‘A sizzling collections of paintings…Titillating nudes and glowing portraits will draw you in to their world. Ripe landscapes, sexy cars, and provocative abstract colors and textures will tease your eye and fire your emotions.” So reads the press statement for the ready made for Valentine’s Day group show, “Passions,” opening with a reception on Saturday, February 10, at the Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville, coinciding with Second Saturdays in Lambertville and New Hope, a monthly extravaganza in which stores, galleries, boutiques, and restaurants offer a little something special to entice visitors.

Stacie Speer Scott has been with the Artists’ Gallery, established in 1996 as an artists’ cooperative, since its inception. She explains that the gallery runs groups shows During other months the gallery focuses on two members at a time in the large front room, yet examples of the other members may still be seen in the more modest back rooms. “Passions” will be the last group exhibit for the season.

She is a big collector of papers and fabrics, which she incorporates into her work. The Passions exhibit will include her piece entitled “Rue Berri,” a collage incorporating a postcard from Paris, a black and white image of an early burlesque with fan whose form is reflected in an assemblaged, half tin can lid (a nod to Robert Rauschenberg).

A full-time artist, Speer Scott has lived in Bucks County for the last 25 years, the last 12 of those in Buckingham. She considers herself a self-taught artist, working in mixed-media, especially painting, drawing, and collage. Her father was an insurance professional. She credits her artistic talent and interest to her mother, who, she says, “has always been extremely artistic in many ways,” and encouraged her in the arts as a child. In addition to Rauschenberg, Speer Scott has a definite fondness for the work of Louise Nevelson as well as modern dance and music.

“It’s all about the process,” she says of her work. “Watercolor is usually first, then collage, then I draw into it and then paint with acrylic or oil. And then I begin the process of adding and subtracting elements.” These various techniques and applications offer the possibility of myriad textures and references. As they look at her work, Speer Scott intends for viewers to see that “from a distance the pieces work as total items, but up close you see a lot of bits and pieces, hopefully incorporated successfully into the total.”

J. Stacy Rogers is a newer member of the gallery, having joined the cooperative in October, 2006. He already considers the gallery “a great resource, not just a venue to show art.” He says the members are “a really exciting mix of abstract, modernist, and traditional realist” working in different media: oil, acrylic, digital, watercolor, photography, and even glass sculpture.

He says “Passions” is right up his alley. Born in Trenton, Rogers earned a BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art in 1971, and started his career in the illustration field. He then moved into graphic design, then advertising, before finally settling his voice in painting. He began painting commissioned portraits, gaining commissions through word of mouth until he moved to Lambertville in 2005 and began to be known more publicly, thanks to various shows and awards. Rogers recently received the prestigious Coryell Gallery Award.

Roger’s passion is definitely his subject, whomever that may be. Though he prefers to work from life, he says “most people don’t want to sit still as long as I need them to.” A typical 24” x 30” portrait can take up to four weeks to complete. Instead of depending on live modeling, Rogers has come up with a system that incorporates photography. He does not simply take a snapshot of his subject’s likeness, however, but visits the subject multiple times, trying “to get some familiarity with the person and assess their temperament, what their interests are, and what kind of home they keep.” All of this information sets up a story for this person, and then Rogers will orchestrate a very particular photo to be taken. Upon mutual agreement of the photo/image, Rogers begins, first with a live sitting to set the overall composition sketch, skin tone, and painting tonality, “From there,” he says, “it’s OK to work from the photograph.”

Visitors to the “Passions” exhibit will see Roger’s pieces titled “Thoughtful” and “Gaze,” two sensual, head and shoulders views of two women, which reveal his traditional, draftsman abilities as well as his ability to, as Rogers says, “give the painting life with brush strokes. The brush strokes are seen; I use brush strokes to give more character — they are not hidden like a total classicist.”

Longtime Artists’ Gallery member Taylor Oughton, 81, recently had seven paintings hand-picked into the permanent collection at the Michener Art Museum. A resident of Jameson, PA, Oughton spent 45 years of his life as an illustrator, especially of wildlife, and even now will “get away with sneaking animals into landscapes every once in awhile,” he says.

After speaking with him for a short while, it is clear that what fuels him is the act of seeing and creating art itself. He says “drawing is an adventure, not the past — now is much more important than the past. We do want to be heard, and we do want to be seen.” When Oughton goes out into the field to paint, he does not go with a specific subject in mind. “You do not go out and look for a particular thing. You just look and something will look at you; something wants to be seen.”

Oughton will be represented in the “Passions” exhibit with “New Day,” a beautiful, lifelike rendering of a bridge, which was near a house he once lived in.

Gail Bracegirdle has been a member of the Artists’ Gallery for close to a decade. A fulltime artist, she received a BFA from the Moore College of Art in Philadelphia in 1965. She was a textile designer for 20 years before going into the fine arts as a watercolorist. “I knew I wanted to print,” she says of her past, “and textiles would be a way to have a profession — earn a living as a decorative artist. In the ’90s I decided to do watercolors on my own. The textile industry was changing. My partner and I moved, and it was just a good cut-off point to try something different.”

As her “Passion,” Bracegirdle chose food. “So many things we eat are so beautiful.” A constant experimenter, she produces watercolor mono-prints as an innovative process, as well as adhering to the traditional applications.

Visitors to the exhibit will see Bracegirdle’s watercolor representations of sushi, and the common Peeps, those yellow marshmallow chicks. Bracegirdle’s depiction of common food stuffs is quite extraordinary. She has a remarkable ability to render her images while maintaining the fluidity of the medium.

As an extra incentive to visitors to the opening reception the members of the Artists’ Gallery have created postcard-sized original works of art, which will be awarded to gallery attendees via a lottery-type drawing.

Art Exhibit, Saturday, February 10, 6 p.m., Artists’ Gallery, 32 Coryell Street, Lambertville. Opening reception for “Passions,” an exhibit featuring nudes, portraits, landscapes, sexy cars, and abstracts. On view through Sunday, March 4. Snowdate Saturday, February 17, 6 to 9 p.m. www.lambertvillearts.com or 609-397-4588.

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