BROOKSVILLE — As friends, Rosa Lea Addington and Rosalie Lo Curcio share many interests. Both love poetry and morning walks, and both have an affinity for the Italian language.
When it comes to creating art, the two women also find common ground. When they decided to collaborate on a spring exhibit at the Brooksville City Hall Art Gallery, it seemed natural to include works that touched their collective spirits.
"Face to Face" is an exhibit within an exhibit featuring paintings and sculpture that reflect how Addington and Lo Curcio view the human spirit.
Addington, a painter, contributed several pieces from a series of evocative portraits of Bosnian War victims called "Women Of Courage," plus several other recent works.
Lo Curcio, a sculptor, chose to include an array of clay busts and masks she has created over the past several years in her Spring Hill home.
Although the works were rendered independently, Lo Curcio says the exhibit projects both artists' desire to show the human face as a rich repository for the human condition, an ever-changing stage where life's dramas and emotions are constantly played out.
Although capturing emotion may be the essence of their mission as artists, bringing it to canvas or clay can be tricky, they say.
"It all factors into what you are trying to convey," Addington said. "You find yourself looking for the most subtle things — the way an eyebrow meets the forehead or the simple curve of the lips."
For Addington, composition is a key ingredient as well. Quite often, simple is better.
In the portrait Mourning Women, her somber subjects come to life almost magically using stark, eloquent charcoal strokes.
She achieved a similar feel for Diversity 9/11, an oil creation in which she chose a muted spectrum of colors to contrast members of a stunned New York crowd standing in the streets.
Addington said she knew early on in life that she wanted to be a painter. After studying design at Albright Art School in her native Buffalo, N.Y., she earned a master's degree in art education and spent the next three decades teaching art at colleges in Georgia and Florida and exhibiting her award-winning work at small galleries in the South.
After settling in Hernando County with her retired husband in 2005, Addington said she set out searching for any culture in the area. Seeing a notice for a local poetry club, she called the number listed and talked to Lo Curcio.
Addington recalls that the initial exchange between her and Lo Curcio turned a bit "spooky" once they realized how strangely similar their lives were. In addition to having nearly identical first names, both were native New Yorkers of Sicilian descent and both were learning to speak Italian.
Lo Curcio says that a shared philosophy and vision of art is what sealed their friendship.
"We both like to think outside the box," said Lo Curcio. "I think what our exhibit shows is that if you love art, you should do it on your own terms."
A 20-year resident of Spring Hill, Lo Curcio spent 20 years as a graphic designer in New York and New Jersey before deciding it was time to fulfill her lifelong desire to model in clay.
Inspiration for her sculptures comes from a variety of sources, Lo Curcio says. She has created busts of friends and family members and has a penchant for re-creating early tribal masks.
"The thrill (of sculpting) is that you really never know where the clay will take you," she said. "It tends to change depending on what mood I'm in."
Both women say they would like to organize other thematic exhibits and would even consider creating a series of collaborative works.
Said Addington: "I could see it happening. We're friends who enjoy doing lots of things together. Creating art together would be a natural fit for us."