No laurel-resting for Mark Conrardy this past weekend. Friday evening he learned his Catalano’sTractor had taken the Best of Show award at the opening reception of Trenholm Art Guild’s 32nd annual exhibit, hosted at House of Frames and Paintings, 2828 Devine Street. Early Saturday morning he was setting up supplies and art for the Elmwood Park Tour of Homes. Large easels bearing finished art work sprung up on the Kolb’s Park Street front porch, and in the homeowners’ flower beds. Stuck among hostas and flowering shrubs were some of Mark’s smaller paintings stationed on tabletop easels. On the sidewalk he set up a painting in its early stages, showing passersby how he begins a piece of art.
Paint boxes, brushes and blank canvases were at hand on the chance he'd have a little slow time to get some work done. As it turned out, though, his day was devoted to meeting old friends and prospective art lovers, answering questions and receiving congratulations (including a hearty handshake from Mayor Steve Benjamin who sauntered by).Although the works he displayed for those strolling Elmwood Park’s sidewalks included landscapes and a variety of other subjects, his tractor theme was prominently in evidence. The annual home tour featured eight homes and/or businesses along with three gardens, chef demonstrations and wine tastings, pedi-cabs and horse and carriage rides through a neighborhood that is a finalist in the national Neighborhood of the Year designation.
“I first painted a tractor a couple of years ago during a Paint Out at Barbara Yongue’s home in Blair,” Conrardy recalled. He is a regular with a spin-off group from About Face, a Columbia Museum of Art affiliate that draws and paints from live models. Members of that smaller group paint in plein air, usually the third Saturday of each month, to hone their skills and perpetuate the artistic legacies of Impressionistic artists. (Note: Saturday, April 20, the plein air painters will be at easels in front of the Columbia Museum of Art, doing their best impressions of the Impressionists. CMA’s stunning exhibition Impressionism from Monet to Matisse closes Sunday.)After the first large tractor painting, executed in only a morning in a back pasture on the Yongue’s farm, Mark painted quite a few more, each from a different angle, with a goal of capturing a tractor (and he’s had more than one “model”) from all its vantage points. His most recent piece has a very abstract quality about it.
Mark’s Catalano’s Tractor was the last work of art to receive a ribbon at the TAG reception. Juror Jane Smithers noted that his piece had “the most creative approach to subject matter with a delightful sense and balance of color and light.”Ribbons also were pinned to Mary Hartfield’s painting Southern Blossoms and Lee Sipe’s three-dimensional Vessel No. 368, both First Place winners. Renea Eshleman’s vibrant painting Canna Surprise took second place, along with Rita Ruth Cockrell’s Remembrances, in the Three-Dimensional and Photography category. Third place ribbons were given to Barbie Mathis for her painting Hand-Knitted and to Ed Shmunes for his photograph, Trio. Merit awards, both for paintings, went to Juanita Yancey for Once Upon a Time and Naomi Woods for Floating Daffodils. Donna Reid’s Heron in a Tree and Meg Gregory’s Faith received Honorable Mention.
Go by House of Paintings and Frames QUICKLY! The TAG show ends today (Friday, April 19). You don’t want to miss it!