By Dawn Aerts
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–While visual artists often find their inspiration in the beauty of surrounding landscapes, or focus their talent on nature-scenes, still-life, and portrait work, some find a niche in capturing the detail and character of wild life or domestic animals — from the humblest bird to the mighty horse.
In April, visitors are invited to enjoy the artwork of 12 local painters and members of the Southern Utah Watercolor Society (SUWS) now on exhibit in the Cedar City Council Chambers. The artists represent a field of individual work, drawn to a mix of subjects, method, colors and themes.
Artists Carol Stenger and Teri Rochford like to explore the larger story. “One piece I’ve included in the exhibit I titled, “Double Strength,” said Stenger of the painting. “But it’s also a reflection of our local Heritage Days: the competition, strength and cooperation seen in the faces of a two-horse team, (pulling that heavy sled) is part of the story.”
As a youngster Stenger’s interest began when her dad asked her to draw animals from a “Field and Stream” magazine. While her parochial school experience in Upper Michigan, had no art programs, her parents and high school teachers encouraged her to enter to enter contests and continue to pursue her talent.
“Over the years I found that with people or animals, (if they show something) with their eyes,” said Stenger, “I will paint it.”
According to Rochford, her first love for art began in grade school, and with an aunt who painted landscapes and animals. “When we went to visit, I would hang out in her basement, that was the art-studio. And, I started drawing horses, all the time.”
Rochford believes that road trips led to years of studying and artwork. “I loved painting horses, and now I own 4 of them, so I ride and drive them often. It’s like the process I find in art, when you’re on a good ride, it becomes such a peaceful feeling.”
Both consider themselves primarily watercolor painters, who find a special joy in sharing their talents. “When I paint it is ‘my time,’ said Stenger. “That’s when I totally focus on the art. I’m not sure that it’s unique, but each work has a story to tell, and that energizes and challenges me.”
Rochford’s work titled, “Shakespeare Tonight!” The Adams Theater, was painted in honor of the early theater on campus, but says her art is always centered on creating something beautiful. “Creating makes me feel euphoric, relaxed and clears my mind, said Rochford, “I get inspired, have an idea, and I’m not afraid to break the rules.”
She uses the guidelines and methods of art, but it’s mostly about achieving the vision.
Mona Woolsey, a Cedar City artist, explores everything from fused glass, and mosaic work to bookmaking, collage and printmaking. “But drawing from life (landscapes and figures) is my preferred way, or working in the abstract,” said Woolsey. She describes her painting as very loose and vibrant. “So I love doing wet-on-wet, messing with colors — when colors blend it’s what I enjoy most.”
One of her works titled, “Snow Canyon Impression” focuses on sandstone cliffs with a plein-air painter in the foreground. Woolsey’s work is on display at Artisans and Color County Supply (oils and fused-glass pieces). Her pieces have also been part of Library in the Park shows, the Dixie Pastel Exhibit, and at the Escalante Plein Art Festival, where she won a first-place award.
All are members of the Virgin Valley Art Association, Mesquite, Nev., and have exhibited their work in the Mesquite Fine Art Gallery during invitational shows and at the Frontier Homestead Show, Cedar City, among others. Rochford has exhibited her work as part of the Escalante Art Festival since 2014, and during previous Cedar City Art Walk events.
While Rochford paints in both acrylic and watercolor, she enjoys exploring her talent with other artists. “What I most love about (SUWS) is the camaraderie of getting together each month and improving my skills as an artist with the group.” The group also features once-a-month demonstrations and workshops by notable artists. In 2018, SUWS will feature Valerie Cohn, Andy Marvick, Mary Jabens, and Jennifer Rasmussen.
“I would have to say that belonging to this group is without a doubt a good thing for me as an artist,” said Rochford – “It’s the camaraderie of getting together each month, improving as an artist with many opportunities to show your work.”
Caption (left to right): Teri Rochford, Carol Stenger, Mona Woolsey and Michael Clark. The paintings of 12 artists representing the Southern Utah Watercolor Society (SUWS) will be on display at the Cedar City Hall Council Chambers through April. The (SUWS) seeks to engage local painters at group events, demonstrations and provides opportunities to share their work with the community on a regular basis.