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Saturday, October 25, 2014
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Artwork comes to life in all-woman show

By Adam Wisnieski
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‘Wisteria’ by Joan Brown Levine is one of 13 pieces featured in the group show, ‘4 Woman’s Exhibit: Art Alive in Riverdale,’ at the Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture.
'Hypnosis’ by Gloria Karlson.
Orange Bloom’ by Ruth Hurd.
‘The Gift’ by Aija Sears.
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Women’s History Month officially ended on Easter Sunday, but the Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture decided to extend it a month.

An art show featuring four local women, appropriately titled, “4 Women’s Exhibit: Art Alive in Riverdale,” has been on display at the Ethical Culture Society’s meeting house on Manhattan College Parkway since the beginning of March. Due to “popular demand,” according to the Ethical Culture Society’s Grace Cobbinah, the show has been extended through April.

The 13-piece show includes rare abstract art from one of Riverdale’s most accomplished realistic watercolorists, Ruth Hurd; Amalgamated resident Joan Brown Levine’s Wave Hill watercolors; highly detailed botanical art from Yonkers resident Aija Sears; and watercolors from former professional photographer Gloria Karlson.

This is the second year the four women have joined together for a show. Last year, the group included one more artist and the show was dubbed, “5 Women’s Exhibit.”

Ms. Sears said the work in the show blends beyond the fact that all the artists are women in the Riverdale Art Association.

“The colors flow,” she said. “While the work ranges from abstract to realistic, everything blends in. There’s a connection there.”

Ms. Sears’ most striking piece in the show is an image of a bird holding two berries in its beak. Ms. Sears scanned two orange leaves to make up the bird’s wings, and the body looks like a cluster of leaves. 

A botanical illustrator trained by New York Botanical Garden, Ms. Sears, who also teaches art to fourth graders in Pelham, said the image incorporates ink techniques used in botanical art.

Because the leaves are placed in the right spot, she said the neck and head of the bird is formed in the negative space.

“All you do is put in an eye,” she said.

Ms. Levine said she spends a lot of time at Wave Hill. When her heart begins to pound, she knows she’s found a painting. One of her paintings on display was inspired by a walk through Wave Hill’s mansion before construction began.

“I saw the balcony and the texture of the stone and the pine trees and the river and I said ‘Oh that’s a painting!’” she said.

Though the work does not necessarily focus on women’s issues, the show itself is a message that art by women is alive and well in Riverdale.

The best time to view the art is on Sundays before or after the Ethical Culture Society’s weekly platforms, held at 11 a.m. The exhibit can also be viewed Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 718-548-4445 or go to www.rysec.org.

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