New Members Show; McGuffey Art Center; through January 30

McGuffey Art Center excels at hauling Charlottesville’s rich seams of artistic talent to the surface during its yearly New Members Show. Autumnal watercolors, intricate textiles, impressionistic still lifes, a photo of an oak’s broad trunk at dawn: the variety of the 10 new artists’ work does justice to McGuffey’s sprawling collective of classrooms and studios.

"Dancing Clouds" by Krista Townsend at McGuffey Art Center’s New Members exhibit.

Lindsay Heider Diamond’s searing oils are a solid place to start. Each portrait either spills out of the frame or looms tight against its edge, with precise fluorescent strokes set against deep shadows that somehow make the subjects (usually the artist or her husband) seem eerily familiar. In “The Moment She Saw More,” a woman somewhere between young and no-longer-young stares straight into the viewer’s eyes, her cheeks highlighted by magenta and peach that intensify a searching gaze sunken in turquoise and navy shadows.

“In any moment in our life, things change. So we may have these moments of stillness or these moments of intensity, and we progress through them and will come to the next one and the next one…” Heider Diamond says.

"Aquarium View" by Jill Jensen at McGuffey Art Center’s New Members exhibit.

Thoughtful consideration of form and subject persists throughout the exhibit. Human-sized studies of a dead sparrow and a phasing cicada stand out among the contributions of Matt Kleberg (known to many for his March exhibit of large portraits at The Garage, and his mural inside the former Pacino’s Deli on the Corner). Each consists of two or three canvases with backgrounds in different patterns and pastel shades. The animals are abstract but retain their shapes, as if seen through the distorting curves of a colored bottle.

Krista Townsend—a seasoned painter who counts a master’s in medical illustration from Johns Hopkins among her accomplishments—hung images of a series of clouds found near Charlottesville and Crozet. The oils fold in oranges, browns and sea foam—colors it might seem clouds shouldn’t have, yet that make them look real. Meanwhile, freelance illustrator Pierre Fihue not only spread his surreal sketches and digital prints of “organic machines” around both floors, but he also promised to bring crepes to the show’s opening earlier this month.

As Heider Diamond, enjoying her fourth year in Charlottesville and patiently awaiting the next open studio space at McGuffey, put it: “I loved the idea of a working artist being part of the art that people can see. The public can come in and learn more about what people are creating.”

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