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Paintings by Local Artists and Students In Charter School’s First Show

LADY OF LEGEND: This 24” x 36” oil on canvas, “Queen Maeve,” by artist Rita Stynes Strow, depicts the legendary Queen of Connacht who, according to Irish lore, initiated the Táin Bó Cúailnge, The Cattle Raid of Cooley. Part of the Ulster Cycle, the story is an epic tale of war involving the theft of the King of Ulster’s prize bull and the youthful exploits of the hero Cú Chulainn. The painting and others by Ms. Stynes Strow will be on show in the gallery of the Princeton Charter School, 100 Bunn Drive, from March 7 through March 22.

LADY OF LEGEND: This 24” x 36” oil on canvas, “Queen Maeve,” by artist Rita Stynes Strow, depicts the legendary Queen of Connacht who, according to Irish lore, initiated the Táin Bó Cúailnge, The Cattle Raid of Cooley. Part of the Ulster Cycle, the story is an epic tale of war involving the theft of the King of Ulster’s prize bull and the youthful exploits of the hero Cú Chulainn. The painting and others by Ms. Stynes Strow will be on show in the gallery of the Princeton Charter School, 100 Bunn Drive, from March 7 through March 22.

Rita Stynes Strow has been painting since “time immemorial,” laughs the former art teacher who lives in Kingston. Inspired by her own Irish origins and tales from the Bible and Celtic mythology, Ms. Stynes Strow works magic in oil and canvas.

Her lively and colorful work will be among those shown in an upcoming exhibition at the Princeton Charter School (PCS). The exhibition is to be the first of a series of annual art shows featuring the work of local artists as well as paintings by Charter School students. It opens with a a vernissage or opening reception next Thursday, March 7 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and continues through March 22.

In addition to several canvases by Ms. Stynes Strow, works by Catherine Arnoux, Heather Barros, Jean Becette, Mojgan Salehi, and Jannick Wildberg will be on display

The work featured has been chosen to represent different styles and methods. The idea is to emphasize the importance of artistic individuality and subjectivity to the school’s students. “We wanted to bring local artists to the campus and involve our students from kindergarten through eighth grade,” says Amanda Castner, the PCS art teacher for the school’s 348 students, 100 of whom are participating with the artists.

Ms. Stynes Strow, who has two grandchildren at PCS, Zoe and Cassian Obierne, was delighted to be asked to participate in the exhibition. Her oil paintings, she says, strive to evoke the historic and the mysterious emotions of the Celtic people. “The traditional knot work I use has the inherent strength of design well suited to this goal,” she says.

Using acrylics, Catherine Arnoux seeks to reproduce the colors of nature or invent colors of her own. Unlike the illustrative paintings by Ms. Stynes Strow, Ms. Arnoux’s work is abstract. Both artists, however, began painting at a young age. Ms. Arnoux still has her very first paint box, bought in the Quartier Latin in Paris when she was 12-years-old. “My grandmother always had dahlias in her garden and I was amazed by their colors and their intricate patterns, especially the heart of the flower,” Ms. Arnoux recalls. “For me, painting is more about showing colors, either reproducing the ones nature decides for us, or inventing the ones we decide to master in an abstract painting. But always, you mix it and it suddenly appears on the canvas as magic.”

Flowers also provide inspiration for Mojgan Salehi, who moved toward art at an early age as well. The artist describes art as a “magical process” she uses to express her love of gardening and flowers. “Painting is my key to the secret garden, my way down the rabbit hole, my looking glass,” she says. “It fills me with a sense of accomplishment and integrity, and has proven to be a most amenable vehicle for translating inner vision to outer reality.”

Through mixed media including including charcoal, oil, ink, and clay, Heather Barros creates landscapes, portraits, and still lifes. Besides being a working artist, Ms. Barros is an accomplished teacher, running her own art school, Art Collaborations, at Princeton Academy.

Before moving to Brittany, Jean Becette taught art for four years at the Princeton Junior School and for 12 years at the Princeton Friends School. In France, he paints the lush seascapes of the Cotes d’Armor (formerly known as the Côtes-du-Nord on Brittany’s north coast).

Jannick Wildberg creates abstract paintings in oil, plaster, fabric, and pigments to create texture and evoke the elements of nature. Her realistic portraits are intended to capture the physical uniqueness of her subjects while representing the inherent energy and vibrancy of life inherent in each. Ms. Wildberg says of her art that it “springs from a desire to communicate about the intense experience of being in this world, about our need to slow it down perhaps, or to gather ourselves and seek tranquility.”

Besides large-scale oil portraits, the exhibition includes abstract works by Ms. Wildberg, who uses plaster, fabric, and pigments to create texture and to engage on a more visceral level.

Besides the eclectic artworks on view by these adult artists, the PCS exhibition will also include work by Princeton Charter students who collaborated with Ms. Barros and Mr. Becette.

The public is invited to attend the opening reception at which light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact PCS art teacher Amanda Castner at (856) 217-4922 or acastner@princetoncharter.org.

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