Mary Whyte’s exhibition “A Portrait of Us” opened this past weekend at the Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando, Florida. Iwas beyond excited to see her work in person, since I’m a big admirer and have read most of her books, (see book reviews here), but then to meet her during a gallery talk on Saturday was an incredible opportunity!
Mary is the nicest and most beautiful person as her paintings are stunning. She shared a bit about her background and how she came to paint the Gullah womenon John’s Island in South Carolina, as well as a brief story and sometimes a bit of technical insight on every painting in the exhibition. In addition her husbandSmith Coleman, Smitty, was there to discuss how he complements her work with the frames he hand makes, and the process that goes into carving and finishing the frames to enhance the paintings even farther. All of Mary's paintings were framed by frames made by Smitty. The frames as well as the work were absolutely beautiful.
Knowing the stories and the thought process that went into each work gave me an even bigger appreciation of what I was seeing. It was such a unique opportunity to experience the artists giving a narrative of every piece in the show! I loved one thing Mary said when discussing her work and that was, “What do you want the piece to say, and then how can say more.” Something to keep in the back of my head while composing and painting my own work.
The show will be running from now until January 3, 2016. I plan to go back again since I know I will have a different experience another time. This show is not to be missed especially for artists who paint in watercolor!