Sunset River Marketplace to feature Coasting, works by the Art Matters painting group

L-R,  Top row: Tina Lepsig, Joanne Bendy, Sue Ruopp, Audrey Poole, Sue Nern, Linda Young, Nancy Guiry. Seated: Barbara Riggi, Jane Staszak, Adrienne Johnston
Sunset River Marketplace art gallery in Calabash, N.C. will feature Coasting, a collection of works by the Art Matters painting group, from April 1 through May 2. A reception is scheduled for Saturday, April 4 from 2 to 5 p.m. The public is invited to attend the free reception.

The group began in 2006 as the gallery’s pastel class, which was taught by noted S.C. artist Jane Staszak. The lively and talented group dubbed themselves the Pastel Sisters and had their first group show at Sunset River Marketplace in 2010. Since then the class has evolved into an open studio where they often explore media other than pastel. In 2012, they changed their name to Art Matters in order to cover a broader range of style and work.

Coasting expresses the views of ten women with a common love of art and life on the coast. Together they have experienced love, loss, laughter and tears. Their joy of life is obvious in their work.

Participating artists are: Jane Staszak, Nancy Guiry, Linda Young, Sue Ruopp, Joanne Bendy, Barbara Riggi, Susan Nern, Audrey Poole, Adrienne Johnston and Tina Lepsig. The group also plans to honor former member Brenda “Bree” Goff, who passed away suddenly in August 2014.

Jane Staszak works in pastel, acrylic and ink. Her work has been accepted into many prestigious state and national exhibitions. Her long list of awards includes a Best in Show from the National Show at Southport, N.C. and the Cape Fear Annual Show in Fayetteville, N.C. Other honors include an invitation to show at the prestigious 2011 Pastels by Invitation Exhibition in Cape Cod, Mass. Jane excels at character studies, impressionistic landscapes and animal portraiture. (Shown: Off We Go, pastel by Jane Staszak)

Nancy Guiry is a versatile and talented multimedia artist who retired to the N.C. coast 15 years ago and now has the time to pursue her lifetime desire to create art. She has been inspired by her surroundings to study with nationally known artists such as Mary Whyte, Arnie Westerman, and Carl Dalio. She says, “My greatest lessons were learned from two of our very own local artists. Terry Harrison taught me the fundamentals and to learn to see like an artist. Jane Staszak introduced me to the wonderful world of pastels and their pure pigments, so rich in color.” Her intent with each painting is to capture a moment in time that will trigger the viewer’s senses and emotions as well as be pleasing to the eye.

Linda S. Young is an award-winning artist originally from Brookline, Mass. and now lives in Cape Cod and South Carolina. She works in pastel and oil. Her ability to capture the nuance of a scene has helped her win many awards including two Best In Shows. She is a member of 21 in Truro, South Cape Artists, and is a signature member of Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod. She has been in numerous juried group and solo exhibitions. Her work hangs in numerous national and international private collections.

Sue Ruopp is an accomplished acrylic artist whose tenacity is one of her strongest talents. Forced out of her job as a labor and delivery nurse for health reasons, she moved to North Carolina in 2006, at which time she discovered her passion for art. “I feel blessed to have this ‘never give up’ attitude,” she says. “It’s gotten me through breast cancer, two brain tumors, three hip surgeries and, recently, melanoma – all with good results.” Largely self-taught through experience and reading, she has recently begun studying with impressionist artist Chappy Valente and taking workshops at Sunset River Marketplace.

Joanne Bendy has always enjoyed art and nature. She is an active member of the Brunswick County Master Gardeners program. Being an avid gardener inspires her photographs and paintings of landscapes, birds and flowers. She normally uses bright and luminous colors to portray her passion for nature. For this exhibition, however, she chose the stark contrast of black and white in her stipple images created with archival ink.

Connecticut transplant Barbara Riggi began learning to express nature in pastels just a few years ago. She is particularly interested in equine and ballet subject matter.

Susan Nern has explored a variety of subject matter and says she is especially inspired by coastal landscapes. Her pastels have a soft impressionistic feel that capture the calm serene essence of her subjects.

Audrey Poole retired from the corporate world ten years ago and has been teaching a variety of decorative painting classes and expanding her artistic interests ever since. Wherever possible she combines her desire for recycling fabrics with her decorative painting passion to make one-of-a-kind aprons, pillows and purses. Three years ago she added pastel art to her list of interests and her backyard views of the Cherry Grove marsh have become her favorite pastel subjects. She is also a member of the Decorative Painting Society and Tidewater Artisans.

Adrienne Johnston spent much of her career using her logical side in the computer field and still managed to keep her imaginative side alive by sneaking in some art –quilting, music and knitting. She has found retirement affords time to devote to her creativity and has added pastel painting to her repertoire. If you ask her what inspires her, she’ll say you just need to open your eyes and look around. She sits on the board of the Brunswick Quilters and is a member of Waterway Art Association and Modern Quilt Guild

Pastel and watercolor artist Tina Lepsig lives in Calabash with her husband, golden retriever and cat. She has experimented with various art forms over the years, but not until her recent retirement has she been able to actively pursue her art.

According to gallery owner Ginny Lassiter, the Art Matters group blends artistic talent with humor with humor and warmth. “I invite everyone to come to our reception,” she says. “You’ll love meeting these ladies and you’ll love their work.”

About Sunset River Marketplace
Since opening in 2002, Sunset River Marketplace has been an active supporter of performing, literary and visual arts in the area. The 10,000 square-foot gallery features work by over 200 North and South Carolina artists. Its on-site pottery studio has two kilns and three wheels for use by students. Ongoing oil, pastel and watercolor classes are also provided, in addition to workshops by nationally known artists. The gallery’s complimentary Coffee With the Authors programs feature presentations by local and regional authors. A Paint & Party series provides a fun after-work experience for those with no previous art background. The gallery’s framing department offers full-service, on-site custom frame design for artwork, family heirlooms and other memorabilia.

Sunset River Marketplace is located at 10283 Beach Drive (Hwy. 179) in the historic fishing village of Calabash, N.C. just north of the S.C. state line. Winter hours (January through March) are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information about the exhibition, art classes, onsite framing or any other gallery events, call 910-575-5999 or visit the website: www.sunsetrivermarketplace.com. The gallery’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sunsetrivermarketplace) also lists special events, new artists and other happenings.