The works of 23 local artists on exhibit in Mt. Airy

by Len Lear
Posted 4/21/22

Chestnut Hill area resident and former public school teacher Frank Burd, who has written theater reviews for area newspapers and whose photos have appeared in the Local, is one of the participating artists.

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The works of 23 local artists on exhibit in Mt. Airy

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Local artists have shaken off winter’s slumber and two years of social isolation to celebrate the arrival of spring with Mt. Airy Art Garage’s latest curated show, “Spring Forward! An Earth Day Show,” which opened on April 8, and runs through May 6. 

“The artists of this show have stepped outside this tangled time, felt the breeze, basked in the sunlight, were cleansed by the rain, inhaled the sweet earthy scents and created some amazing art!,” the art center stated in its official announcement about the show, which features 23 local artists. “It’s time to celebrate seasonal awakening! Come and let MAAG’s newest gallery show, 'Spring Forward!,' surround you with the glory of nature to inspire you and rejuvenate your spirits.” 

Chestnut Hill area resident and former public school teacher Frank Burd, who has written theater reviews for area newspapers and whose photos have appeared in the Local, is one of the participating artists. In one two-year period, he took photos while walking the entire length of many important Philadelphia avenues, including Germantown, Ridge, Frankford, Allegheny, Girard, Passyunk, Erie, Baltimore, Haverford, Lehigh, Cecil B. Moore and Lancaster. He also walked  and photographed Broad, 5th, Front, 2nd, Market, South, Spring Garden, Levick, Main and Rhawn Streets in their entirety. 

Another of the artists featured in the show, Mt. Airy resident Donald Leong, graduated in 1963 from the University of the Arts and retired from a 40-year career in advertising in 2006 to pursue his love of drawing. He started to paint in various mediums, and ultimately settled on watercolors as his favorite. Leong's work depicts flowers that bloom every spring.

“After 40-plus years of long hours, tight deadlines, corporate politics and turning 66, I thought of all the things still left to savor and enjoy while I still could,” Leong told us in an earlier interview. “Ad agencies and marketing departments tend to be places of high stress, tight deadlines and long hours. Many key decisions are made with little or no input into the final decision. Working in my studio, on the other hand, is at my own pace; the subject matter is my own choice and ultimately it is my decision if I like the end product or not.”

Nicki Toizer, whose stunning photos are in the exhibit, has improved the photographic skills of many local shutterbugs since 2006 through her classes at Mt. Airy Learning Tree. 

Toizer, who grew up in West Mt. Airy but has lived in Glenside for the past 14 years, is also the author of "Digital Photography Basics," a paperback available through amazon.com.

Gloria Klaiman, of Jenkintown, whose works are in the exhibit, is a largely self-taught artist who spent her professional career as an editor of both print and electronic publications in academic and medical publishing. She told us that she feels fortunate to be able to function as a full-time artist.

“In my mixed media artwork, I strive to explore the beauty of the natural world, as well as the songs, dreams, ideas, fears and aspirations  of the people around us,” she said. “In the current political climate this also entails a conscious effort to counter the initiatives to promote hateful separations between the self and the other.”

Long-time Mt. Airy resident Kathy Robinson is a brilliant Batik artist whose paintings sometimes walk a fine line between abstraction and realism with figurative and floral themes. She has always been drawn to beeswax and the effects achieved by painting with it. 

“The ancient, aged feel that wax can give to a piece and how the colors are enhanced by it are what draws me in,” she said. “Most recently I have been using soy wax and or gutta with silk dyes to make my art scarves. In my mixed media acrylic paintings, I strive to achieve similar effects using a combination of acrylics, mediums, Japanese papers, inks and canvas.”

Roz Dutton of West Mt. Airy has exhibited her work at many local art galleries and won first prize in 2013 in the landscape category of a Friends of the Wissahickon exhibit.

“My photos represent my passion for seeing and recording abstract shapes in nature,” she told us. “I like the ambiguity, the bit of mystery, the slightly off-center feel of the images. I love being in nature with my camera … I focus on patterns, light, color, air, texture, the quiet and the place and frame those moments of wonder.”

Find the show at 7054 Germantown Ave., or visit mtairyartgarage.org for more information about the exhibit and the artists. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com.

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