The featured artist works are from Terry Merchant of Fulton and Jodi Cruse of Lake Carroll
Two area artists will be showing their work at the 321 Art Gallery in Savanna, beginning with an open public reception at 6 PM on the evening of Saturday, July 31 under the sponsorship of the ACS. Sharing the walls that evening, and for the four weeks following, will be Terry Merchant of Fulton and Jodi Cruse of Lake Carroll, both in IL.
Moving to this area from MI four years ago, Terry Merchant is a retired art teacher who, like many retirees, is busier now than when she worked. She serves on the board of the Clinton Art Association, works in the group's Rainbow Pottery shop at the River Arts Center there, and teaches classes in pottery, drawing and painting (stressing mixed media) for both children and adults.
Merchant has a BA in Art, a BSE, and a MS in Secondary Education with a major in Art, from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and has done additional graduate work at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She taught Art (K-12) in public schools in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Michigan for more than 25 years and has also been an adjunct professor in Art at West Shore Community College in Michigan as well as teaching many adult education drawing classes in both Arkansas and Michigan. A well-known water colorist, she's won awards in the Michigan Art Education show, the juried Muskegon Museum Regional Art Show and one of her crosses was selected for the cover of the 2006 Commencement program for Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan.
Merchant's past work efforts in art include photography, pottery, jewelry, watercolor, and mixed-media collage. At present, her main focus is to integrate the elements of color, pattern and texture into whatever medium she happens to be working with. Currently involved with collecting three dimensional crosses made from a variety of materials and designs, these have become the inspiration for her mixed media works in this show.
"I really wanted to see them in color, so I painted one in my favorite colors, liked it and just kept going. The ideas for them just keep coming so I think I'll continue to paint them for awhile longer. The cross, as a symbol of God's redeeming love for us, is already so full of power and mystery. In my paintings of them, I want to focus on the beauty of the gift."
The other artist exhibiting in this show is Jodi Cruse of Lake Carroll with 18 photo art canvases entitled "Barns of Northern Illinois."
A lifelong student of art, nature and people, Cruse was born and raised in central IA, eventually moving to the northwest portion of IL. She studied portrait drawing and painting under the direction of IA artist, Demitar Krustev, along with pottery making and design at the Des Moines Art Center. She has a degree in graphic design from the Des Moines Area Community College and is a self-taught watercolor artist, but believes her formal art training has had the greatest influence on developing her style of realistically detailed drawings, paintings and graphic photography. In addition, Cruse has worked as an assistant art director at an outdoor advertising agency, designing billboards, and then moved on to be art director of a small ad agency. Since 1986, she's had her own business, J. Cruse Designs, which focuses on graphic design, children's portraits, and watercolors of homes. She also does faux painting and murals in private homes, designs blank greeting cards for fundraisers or personal use and enjoys the challenge of interior decorating, but watercolor remains her favorite medium.
"Graphic design is all about perfection," she said. "About linear design, about making art to sell something. It's basically art for other people. But watercolor is what I do for myself. There's something about putting the paint into water and watching it work its magic that makes me happy. Photography has the same effect on me. I take pictures of things that make me smile. It's crazy, I know, but old barns, houses and churches are just works of art that I can't help but photograph, draw and paint."
It's not unusual for her to pull over on the side of the road to take a picture of a barn that the light is hitting just right. "I see things differently than a lot of people. I see things in shadow and light. I see the contrast, color and the beauty in everyday scenery. I can stand there watching the light change on a subject for an hour and never get tired of it."
All of the barns in her photo art series were taken in Carroll, Jo Davies, Stephenson and Ogle Counties. "The Jo Davies Farm Bureau Barn is a favorite subject, because I started snapping pictures of it years ago, as it deteriorated and then after the storm that took most of it down. To see it gone now makes me sad. However, I'm happy that I have preserved a little history in my art."
Photography has been a life long hobby for Cruse and works well with the other types of art that she enjoys. Having training in several different mediums is just icing on the cake for Cruse. She says"...the possibilities are endless."
For more information on Cruse and her business, contact www.jcrusedesigns.net