two and a half years but changed careers after completing four and a half years of service in the Air Force. He currently works for Guardian Life Insurance but spends much of his free time painting. He is one of the contributing artists of the Berkshire Carousel. A student of the Gloria Malcolm Arnold studio, expect to see stunning detail and vivid color in his depiction of Ireland.
A lifelong Pittsfield resident, Scott Taylor paints in acrylic with vivid colors bringing emotion and contemplation to his paintings. “The landscape and old structures of the Emerald Isle provided me with more than enough creative opportunities for this show. The difficulty came when selecting just what to include. I could paint Ireland ‘til my dying days and still have leftovers! “
The artists painted their works without the influence of one another which makes it a varied and personal show. In addition to their own personal scenes, each artist painted one scene based upon a specific scene that Kevin O’Hara provided, and which he will discuss at the opening.
St. Francis Gallery is located on Rt 102, in South Lee just 2 miles east from the Red Lion Inn. Gallery hours: Friday through Monday 10am – 5 pm.