For 39 years, volunteers maintained a changing art gallery in the reception area of the church. But last fall, as volunteer support waned, the gallery committee dedicated its efforts to the creation of a welcoming, meaningful, permanent exhibit. They searched for months for artwork that would have a spiritual connection. It was a challenging task, for art is very personal and no one form or style would appeal to all. Many artists were invited to present work and over 100 submissions were received. After careful evaluation, twelve pieces emerged as the final selection. The Westminster Permanent Collection was unveiled in early September.
Featured artists include Rochelle Blumenfeld, Alexandra Eldridge, Shari Finney, Peggi Habets, Bill Vrscak, Ron Donoughe, Ron Thurston, Justin George and Michael Burch of New Academy Press, Nancy Koch, Maura Kohler Keeney, and Pam George-Valone.
And in the midst of all is an original Japanese folk art print by Sadao Watanabe. When the concept of a permanent collection was first introduced, the name Watanabe was suggested. Only one of the committee recognized the name; but within a few months, everyone knew the story of this humble man, whose works can be found in major museums throughout the world, the White House, and the Vatican. This bonding came about because shortly after the quest for artwork began, two members of the gallery committee were in the church archives searching for historical data, when one discovered an article in an October 1977 issue of the church’s newsletter announcing the opening of “The Gallery” and describing at length the technique and fame of the sole exhibiting artist — Sadao Watanabe! The two looked at each other in disbelief. The finding was unnerving — it was like a “God wink.” A biblical print by Watanabe became essential.
Everyone is welcome to view Westminster’s Permanent Collection and the Members’ Showcase during hours the church office is open: weekdays 8:30 – 4 and Sunday 8:30 – noon.
In addition to the Permanent Collection, the gallery committee felt it is equally important to recognize and feature artwork of our talented church members. This hallway space is dedicated to this ministry. The member pieces now on display have been donated or provided on long-term loan. Periodically, there will be opportunities for artists to change their work, and for other interested members to display new artwork. In addition, this space will be available for short-term exhibits that highlight special projects or the outreach mission of the church.
Current member artists include Nancy Barnard, Sandy Conley, Mary Lou Dickson, Nancy Douglass, Wendy Golia, Susan Haddad, Eric Harrison, Ted Kyle, Doug Mitchell, Virginia Parmelee, Shari Valicenti, Pam George-Valone, Lynn Walliser, Sue Wyble, and Marilyn Zelt.