Art can bring people from all walks of life together. Sometimes this connection can create strong friendships. When the connection is strong enough, an entire movement, cooperative, or gallery can even be formed.
This is what happened for the six women who formed Gallery Citrine in 2019. Coming from wildly different non-artistic careers such as finance, education, and human services, the women bonded over the joys and struggles of creating art and growing as artists.
Gallery Citrine is a cooperative where new and veteran artists can work and display their work.
“Artists only need a few things to really be happy,” says founding member Meroe Wheatley. “First, they need to be making art and feeling like they are working toward making the best art they can. Second, they need to have a space to share their art with others. We’re hoping to support both established and emerging artists by providing a curated gallery which gives them a place to share their art with the community in a professional way.”
The beautiful space on South 2nd Street in Wilmington’s historic downtown acts as a gallery and showroom — currently displaying the cooperative’s fall show, titled “Harvest Tide” — and a working studio for 10 artists. The building was renovated by Donna Launey and her husband, Patrick Tester, and now the light-filled gallery shines just like a citrine (a transparent, yellow variety of quartz).
Like many of us, the folks at Gallery Citrine made optimistic plans in 2019 that had to be postponed in 2020.
“One of the original concepts of Citrine was to have workshops and classes, which of course have been tabled because of the COVID-19 crisis,” Wheatley says. “On top of that, a number of local shows such as the Azalea Festival art show, the Landfall art show, and the Art in the Garden show at the Arboretum have been canceled or are only being done online, which has significantly changed the opportunity for in-person artist exposure.”
The gallery is creating a schedule of juried theme shows to help provide actual gallery exposure opportunities that so many artists have been missing this year.
“Our first show is Harvest Tide, which began in early September and will run through the holiday season,” Wheatley says. “The co-op jury committee has chosen 25 works from 16 different artists, some established and some emerging, to showcase the changes autumn brings here on the Carolina coast.”
Here’s a sneak peek at some of the original art on display at Harvest Tide.
by Sabine Baeckmann, 11 x 14 inches, watercolor on paper.
This stunning watercolor by Sabine Baeckmann captures the beautiful stillness of mornings on the Carolina coast. The various tones of gray make viewers feel as if they are standing on the soft sand, looking out at a barrier island as the world slowly begins to form with the new light of day. Although the tones of the beachside fauna may be changing with the seasons, there are still plenty of colors to be seen, reminding viewers that fall in the South is a beautiful thing indeed.
Baeckmann has been making art for over 40 years. She’s an experienced medical and scientific illustrator and has worked in pharmaceutical advertising, design and marketing. Born in Germany, Baeckmann studied and worked in New York before moving with her family in 2002 to Pagosa Springs, Colorado, where she studied under Pierre Mion, a renowned National Geographic illustrator who worked with Norman Rockwell. Baeckmann now lives in North Carolina where she works as a freelance designer and teaches art privately. She participates in such exhibits as the Wilmington Art Association Annual Juried Show, Airlie Gardens HeART of the Gardens project, and the annual Art in the Arboretum exhibit.
Changing Tides, Changing Seasons
by Michael Payne , 11 x 12 inches, oil on canvas.
One can almost hear the sounds of crickets and splashing water when looking at Michael Payne’s “Changing Tides, Changing Seasons.” It perfectly captures the marshy waterways that help add to the unique beauty of North Carolina.
The generous autumnal palette gives the viewer a beautiful landscape to explore. The wide Carolina sky is only hinted at in the frame but is reflected in the beautiful, swampy waters.
“We are lucky enough to live on a tidal creek and every day I look out over the marsh and watch how the landscape changes with every season and changing tide,” Payne says. “It sometimes seems impossible to capture on canvas but it is always fun to try.”
Payne spent much of the past 30 years working for the federal government. He has been painting off-and-on for his entire life, but it wasn’t until retirement that he set up his makeshift studio in his garage and spent some serious time working on his craft. Neighbors can often find him there with the garage door open, working on multiple canvases at a time.
“It was a great way to get to know your neighbors,” he says.
Payne moved to Wilmington from Washington, D.C. in 2017. His work has been accepted at the 2019 and 2020 Azalea Festival, and the 2019 Art in the Arboretum show.
Don’t Miss A Thing
by Liz Hosier, 30 x 24 inches, mixed media on canvas.
“Don’t Miss a Thing” is certainly the most unique and abstract piece in the show, but its vibrant colors and energy still capture the feelings of fall and make it a perfect fit. The viewer is cascaded by a variety of shapes that evoke falling leaves, the swirls on the clouds in the darkening and shadowy skies or the ripples of light against the water reflected on the shores of the sound.
Liz Hosier grew up outside Asheville, surrounded by art, mountains and forests. Hosier says she has always had a strong connection to nature and that connection shows through in her art.
“I was fortunate to have had teachers who recognized and nurtured my interest in art throughout my early education,” she says.
While working in the information technology field, Hosier began to study art history and studio art at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Like many artists, Hosier began to seriously pursue a regular practice after retirement. She now works as a teaching artist in the museum school at the Cameron Art Museum and is a member of the Diverse Works Art Group in Wilmington.
by Janet Sessoms, 9 x 12 inches, oil on panel.
As the weather cools down in fall, we are given plenty of warm moments with our family and friends. Janet Sessoms captures the many temperatures of the season perfectly with “Purple Cabbages.” The warm and firelike hues of red, orange and yellow pop against the intricate designs and cool shades of indigo, green, and blue in the cabbages.
Sessoms has always had a passion for art but put her paintings away at the age of 10. Later, after earning her degree in art education, she discovered the joy of working with children and helping them express themselves through art.
She spent 22 years teaching art to students at the middle school and elementary levels, including a stint at Wrightsville Beach Elementary.
“Retirement age arrived and with it, God provided me the time, place, and people to encourage exploration of my creative self once again,” Sessoms says. “Life is good!”
Ripe for Harvest
by Chris Bloom, 12 x 16 inches, oil on panel.
The fun, improvisational and impressionist style of “Ripe for Harvest” has a lot to give considering the subject is something so small and specific. No detail is spared in the unique abstract swirls of each leaf, or the mouthwatering and masterful lightwork on the reflection of the apple. The painting evokes nostalgic memories of heading out to the orchard to pick a few apples for a delicious pie.
Chris Bloom describes herself as a contemporary impressionist oil painter.
“I have had a lifelong appreciation for art and was inspired to begin a second career in fine art by Carolyn Mortimer, an outstanding educator and artist from New Jersey,” she says.
Bloom, who took art courses at Cape Fear Community College for three years, has participated in such events as the Wilmington Paint Out, the Wrightsville Beach Paint Out, and the Southport Paint Out. Her paintings have been juried into the Wilmington Art Association’s Annual Art show since 2016.
“I was also awarded a regional artist grant from the Arts Council of Wilmington and the North Carolina Council of the Arts in 2017,” she says. “The biggest move in my art career was getting a studio at the Artworks in Wilmington. I love to meet art lovers who visit during our 4th Friday event or any Friday or Saturday.”