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Brooksville City Hall Art Gallery marks 10 years with original artists

BROOKSVILLE

To wrap up the Brooksville City Hall Art Gallery's 10th anniversary celebration, gallery director Rhonda Hancock thought it might be fun to go retro.

The June 1998 debut of the public gallery featured an array of local artists who, to that point, had few places willing to show their work. As a tribute for the anniversary, Hancock invited all 15 original artists to once again share their creations with the public. The seven who responded are among the area's most well-known artists.

Hancock says the reunion exhibit, which features the works of Diane Becker, Leslie Duncan, Betsy Glasson, Fred Mannarino, Mary Alice Queiros, Rosalie Washington and Valdora Ward, is a testament to the value that Hernando County residents have put on art in their community.

"These are professional artists whose works you can see displayed all over the county," Hancock said. "The quality of their work speaks for itself. We're very lucky to have them in our community."

The work of the seven artists will be on display through Aug. 7. The public is invited to attend an art reception and meet the artists from 5 to 7 p.m. June 17.

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Diane Becker, a Spring Lake portrait artist, is one of Hernando County's premier artists. Known for her stunningly detailed portraits of people, she gained local prominence a few years ago with her mural The Early Physicians Of Brooksville, which can be found on the wall of the SunTrust Bank building at the southwest corner of Broad and Jefferson streets in downtown Brooksville. In addition to teaching art at Pasco-Hernando Community College, Becker teaches private lessons at her home studio.

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Leslie Duncan is a nature artist who lives in Weeki Wachee and works primarily in oils and watercolors. A former student of Becker's, she says she particularly enjoys the challenge of painting water and catching the reflections of light and form. Last fall, she was honored as West Hernando Branch Library's "Artist of the Month." Recently, she and her husband, Alan, have been assisting other local artists in a project to restore original props and display artifacts at the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.

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Betsy Glasson is a self-taught watercolor artist who also has a passion for live theater. As an actor-director, she has been involved in several productions at Stage West Community Playhouse, as well as other theater venues. As a landscape artist, she enjoys the challenge of capturing the color and splendor of nature. "I prefer to paint what gives me joy," she said. "The sun on the blond hair of my grandson, the comfort of a hot cup of tea on a snowy evening, the cool shadows of courtyard arches."

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Fred Mannarino, a retired commercial artist, has found a second career as a painter and sculptor. He is recognized as a painter's painter. Enamored of the styles of modern art masters such as Picasso, Braque, Matisse and Cezanne, Mannarino said he set out to create cubist images that would capture the passion and verve of his heroes. His sculptures include wood assemblages and three-dimensional creations that combine objects and painted surfaces.

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Mary Alice Queiros, known as the City Hall gallery's visionary and its first director, used to spend her summer vacations with her late husband in Florida sketching old houses and landscapes in ink. Several of her original drawings that were part of the gallery's first exhibit are included in the new exhibit, along with newly created works. Now retired as gallery director, Queiros continues to be active in the local art scene as chairwoman of the Brooksville Mural Society.

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Rosalie Washington, a multifaceted artist, grew up in Suffolk County, N.Y., surrounded by art in all its forms. But it was the act of putting paint to canvas that best captures her spirit, she says. Although she has worked in several mediums, oils are her favorite. They allow her to capture what she calls "the delicate spirit of dark and light." She chose several such paintings for the current gallery display. A past president of the Spring Hill Art League, she continues to be active in area art organizations. In June, Cortez Community Bank will feature some of Washington's paintings at its branch on Spring Hill Drive.

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Valdora Ward, a self-taught artist whose work has been exhibited at various local venues, is known for her creative approach to wildlife art. She paints on a variety of different surfaces, including feathers, gourds, bottles, canvas, cloth and umbrellas. "I never know what I'm going to paint," she says. "I just paint what I like." An original volunteer at the City Hall Art Gallery, she continues to be active in the Spring Hill Art League and the Hernando County Fine Arts Council.

In addition, the gallery's summer exhibit will feature the works of Craig Mylrea, Suzanne Lovell and Roy Williams, plus handmade quilts by the Hernando Quilters, ship models by the Suncoast Ship Model Society, photographs by the Spring Hill Camera Club and a selection of poetry by members of Just Poets.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1435.

If you go

Art in City Hall

The Brooksville City Hall Art Gallery, 201 Howell Ave., Brooksville, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Admission is free.

Brooksville City Hall Art Gallery marks 10 years with original artists 05/21/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 21, 2009 2:10pm]

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