220505ind ArtistsCo-op

After a two-year hiatus, the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly’s annual Regional Art Exhibit returned this week with work from artists throughout New England. One of the pieces included in the exhibit is this oil/cold wax piece titled “Challenging Times “ by Diane Brown.

WESTERLY, R.I. — Most exhibitions at the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly only feature work by the co-op’s members — but the gallery’s latest exhibition is expanding its reach to include some of the best work from artists who live throughout the area for its upcoming Regional Art Exhibition.

The co-op invited non-members to submit pieces to the show, meaning anyone who lives in New England — “anybody that can bring their art to our gallery for judging,” said gallery member Kristie Foss — was invited to send in their work.

The show, which the co-op hosts each year, will be presented at its building located at 14 Railroad Ave. in Westerly) from tomorrow through May 29. An “eclectic collection” of works will be on display, Foss said, as the show has no theme and artists are invited to submit pieces from all mediums.

“This show is a much larger and diverse presentation,” said Linda King, a member of the co-op. “It is a showcase for the many talented, creative people that imagine and produce a variety of mediums and genres that the public may not have seen or experienced locally.”

Each year, the co-op’s members choose an external juror to decide which pieces make it into the show. This year their choice was Michael Rose, an art historian who has served as gallery manager of the Providence Art Club since 2014.

“We always get somebody who doesn’t know any of the members, and isn’t somebody that would be biased one way or the other because they know certain people and their work,” Foss said. “We try to have somebody who’s just gonna be looking at it from their own perspective, as opposed to having any sort of pre-judged feeling about what they’re gonna be able to see.”

This week, Rose picked the pieces that will be displayed in the exhibit — and the ones that won prizes. The co-op gives out over $3,000 in awards at the show each year, and the award winners will be announced tomorrow evening during a special opening reception event beginning at 5 p.m.

Foss was among the prize winners in 2019 — the last time the co-op held the regional exhibition, as it was canceled in 2020 and 2021 over lingering restrictions and concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic. She said winning was exciting, but said displaying work in the show is rewarding even without a prize.

“It’s a nice feeling to be with a group of artists that are beyond our own little group,” Foss said. “It’s so interesting to see other art from other artists.”

Co-op member Thomas O’Connell, who was working in the gallery when some of the artists brought their pieces in over the weekend, concurred.

“You’re going to see greater variety, greater depth, work from artists that people may not have seen,” said O’Connell, who submitted his work to the regional art exhibition for the first time this year. “I think it’s a very exciting time for people to get out and see what is being created by artists in the region.”

O’Connell submitted three stained glass pieces to the show, while Foss submitted two necklaces and a porcelain teapot. Though as of Tuesday evening the juror hadn’t decided whether either of their pieces would be accepted to the show, both said they’re excited nonetheless.

Foss said she particularly likes that the range of artists means the show has a different feel than the co-op’s other exhibitions. For example, she said, attendees will likely see a wider variety of scenery paintings, because scenery differs throughout New England and beyond.

“And also seeing how the world looks through different people’s eyes – because each artist interprets what they see through their own lens,” Foss said. “I think it’s just an amazing thing to see.”

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