Sunday, September 7, 2014

Does artistry run in families?

Catch sisters Diane Gray & Deborah Rolig at OC Art League Oct. 3, 2014 - 5 pm

OCEAN CITY -- Is artistic talent in the genes? Attendees will get to ponder the question at “Symbiosis: Sisters, Muses, Mentors,” an exhibition of paintings by sisters Deborah Rolig and Diane (Dee) Gray, Oct. 3 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Art League of Ocean City’s Center for the Arts. The opening is free and open to the public.

The event is the pair’s first shared exhibition, although both have been working artists for more than 20 years. Rolig, of Snow Hill, is a fine artist whose work is familiar to many on the Eastern Shore, while Gray, of Lewes, Delaware, has a background in nationally distributed graphic design. While each has a distinctive style, an undeniably reflective thread runs through their paintings, as the two closely collaborate while conceptualizing and creating.

“We always have collaborated and encouraged each other through almost every painting over the phone and in photo texts,” said Gray. “We are always open and honest, and cheerleaders for each other to keep pressing on. We both ‘get’ each other when it comes to our art.”

Rolig’s paintings have a narrative quality that juxtaposes bits of realism on abstract fields. The rich textures and layers of color give the viewer a sense of the evolution of each painting. Gray’s work incorporates a unique illustrative style combined with vintage papers, a touch of charcoal pencil, affirming messages, acrylics and glazes.

Rolig graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing. Early in her career, she painted murals for a government-funded program called Art for Public. Her recent work is represented by several galleries on the Eastern Shore, including Bishop’s Stock Gallery in Snow Hill MD, Nest in Berlin, MD and two Rehoboth Galleries - Philip Morton Gallery and Gallery 50.

Gray is a graduate of the former Maryland College of Art and Design. Her 20 year career as founder and president of Boomerang Studios, a graphic design and illustration firm, has included many award-winning design projects for high-profile clients. She has also found time to pursue a licensing venture, Green Street Garden Party, that introduces sustainable living to children through vividly illustrated characters. Under the signature label Gathered Curiosities, she creates mixed-media items using found objects and upcycled art, which can be purchased at several area shops including The Green Doors and Serenity Shoppes in Snowhill and “Nest” in Berlin, Maryland.

Gray and Rolig are also partners in ShaDeeLa Creative Workshops, periodic classes that provide participants with meaningful personal explorations through art. They are the daughters of Severna Park artist Richard H. Harryman, whose own work is known for its evocative scenes of the Chesapeake Bay region. So it seems that artistry, for these sisters, really is a family affair.

“We are both inspired by each other’s work,” said Gray. “I think without our mutual support, creatively and psychologically, we might not still be at it.”

The Center for the Arts is located at 502 94th Street in Ocean City. “Symbiosis” runs through the month of October.
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