Tunkhannock – For the artists whose work is currently on display at the historic Dietrich Theater in downtown Tunkhannock, it is evident that nature sparks their creativity.
Through the end of May, the artwork of Dr. Sonji Lee, Amy Griffith Colley, Sue Palackas, Michelle Thomas, Jennifer Sause Brennan, Cheryl Korb, Matthew Howell, Brooke Wandall, and Teall Schoch will be exhibited in the theater’s three galleries.
Interspersed between the art are breathtaking fossils and minerals from Red Barn Rocks Lou Jasikoff and a brass sculpture from Patrick Robinson’s collection.
This Art in Nature exhibit is a collaboration between the Dietrich Theater and Kitson Arts Alliance and was installed by Patrick Robinson and Betsy Green. It is comprised of oil paintings, watercolor, book making, sculptures, mixed media pieces- many of which are composed of natural elements, and more.
When asked about the exhibit, Patrick Robinson of Kitson Arts Alliance said, “Being in the art and antique business now for over 31 years, it never gets dull seeing the work of artisans. Kitson Arts Alliance partners with artists from all over the U.S., 8 countries and most importantly all of the local ones from northeastern Pennsylvania, such as the artists in our exhibit at the Dietrich Theater. A beautiful aspect of this exhibit is the ‘nature’ created pieces such as the fish and squid fossils and purple amethyst all brought to us by Lou Jasikoff of Red Barn Rocks in Factoryville.”
The following are the backgrounds of each artist featured in the exhibit and reflections on their work and inspirations:
According to Dr. Sonji Lee, “As a very young child, I spent as many hours outdoors as possible. It was my happy place in a not so happy existence and during my wanderings I fell deeply in love with nature. My art evolves from this enduring love and respect. Albert Einstein said, ‘Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.’
“As I seek understanding, I am compelled to create art, honoring a strong connection with nature. The art is encaustics and mixed media using reclaimed wood of hemlock, birch, cherry, ash, and walnut trees. I also use Pennsylvania bluestone and my love of stone and wood is the foundation of my works. These great treasures are given to me by friends and family, each supporting my efforts, creating a community, enhancing my passion. Bark, dried “weeds”, flowers, leaves, wood chips, sawdust, sand, stone and coal are just some of the natural elements that I incorporate in to each piece.
“Stewardship of land is of the utmost importance as I reclaim the natural objects in my art. The majority of the natural objects that I use are collected on my daily hikes. It is my hope that my art will inspire others to seek answers through a deep and loving appreciation of nature.”
Dietrich Theater art instructor Amy Griffith Colley’s oil paintings of flora, landscapes and still lifes are part of the Art in Nature exhibit.
Colley is a graduate of Swain School of Design in New Bedford, Mass., where she received a BFA. Colley received a Helena Rubenstein scholarship to attend Parsons School of Design where she completed her graduate studies and earned an MFA. She has exhibited in numerous group exhibitions in Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York and Nebraska and has many of her works in private collections in the U.S. and abroad.
During the summer of 1994 Amy Colley’s works were included in a traveling exhibit in Takasaki, Japan. In 1996 she was included in the “Accents on Artists,” an art reference guide book to top names of the world of fine arts published by Art’N Facts. The book is being sold in museum shops worldwide.
Amy Colley’s art work was selected for the cover of the book. Together with her husband artist Stephen Colley, the Colley’s opened The Colley Studio of Fine Arts in 1992 in Scranton and Waverly, where they have offered classes in drawing, painting, sculpture and pottery for all ages.in 1996 the Colley’s were awarded the Belin Scholarship to enhance the art programs they were offering to the community.
Amy Colley is one of the founders and directors of “Camp Create”, an art and theater camp for children with special needs. This year marks the 20th year of Camp Create. Sue Palackas began pursuing her interest in painting in 2008, when her husband gave her watercolor classes as a retirement gift.
Since then her joy of painting has led her to be involved with art organizations wherever she has lived. At present she is a member of the Monday Plein Air Painters of Tunkhannock PA., the Kitson Art Alliance of Tunkhannock, the Art League of Daytona, Florida, and the Slanted Art Coop of Montrose. Since she began painting she has enjoyed classes of all kinds offered by many talented artists, and she’s always looking for new classes and challenges. Sue shares, “As I grow as an artist I find that I’m doing fewer realistic paintings and am learning to represent realistic things in an abstract way. I’m amazed at what happens when I use color and form in an intuitive way rather than reproducing what I see realistically. It frees my creative processes and brings forth emotions and feelings. I continue to enjoy my Plein Air painting, attempting to become looser with my watercolors and freer with my representation of the world around me. My goal is to have my art bring out an emotion in you.”
Michelle Thomas began her formal art education at Keystone College in LaPlume, Pa in the late 70s.
Since then her art has grown and developed through various workshops. Thomas said, “Learning from fellow artists has been invaluable. I’ve participated in group and juried shows at the Endless Mountains Council on the Arts, the Wyoming County Courthouse, the AFA Gallery in Scranton, the Wyoming Valley Art League in Wilkes-Barre, and more recently at the Salmagundi in New York City with the Society of Painters in Casein and Acrylic as well at The Art of the State in Harrisburg.
“Recently I have partnered with Jan Henning and Sheldon Kukuchka to offer Creative New Beginnings, an after-loss instruction class. Classes will resume when it is safe to do so in light of recent increase in Covid.” Thomas’ studio is located at 159 West Tioga Street in Tunkhannock.
Jennifer Sause Brennan is an accomplished sculptor. Growing up in Hyde Park New York, she was both inspired by animals and at times horrified by the treatment of some. At an early age, she started studying animals and also began rescuing them. With the recent rescue of two neglected Paso Fino retired show horses and driven to cover their costs, Jennifer discovered a natural talent and joy of sculpting. Using a unique clay material of her own creation, she found herself selling sculptures at local craft fairs. Brennan is a member of Kitson Arts Alliance. She continues to evolve in her sculpting and continues to show her work at a variety of galleries and fairs.
Cheryl Korb, is a native Pennsylvanian and lives where she grew up. After raising three children and stealing some time for painting when she could, Korb now paints full time. She gravitates to painting country scenes, using the countryside around where she lives as natural inspiration.
When asked about her process, Korb said, “When starting a painting, I choose a season in my head and go from there. I use a limited palette and the painting just grows with a life of its own. I love to paint mountains in the background, then many distant fields and woods and farms tucked into hills and valleys. As the painting progresses and the objects get closer, I go into more detail. Milk cows and horses and pigs and chickens and sheep, they are my favorites. Sizes vary from miniature to panoramic.”
Woodcarver Matthew Howell attributes the lackadaisical pace of fishing for helping to give birth to the artwork that earned best of show honors at 2019’s Fine Arts Fiesta. A Wilkes-Barre resident, Howell picked up wood carving after whittling a figure of a man’s head during a fishing trip. Another fisherman liked it. He bought the piece from Howell, who kept up his new hobby.
In 2018, the fiesta jury chose several of his pieces for the first time, and in 2019 his piece, “Tramp Art Bird Box” took top honors. “I never imagined it,” he said. “I was happy last year just to get something accepted. It’s hard to get a piece of art work accepted, let alone a couple of pieces, so I’m really, really thrilled.”
The winning artwork is a combination of tramp art — a style named for the hobos who sometimes practiced it in the 20th century — and German folk art. Whimsical birds perch on a multi-layered box stamped with geometric patterns, leaves and berry. His work is made of old wood from houses around Luzerne County.
Howell’s brother-in-law owns Schappert Construction, so when they get a remodeling job, he asks for the wood that’s taken out. It’s a good deal for Howell because buying a piece of kiln-dried wood large enough to make some of his pieces could cost close to $100, and this method is a way of recycling wood that might be headed for a dumpster or fire without him. Plus, it’s imbued with good karma. Think of the decades of people who broke bread over that wood. “That still lives on,” he said. His Facebook page “Bad Buddy Carvings” shows more of his work.
Brooke Wandall is a local artist with a unique style, combining the abstract with a touch of realism. She draws in those who view her work with a brilliant and intelligent color pallet. Wandall graduated from Marywood University in 2007 with a BFA in Fine Art, receiving the Saint Luke Medal for Excellence in Art. Her work was featured in the film The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby and in the tutorial art book by Carrie Schmidt, Painted Blossoms. One can view Brook’s work at https://brookewandall.com/, Facebook and Etsy.
Teall Schoch is a northeastern Pennsylvania book artist. Her work is inspired by the nature around her, from the rocks on the ground to the leaves on the trees and everything in between. She is known for her larger tree book installations which she has had the honor of showcasing in several galleries in the area.
Schoch continues to stretch the limits of what is considered to be art and connect the beauty of nature to anyone who views her work.
This Art in Nature exhibit can be viewed through the end of May during scheduled movie times or by appointment. For the health and safety of our staff and patrons, mask wearing is required when entering and while moving about the theater.