Expressive Art

NORTHVILLE – Faith LaFountain, 23, of Gloversville laughed, covered her face and blushed Friday as she sat at a table in the center of the Sacandaga Valley Arts Network’s gallery, upstairs in the Northville Public Library.

She had just sold her watercolor painting, “Vase of Flowers” – one of the 24 pieces created by members of Lexington Center’s Creative Expressions program currently on display in the gallery. Just a few minutes earlier, she was pointing to the bright yellows, pinks and purples on the framed canvas.

“Whatever I feel is what I do. It’s kind of like expression. It’s the only way to express my art,” she said.

Her explanation of the piece was what led Katherine Ehle, Lexington’s director of communications, to buy it.

“I admired it when we hung the show, and then hearing her talk about it, [I thought], I need to buy it,” Ehle said.

The show, which opened May 1, will be on display in the gallery through June 30. It’s the second Creative Expressions show with SVAN, and it may become an annual exhibit, according to Brenda Dwyer, Lexington’s environmental and creative arts specialist.

While the show features art of all mediums – from acrylic paints, to markers, to colored pencils – many of the pieces utilize a raised glue technique, Dwyer said. These pieces are destined for an exhibit at Fulton-Montgomery Community College’s Buck Moon Arts Festival, which will take place on the college’s campus in Johnstown on July 12 and 13.

“We felt that we needed a body of work that has some kind of continuity,” Dwyer said. “So we started creating these raised pieces. They’re all different, but they’re all done with the same technique.”

LaFountain is far from the only Creative Expressions artist selling her work. Since the program was established in July 2008, sales of work from its artists have reached roughly $4,000, according to Dwyer.

Dwyer said the sales are split between the artists and a fund set up for the Paul Nigra Center for the Arts, a planned art studio for the Creative Expressions program.

“Some people don’t want any of the proceeds,” Dwyer said. “They want the amount to go to the art center, because we’re really working hard to have a center of our own. We work out of a gym, out of the cafeteria [at Lexington], and some day we hope to have an actual studio where artwork can stay up.”

Creative Expressions offers a variety of recreation activities at Lexington, with about 80 individuals enrolled in the program, according to program manager Mary Orloff. The art classes have about 25 to 30 members, Dwyer said.

“Many of the individuals are exploring new experiences, especially with the art program,” Orloff said. “They may have been exposed to a medium, whereby they can express themselves in ways that were never available to them even in school, where they might use mediums such as pencils and crayons and markers. They’re learning skills with acrylic paints, clay and oil [paints].”

The program has allowed its members to find new ways of expressing themselves. Francis Dempsey, 42, of Mayfield, has an abstract multimedia piece titled “Geometric” in the SVAN show.

“I can see a lot of things in my mind, to read my thoughts, to [create] a [painting] in my imagination,” Dempsey said.

Art from the program has been displayed at FMCC, Lexington, the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce and at galleries throughout the state. A piece by program member Debbie Woodruff, “Star Light,” recently took first place at the 2014 NYSACRA Art Exhibit, held at the Sagamore Hotel in Bolton Landing on April 10. The multi-media work is now part of the SVAN show, displayed prominently in the entryway of the library.

Dwyer said she hopes to eventually commission art for area businesses, as well.

But beyond expression, the program has given its members an opportunity to socialize and make new friends, Orloff said.

“The social interaction that I’ve seen between people who may never have met each other is phenomenal,” she said.

“These are my friends,” Dempsey said. “And that’s what I am now, getting along with other friends, and [showing] respect to other people.”