Walking into the Greenwich House Gallery in a small, but popular, Cincinnati neighborhood now through April 21, 2018, you’ll have the pleasure of viewing 200 impressionist paintings that include portraits, landscapes, and still lifes, in oil, watercolor, and pastel. I happily attended the recent opening of this, the American Impressionist Society 2nd Annual Small Works show, and met some of the featured artists in person.
Prior to the opening, small groups of the artists gathered to either paint the Queen City en plein air, or in a studio setting, where they had a choice of a still life setup or a model. These paintings now hang in a special room of the gallery; they were still wet when the exhibition began.
Although it was chilly as the sun went down, Susan Hong-Sammons graciously stepped outside of the bustling gallery with me to talk about the show and tell me more about her work, which I first saw hanging with the other new works. “I primarily paint figures, but basically I paint anything I find that is beautiful,” Hong-Sammons said, “so it could be a landscape or a still life, but to me the human spirit is really beautiful. It’s colorful, it’s strong, it’s heartbreaking; so I think that’s why I gravitate toward the figure.”
Her portrait called “The Baptist” was sold during this show, which she says she’s thrilled to be a part of because of the wide variety of subjects and media featured. “These are definitely just artists who paint 24/7,” she says. “It’s not like walking into a portrait show or a still life show; it’s everything that deals with art, and how you define art, which is how many different ways?”
When I asked her to tell me how she defines art, she said, “For me, art is about what I find beautiful. A lot of artists will deal with some very profound and meaningful social or political commentary, and I think those works are very, very important, but I like to leave all that angst at the door when I enter my studio, and I want to make something beautiful.”
Anna Mair (co-director of Greenwich House Gallery with Jade Ausdenmoore), tells us that it’s exciting for her gallery to host the AIS show, and to see so much talent in one space. “We have 75 talented artists that we represent here at the gallery, but to see 200 new artists that we’ve never seen before is just amazing.”
Watch a preview of Jeff Legg’s “Cobalt and Cantaloupe” video on how to paint a still life: