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April Windows at RAL Art Center

April brings a breath of spring to the NNK, and the RAL Art Center Gallery Windows will bring a breath of fresh color and interest to those who take the time to stroll down our marvelous Main Street. Our two featured artists will be Juli Schuszler, who works in acrylic paints, and Martha Gilbert who is a Fiber Artist.

A Tidewater native, Juli Schuszler is known for her vibrant floral masterpieces showcasing the beauty of nature. Often working on over-sized canvases, she has created a body of work which is now displayed in the RAL Gallery and which you can see in the Gallery windows this month. Her work is inspired by her ongoing love of nature and her love of gardening, which is where she finds much of her source material. She works from both the live plant and from photos that she has taken herself, focusing on the play of light on the flowers, creating drama and visual interest.

A passion for color is evident in Juli’s paintings and she uses her colors boldly in all of her compositions. One of her paintings on display in the Gallery Windows this month, Hugh’s Gardenia, was inspired by a blossom from her garden. Juli tells the story that when she first moved into her Gloucester home her neighbor, Hugh, gave her a clipping from one of his gardenia bushes to start her garden. The bush is now over 6 feet tall and has the most fragrant and largest flowers of all her gardenia bushes (now numbering ten). Juli’s oversized painting of this beautiful blossom certainly conveys her joy in both her garden and her painting. Besides her own garden, her subject matter is inspired by her travels to many different places she has been. She also enjoys painting portraits of both people and animal life.

Martha Gilbert works with fabric creating all kinds of fabric art. Fiber collage has been Martha’s focus for the last twenty years, and she has work in collections all across the country. A native Virginian, she spent her professional life as a statistician in academia and health services research, and she now lives in Burgess with her husband and their dog.

Martha likes to fashion with fabric and thread to show that humble, everyday items can be made into a thing of beauty. Fabric intrigues her and its characteristics are irresistible. The color, the texture and the feel are all the things that draw her into type of work that has historically been called “women’s work”. “When I am involved in a project, I feel a connection to the women throughout the ages who have used their hands to create objects that combine beauty and utility. Working from the quilt-making tradition, I honor those whose work was seldom honored in their lifetimes”, says Martha. Her pieces incorporate commercial and artist-dyed/painted fabrics, paint, foil, and cotton and rayon threads. Techniques include piecing, applique, foiling, machine embroidery and machine quilting. Martha’s quilt, titled Here We Go Again, will be featured in her window and is a celebration of colors and patterns pieced together in an unexpected mosaic composition that will catch your eye - - not your Grandmother’s Quilt! As an RAL Art Center co-op artist you can see more of her work inside the Gallery.


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