Art Trail gives visitors a peek into artists’ creativity

VERO BEACH — Visitors to various artists’ studios around town got an up close and personal look at the creative process behind their fabulous works of art at the Vero Beach Art Club’s 2010 Art Trail on Saturday. 

Members of the Art Club volunteered as greeters and helpers during the tour, which allowed a behind the scenes glimpse into the talented worlds of 12 artists at 10 different locations. The gorgeous sunny day was a vast improvement over last year’s rather soggy one, and the bright sunshine in the studios showed off their wonderful collections to perfection.

This year’s participants included two husband and wife teams, both on the barrier island; Gustaf Miller and Janvier Lang Miller, whose work extends to a wide variety of mediums, including painting, sculpture and pottery, and potters Chris and Richard Pierce.  The other artists on the tour were talented painters Dorate Muller, Ellen Fischer, Sharon Sandel, Ivo David and John Cullen; fine jewelry artisan Susan Gancher, painter and stained glass artist Eileen Farrell, and photographer J. Scott Kelly.

Although they both work in clay, Chris and Richard Pierce have quite different approaches and finished products.

“Mine are functional and his are whimsical,” said Chris Pierce, who begins her pieces on the wheel as opposed to his, which start with slabs of clay.

“He doesn’t like the wheel; thinks it’s too messy,” she said with a smile.  “He’s an ex-engineer so everything is exacting.”

German born Doraté Muller is as lovely and elegant as her beautiful paintings. One of her latest techniques, which she will teach in a February workshop, is painting on top of gold leaf, giving a salient luster to the finished piece.

“I started with water colors; I was fortunate to do so as it’s the most difficult media,” said Muller. “Both oils and watercolors have their own wonderful qualities; oils are thick and sensuous, while watercolors flow.”

A one-lane road leads to the old Florida style oceanfront home of Gustaf Miller and Janvier Lange Miller.  Open and airy, the house has a sweeping vista of native vegetation that would inspire the artist in anyone.  The talented couple, artists “forever,” met at Syracuse University and moved to Vero in 1985.

“The Museum was just about to be opened.  We knew it was a community that would be supportive of artists,” explained Janvier.

In addition to painting, they each also work in a variety of other mediums including pottery for Janvier, and sculpture out of gifts from the sea, such as sea grape limbs and driftwood, for Gustaf.

Artisan Susan Gancher welcomed guests in to see the process behind her exquisite fine jewelry, made the old-fashioned way, by hand tooling.  The gorgeous one-of-a-kind, signed pieces are made with 14K gold or sterling silver, enhanced with precious or semi-precious stones.

In addition to being a prolific artist herself, Ellen Fischer shares her love of art by teaching others.

“She’s amazing,” said Vero newcomer Patricia Fisher.  “She opened my dad’s eyes to art after he had a stroke.”

Her father Brian happily showed off his paintings and agreed saying with a big smile, “There is only one Ellen; she’s a great friend and a great teacher.”

As an award winning photographer, Scott Kelly generally creates his studio wherever he goes, and his photos reflect that diversity.  Recently, several of his images were chosen to grace the cover of the Cultural Council’s Community Event Calendar.

The always upbeat Sharon Sandel said she first introduced the concept of the Art Trail four years ago with Lillie Taylor, after having seen something similar in Stuart.  Although a painter in both watercolor and acrylic, she said she prefers oil.

“I love the blend-ability and luminosity of oils.  You can’t get that with anything else.”

An award-winning painter for more than 40 years, Eileen Farrell showed visitors her latest colorful venture; she has now branched out into stained glass.

An enthusiastic Ivo David was very pleased with the event’s turnout saying, “It’s been fantastic.  It’s been jammed shoulder to shoulder and I’ve made a few sales.  It’s a good sign for the economy.”

He was becoming quite hoarse, describing the complex sketches and painting representing Dante’s Inferno.

“All morning, I’ve been explaining the piece; showing how the Devil is taking the sinners into Hell,” said David.

And John Cullen was kept busy throughout the day, showing off his unique acrylic on wood approach with abstract impressionism.  The pieces are often shimmery reflections of water, in some cases almost flowing along with the natural grains of the wood.

If you missed the tour, many of the same artists will be displaying their works at the Vero Beach Art Club’s next big events, Art by the Sea on January 14, 15 and 16 at the Vero Beach Museum of Art, and Under the Oaks on March 11, 12 and 13 at Riverside Park. {igallery 313}

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