For art lovers there are few things more enjoyable than visiting a new show and viewing paintings, accompanied by vino and hors d'oeuvres and talk with the artists.
And so it went last week at the McLean Project for the Arts at the McLean Community Center where a crowd showed up to see the McLean Art Society's new competition, 40 works selected by juror and artist Kurt Schwarz.
The grand prize winner was Betty Ganley's Spring Diva, which was not the first time Ms. Ganley has won a blue ribbon. Indeed, her works have won several first, second, and honorable mentions in national and area competitions.
Her story is one which gives hope to new and/or struggling artists.
Years ago when she was a part-time nurse who rose at 4 a.m. to get to work, Ms. Ganley began painting, a diversion from work and family responsibilities. Fearful that the oils and materials stationed in her bedroom where she painted were too tempting for her young children, she turned to watercolor and worked in her kitchen.
Watercolor is much easier to set up and take down, she explained. And she still paints in her kitchen. In watercolor.
"I can't imagine retiring without something to do," she said at the McLean opening. At Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring where she worked, she directed an employee art show where one surgeon was a glass blower and another, a deep sea photographer.
For a contemporary show, few abstracts are found in the McLean display, but plentiful scenics and pleasant landscapes fill the gallery. The only unsettling piece is a self-portrait watercolor whose female frown stops you on the ramp walk, not only because of the unhappy stare directed at the viewer, but because of the vast difference from the other subjects.
He said it was difficult to narrow choices to 40 for the show: "I get rejected a lot myself and know what it feels like."
Honorable mentions went to Hill Town by Carol Higgs, Harbor Colors by Virginia Luster, and Spirited Journey by Betty MacDonald.
Most of the paintings are for sale and provide a lovely change from the malls for holiday shoppers, and who would not welcome finding a new piece of art under the tree?
What: McLean Art Society's Members' Juried Show
When: Now through January 6, 2014, Monday through Thursday: 9 a.m. - 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. - 12 a.m., and Sunday: 12 - 6 p.m. (Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.)
Where: McLean Project for the Arts at the McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Avenue, McLean, VA 22101. For directions and a map, click here.
Admission: No charge
Parking: Plentiful and free
For more information: 703-790-1953 or 703-790-0123