“Under the Branches” Opens in Fairfield’s b2 Gallery

Photo by Frances Holt.

On Tuesday, December 4, the Fairfield Center for Contemporary Art in downtown Sturgeon Bay will open the doors to “Under the Branches,” an eight-artist exhibition in the art center’s lower-level b2 Gallery. On display through December 30 will be the work of painter Mary Bosman, fiber artist Rosie Dittman, painter Lynn Gilchrist, photographer Frances Holt, wood and metal sculptor Angela Lensch, weaver Joan Meiselman, paper artist Carol Morgan and pottery artist Reneé Schwaller.

The featured artists will host a special Holiday Reception in the b2 Gallery from 6 – 8 pm on Thursday, December 6. It will be open free to the public, and refreshments will be served.

In “Under the Branches,” each participating artist’s work is a visual exploration of the natural world. Exhibition viewers will notice a broad definition of this theme, portrayed in an exciting variety of mediums.

Mary Bosman’s oil and pastel paintings are easily recognized for the luminous early morning or late afternoon light she creates, which infuses scenes such as wooded interiors, sandy shores or even backyards. Each painting reflects her love of both color and light.

“For me, [light] means spiritual awareness, and I always strive to convey that quality in all my paintings,” Bosman explains.

She has been painting for at least 25 years. While she is primarily self-taught, she has taken classes with Ramon Kelley and Emmett Johns, and she has taught painting at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College for more than five years.

Rosie Dittman has been working with fiber nearly all her life, starting with knitting at the age of 8. She moved on to spinning, weaving and, most recently, felt. She has studied with international felt artists from the United States, New Zealand and Russia.

After grounding herself in the technicalities of fiber technique and gaining a thorough understanding of the qualities of wool, Dittman says she now tries to push its limits creatively.

“Fiber crafts link us to every age, every culture and every continent,” she explains. “My work is a contemporary approach to an ancient craft.”

Lynn Gilchrist primarily works in pastels and oil paint, occasionally delving into acrylics, printmaking and mixed media. The artist earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in studio art and art history from Ohio’s Oberlin College, and she studied in Rome through the Temple University Abroad program as well as at the California Institute of the Arts. Gilchrist has now called the Door Peninsula home for 30 years, and she says the strong presence of nature here influences her art.

“I try to pay respect to the silent lives of the elements of nature in my work, reflecting their spirit in an honest, humble way,” Gilchrist says.

Frances Holt studied home economics and food photography before cooking on board a private yacht and sailing the world. Now based in Sturgeon Bay, she and her family are in the process of renovating an historic log house south of the city. She is always found with her camera, shooting both color and black-and-white 35 mm film. She recently embarked on digital imagery with the Canon EOS 30D.

“I’m inspired by the revolving seasons and beautiful sunsets in Door County,” she says. Of her artwork, she adds, “As a well-traveled foreigner living in rural America, I’m offering my own unique perspective.”

For Angela Lensch, art is a way of life – an extension of the self. She says she creates from the heart, and the strength and balance of the wild are reflected in the furniture, sculpture and jewelry that she creates. She encourages viewers to touch her work and to view each piece as a meditative tool.

“I love when the viewer can connect with the piece,” she says.

Lensch received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design with a double major in furniture design and sculpture in December 2001. She was selected as a Peninsula Art School Emerging Artist in 2003.

Joan Meiselman, who received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1972, has been weaving for 40 years. Her work has been exhibited nationally in numerous juried art fairs and festivals. While life has taken her to southern California and northern New Mexico, she currently makes her home in rural Wisconsin, near Algoma.

“Living in a small house surrounded by beautiful gardens, I’m influenced by the natural cycle of the seasons – moonlight on snow, sunlight on water and the wind over farm fields,” Meiselman says. “The light outside my studio windows is always shifting color.”

Carol Morgan is known for her large-scale wall sculptures and framed abstracts, which focus on themes of expression and healing. She approaches her creative process from two perspectives: as a keen observer of nature, from which she takes her palette and textures; and as a licensed professional counselor, inspired by her clients’ healing journeys as well as her own life experiences.

Morgan earned a Ph.D. in counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she has worked as a licensed professional counselor for 23 years. She established her Wild Onions Studio on the Door Peninsula after falling in love with fiber art and the papermaking process.

Pottery by Renee Schwaller.

Reneé Schwaller’s main body of work consists of functional, colorful pottery with playful designs, and she crafts each piece from start to finish at her home studio, Off the Wheel Pottery in Egg Harbor. Here, she draws inspiration from her family and her surroundings – the things, she says, that bring her the most joy.

Schwaller earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her studies in pottery began after working with renowned potters Abe and Ginka Cohn at the Potters Wheel Gallery in Fish Creek; she also studied pottery at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis and at the University of Hawaii.

The Fairfield Center for Contemporary Art is open free to the public, 10 am – 5 pm Wednesday through Saturday. For more information call 920.746.0001, send e-mail to [email protected] or visit