When the Hernando County Arts Council and the Brooksville Art Gallery At 201 asked area artists to answer the question, “What is precious to you?” they answered en masse—producing vibrant and beautiful images as diverse as adorable teddy bears and skulls filled with roses, dragons and dolphins, ebullient landscapes and loving portraits of children and grandchildren.
The “Precious Things” art exhibit will debut at the Brooksville Gallery at 201, 201 Howell Ave., Brooksville, on Friday, January 26 from 6 p.m.–8 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided at this gala event, which is free and open to the public.
An event notice stated, “’Precious Things’ invites artists to unveil the unsung heroes, the quiet moments, and the unconventional treasures that make their world uniquely theirs. Elevate the every day to the extraordinary by portraying a narrative that goes beyond the surface. Celebrate the uncommon and unique moments, things, people, and places that hold a precious place in our hearts.”
Pedram Moghaddam, director of Gallery 201, searched far and wide for a vast assortment of beautiful, thought-provoking pieces for this show. “In addition to the submissions I received, I visited art walks, galleries, studios,” he said. “I sought out all different varieties of art and artists for the show.”
The search proved most fruitful, said Moghaddam. “Fibers. sculptures, student art, dioramas, pencils, charcoal, jewel art, digital art, graphite, photos, colored pencils, watercolors, oils and porcelain button art. These are pieces with a lot of color,” he continued.
For her “Precious Things” submission, Susan Lumsden created a highly personalized work of fiber art that shines in its sentiment. “This piece was made as an anniversary gift for my husband when we had been married 35 years. I have been an avid textile artist for many years, mostly creating art quilts. I just loved the vision of unzipping my dress. It was so romantic. I actually used dress fabrication techniques to make the dress portion, with a real zipper. The background and skin tones are hand-dyed silk. It is quilted using the marks stamped on the back of the quilt to guide my stitching,” she said.”We have now been married for 53 years. I am still an avid textile artist. Currently, 11 of my art quilts are hanging in the Ageing Well Center in Clearwater. That exhibition will remain up until the end of March.”
Sylvia Liszka Durell crafted an emotional, greatly personal work for her exhibit contribution. She explained, “I was inspired to paint a trio of paintings of early steel production as a tribute to my father, Edward Liszka…a steel mill worker in Pittsburgh. He had a heart attack at the mill in January 1953. He died later that day at home. He left a wife and six kids. I was only three-and-one-half years old, so I don’t have any memories of steel mills and the workers of that period. And, the photos and videos I found of scenes from seven decades ago were in black and white. I wanted to depict the consuming heat from the fires of steel-making work so I used more current references to the fires when I began my first painting, ‘Molten Metal at Steel Plant.’
I added the spirit of my father in the second painting, ‘Open Hearth Gang.’ The third painting ‘Slag Dump’ was important for me to do because I walked across the slag dump near our house in Pittsburgh to go to kindergarten.”
Christine Weeks’ dual submissions stand as a tribute to her daughter. “I actually submitted two large 4’x5’ canvases–my daughter was the inspiration for both pieces. Her presence is definitely one of my most “precious things” in life. The canvas of her walking away down a path of sunflowers at Sweetfields Farm titled “All who wander are not lost” was from an outing we had during the pandemic. The farm opened to a few people to pick sunflowers in the fresh air. What a blessing to be able to have an outing when the world was shut down finally. The other canvas with her hand raised in the air surrounded by yellow Sunn Hemp flowers at Beasley Farms is titled “Captured by the Moment”. All of my children took me to the farm for my birthday last fall. Seeing myself in my daughter how she was “captured by the moment” taking in all of Nature’s blessings. This represents a few very precious things in my life. The celebration of another trip around the sun for me, the beautiful day outside and enjoying the simple things with my very precious daughter,” Weeks shared.
Cassiopeia (Carol) Ruzicka is contributing some mystical, whimsical literary art to the exhibit. “The two colored pencil drawings are original children’s book illustrations,” she said. “I have a pencil sketch of a full-page spread for that same book that I am planning to finish coloring. The other, World Species One, is one of several I started in 2023 for a show I hope to have ASAP.”
Kathy Schemmel, also president of the Brooksville Garden Club, drew from a natural source of inspiration for her “Precious Things” paintings. Schemmel shared, “My precious things are trees. I submitted three paintings of trees, but the one that best personifies why they are precious is the one entitled, ‘Hidden Strength.’ There is so much more to a tree’s value than meets the eye. They are homes to many insects, birds, and animals even after they die. They give us precious oxygen that we all require to live. The world needs more of them. Be a ‘tree hugger!’”
Ro Martinez Rimes drew upon her love for friends and family as she submitted a body of custom-curated artwork to the Precious Things exhibit. “In this crazy world we live in, family and friends are absolutely the most precious to me, more valuable than anything else. One: ‘Land of The Free II,’ 24×24 (patriotic art, eagle and American flag). My husband is an Army veteran and my most precious gift. I appreciate his service and the service of many who have lost their limb or lives to protect America. Two: ‘Ionic Reaction,’ 24×24 (black, grey, red linear op-art). My family and friends are all interconnected. Three: ‘It Takes a Village,’ 24×36 (black lines, red hearts). My son is so very precious to me, he has grown into an incredible adult. When we mentor a child our hearts become full of love and joy. This is what the colorful inner heart signifies.”
Jana Withers, an avid collector of the adorable Boyds Bears series of stuffed teddy bears and related figurines, cites these terrific teddies and other popular toys as models for her precious creations.
“’Travis B. Bean’ is the title given to the bear painting and Travis is one of many Bears and Hares in the Boyds Collectibles. I view all of them in my collection as precious, but Travis is my favorite,” she said. “He is poseable and has often been placed throughout our home reading books. When participating in a 30-day Strada easel event and a painting a day from life was required, Travis was my first choice.”
Maritza Gutierrez evokes emotions of peace and serenity, not to mention the appreciation of ethereal beauty, to bring us “Precious Serenity” and “Precious Butterfly.”
“In ‘Precious Serenity,’ I find beautiful calm clear turquoise waters to be a very peaceful setting. This is one of the reasons I enjoy the precious Florida Gulf Coast,” she said. “In ‘Precious Butterfly’ this piece shows the gentle and fragile nature of butterflies. They are a precious being and a delight to see.”
In forming the substance of her “Precious Things” submission, Dana Donkle created the image of a tropical octopus garden on canvas. “All three of these works have the subject of an octopus—something I find to be an unconventional ‘precious thing,” she said. “I have had an affinity for octopuses since working at an aquarium with a Giant Pacific Octopus. I was able to feed the octopus and experience the wonders of its strange muscular arms with dozens of suction cups that would grab onto my fingertips holding the food. My fascination with this creature has developed into my art business ‘Octopus Garden Art’ where I paint a variety of surreal natural themes with a center around octopuses. I commonly combine the creature with flowers to juxtapose the unfamiliar allure of the cephalopod with the conventional beauty of flora. I find their ability to change colors, shapes, and textures a forever inspiring muse and a precious treasure in our sea.”
In curating their own “Precious Things” submissions, married artists Brandt and Hedy Emerson grant viewers a keen insight into some of the most treasured objects and elements in their lives.
“I have two pieces in the show and Hedy has one. My watercolor titled “Delightful Poppies” is a rather loose rendering of poppies, colored blue. I wanted something a bit different than the actual colors of the flowers,” said Brandt Emerson. “The work titled “Treasured Box” is a wooden box with a glass viewing panel on the top, designed to hold special treasured items. I cut down an old oak tree that was on its last legs and used a sawmill to turn part of the trunk into boards. Then, used the wood to create the box. With the oak tree being rather old, the wood grain has many colorful imperfections which I utilized as a feature to make it more interesting.”
“Hedy’s submission is called ‘Vintage Baby,’ he continued. “It is a life-sized porcelain and cloth sleeping doll. It is clothed in light blue overalls embroidered with a tiny yellow duck on the bib, with a white shirt underneath. She has been an original doll artist for many years with this being her most recent one.”
Pedram asked Hedy to carry over the display of her ceramic pair of hands titled “My Hand in His, Finally Together” from the previous show “Meeting of the Minds.” The hands are made of high-fire clay and are life-size and were used to advertise the new exhibition.