Art show combines six talents

A glow from the fireplace in Wilton Library’s reading room took the chill off the air Friday evening, Jan. 6, as community members gathered to view the library’s first art show of the year — Art Times Six Art Exhibition. Each of the artists was on hand to accept congratulations and talk about their work: Janel Cassara, Art Gerstein, Susan Kurnit, Lenore Sillery, Russell Sillery, and Cindy Sinor.

As the only husband and wife that curator Ed MacEwen has signed on to a library show, the Sillerys said they were both surprised and honored to be included.

Although their advertising agency was their career, they enjoyed painting as a young couple. Now retired, they have picked it up again.

Russell works in oils and said he always had a feeling for painting. “As a kid I drew and painted. It’s something you can rekindle,” he said.

His wife said he paints just about every day, and he said he is moving from landscapes to figures. “I’m not ready to be locked into anything,” he said. Two of his large portraits hang in the main gallery.

Asked what he is working on now, he said it is a painting of his son. “He got invited to the Nobel Prize ceremonies and sent back a picture of himself in white tie and tails.” He’s working on it as a “point of pride.”

Lenore Sillery’s arresting colored-pencil drawing of Antonio Munoz was done from a photo in a class with local artist Martha Talburt. Talburt took each student’s drawing, put them together as a collage, and presented it to Munoz. Later, Talburt told Sillery Munoz wished to purchase it, and now it hangs at the library on loan.

Standing before her imposing work Concerto, Janel Cassara said each of her paintings “is a little crazy.”

Working with acrylics, she imbues her paintings with references to music and fashion. “I’m always listening to music when I paint, so it’s a recurring theme,” she said. In Concerto, the top of the painting is framed with piano keys. There is also a ribbon representing fabric throughout.

Although she supported herself with a career in finance and information design, she has always loved fashion and has sewn wedding dresses for her friends. She also does custom sewing for clients in town, and manages to paint in her free time.

Susan Kurnit went through two careers — magazines and teaching — before she circled back to art. Her first exposure was about 30 years ago when she began copying photos from National Geographic magazine and then moved on to painting pictures of her dogs.

She came back in a big way about a year and a half ago, buying oils and painting people’s pets.

“I really love animals,” she said, and from the two passions came her pet portrait business, Pettraits.

“I’ve always loved drawing and painting,” she said, but she was always focused on academics and thus did not have much exposure in school, although she always kept a sketchbook with her.

Now she paints two mornings a week with Althea Ericsson through Wilton Continuing Education, and “they are the two happiest days of the week,” she said.

Although she is devoted to her pet portraits, Kurnit is working on a series of paintings of boots — cowboy boots, rain boots and the like — “just to do something different.”

She is delighted to be in the library show. “It is such an honor,” she said. “It’s like I died and went to heaven.”

The exhibition will run through Jan. 27.