New art shows highlight female painters

| September 10, 2015

Blue Ridge landscapes by regional female artists are at the heart of two upcoming exhibitions at Sweet Briar College this fall. “Anne Hanger: Landscape Abstractions” opens at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, with a talk and reception in Babcock Gallery, followed by “In the Shadow of Paul Mountain: E. Hunt Barrett’s Views of Sweet Briar” on Thursday, Oct. 22, in Benedict Gallery. Both are free and open to the public.

Anne Hanger, “January 27, 2015,” inkjet print, 8 x 8 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

The first show will include 28 inkjet prints and six paintings by contemporary artist Anne Hanger. Hanger was born in 1951 in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Fairfax. She earned her Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degrees at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore in 1974 and 1977.

As Anne Markle, she was a professor of art at Auburn University in Alabama for 15 years and at the University of New Orleans for two years. Returning to her maiden name in 1993, she taught at Mississippi State University in Starkville for six years and for seven years at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, where she now resides with her husband, Bob Craycroft.

Hanger, who now paints full time, says she became an artist because she likes adventure.

“I have a passion for plant and landscape forms that stimulate my imagination,” she writes on her website. “Creating paintings of these forms is a way of sharing my enthusiasm for them. Energy, ambiguity, tension, complexity, exuberance and unexpected elegance tend to attract me most.”

Hanger’s working process begins with a digital collage created from sections of original watercolor sketches, painted textures and abstracted photographs of landscapes she has “experienced.”

“Once I’ve settled on a composition, I use it to direct the beginning of a painting,” she writes. “I continue editing the work until it represents a visual equivalent of my experience of nature rather than a traditional view. I’m after the essential features that made the landscape meaningful to me. The work is finished when it surprises me and I feel that I have learned something from the journey.”

“Landscape Abstractions” is on view until Nov. 18.

Elizabeth Hunt Barrett (1863-1955), “Dusk over Sweet Briar from Mt. St. Angelo,” 1931, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches. Collection of the Sweet Briar College Art Collection and Galleries; Gift of an anonymous donor, 1966.

A month later in Benedict Gallery, visitors will be able to see the Sweet Briar campus and its surroundings from the perspective of Elizabeth Hunt Barrett (1863-1955). Barrett was an accomplished, but reclusive, professional painter who moved to Amherst County from the Northeast in the early decades of the 20th century.

As Sweet Briar Galleries Director Karol Lawson points out on the exhibition’s website, her full biography remains “frustratingly elusive” to researchers.

“She and her painter husband settled just across the road from Sweet Briar, near what is now the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and they kindly opened their home to the College’s homesick students,” Lawson writes.

“She made a specialty of views of campus from the hill at Mt. St. Angelo — now home to the VCCA — and these became extremely popular with students, alumnae and faculty.

“In the Shadow of Paul Mountain” will feature several of her studies that have found their way back to campus as gifts and bequests. The exhibition is on view until Dec. 13.

Both galleries are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, contact Lawson at [email protected] or (434) 381-6248.

Janika Carey

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Category: Art Galleries