Snow has finally fallen in Stag Country, and a great way to warm up during these cold days is to take a quick ride over to the Fairfield University Downtown Bookstore and view the Black Rock Art Guild “Winter Art” exhibition. The Black Rock Art Guild is a non-profit organization that bIMG_9697rings together artists, poets and writers to share in the delights of their practice as a group.

Judy Noel, founder of the Black Rock Art Guild, explained, “I founded the Black Rock Art Guild about three years ago and it grew because of the joy it brings to everyone. Artists from Black Rock and surrounding areas get together and chat. We are artists who enjoy friendships and each other.”

Many of the artists originally became involved with the Guild due to their close relationship with the community. Susan Fehlinger, a pallet knife painter, was asked to join the Guild by Noel, her apartment neighbor. Bruce Williams, artist of pastel pieces inspired by water and the Marines, became involved after having been born in Fairfield and now living on Black Rock. Williams said, “I was originally asked by Judy to join the Guild a few years ago, so I agreed to be a part of the Guild and I love having this opportunity to be involved with an amazing group of people.”

The Black Rock Art Guild is comprised of many unique artists who bring their own flare and techniques to their work including pastel artists, photographers, iPad artists, mixed media artists and pallet knife painters.

Fehlinger said, “I’ve been painting for twelve years now, and I discovered the knife because I’ve always hated washing my paint brushes. I really started liking how the pallet knife works.” Fehlinger added, “In my piece, ‘City Rain’, the scene wasn’t originally supposed to be raining, but I didn’t like how the painting was turning up. So I took my pallet knife and dragged it down my whole painting so that the city looked like it was wet, then I simply added umbrellas to the people and felt that it really worked with my design.”


However, not all artists of this community are painters; in fact, there are a couple of writers and poets within their community. When the Guild was created, the group encouraged all forms of art to participate including photogrIMG_9704aphy, electronic art and different writing styles. The openness of the Black Rock Art Guild attracted many unique artists, and the writers within the group love being able to share their work with these artists.

Janet Krauss, an English lecturer at Fairfield University, teaches classes such as Texts and Contexts I and II, Composition and Prose and Introduction to Literature. Krauss is also a poet for the Black Rock Art Guild and explained, “I heard online that the Guild was starting up and it was a wonderful opportunity for me as a poet to get integrated with the art world and it is working wonderfully.”

Many artists of the Black Rock Art Guild find inspiration for their pieces from the workings of the world around them. Some of these artists claim to be inspired by the beauty of the nature that surrounds them, and others seek happiness by portraying their own emotions through their pieces.

“Blue Again,” a piece painted by Noel, displays a picture of sailboats floating in the blue ocean. She explained, “I used to go sailing when I was younger, and I love the beauty of the sails. They’re almost like flowers.”

Another mixed-media painter, Donna Osterby-Brien, also found inspiration through the beauty of nature for her work titled, “‘And the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters’ (Genesis 1:2).” Osterby-Brien explained, “The most important part of this piece is the title. When I finished this piece and looked at it, I thought about the time when God’s spirit floated over the waters and brought them together.”

Not all artists find inspiration from the joy and beauty of the world. “The inspiration for my poem stemmed from a picture in the New York Times of a little boy who had drowned in the waters and was washed ashore when he was coming over from Syria. This little boy has become the ‘poster boy’ for all children escaping from Syria and coming over in desperation looking for refuge,” Krauss explained. “I felt so upset and the only way that helps me when I get upset is to write.”

The Black Rock Art Guild is comprised of an inspirational group of artists who are eager to share their work amongst themselves and to others. All artists at the opening reception for the exhibition, which was held on Friday, Feb. 5 in the Fairfield University Downtown Bookstore, were eager to share not only their inspiration for their work, but the closeness of their community. By entering the exhibition, it was obvious that these artists love being able to gather together and share with one another their time and talent. The exhibition will be available to all viewers until Feb. 29, and the talent displayed on the walls will be sure to exceed all expectations of those who attend.

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