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January 23, 2012

Do you like this?

The wind whistles down Harrison Street, wrapping its icy fingers around you. Winter’s suffocating embrace has arrived in Easton and thoughts of escape come to mind. Looking for a low-budget get-away? Slip into Easton’s new art gallery, The Wagner Witte Gallery.

Inside this warmly lit art marketplace, a glance to your left takes you to the streets of New York City. Capturing the dizzying verticality of the Big Apple, Jill Basham’s oil painting transports you out of sleepy Easton and straight into the silver sky scrapers of the city.

Entering into the gallery space on your right will introduce you to a wide range of places, from colorful Indian marketplaces to fiery deserts to less-far-flung places like Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, all brought to life in chunky, tactile oil paint by Michael George Dean.

Step into another room and you are greeted with Paul and Holly Fine’s glossy photographs of bright scenes of warmer days, with sunflowers bobbing against a bright blue sky and cotton candy clouds. Moving on to the art of Danny Doughty, famous Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera come to mind while gazing at the bright hues, stylized human forms, and country motifs of Doughty’s folkloric work illustrating life on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Another wall displays more work of painter Jill Basham with everything from tranquil seascapes to a painting of Georgetown in Washington D.C., the hustle and bustle of our nation’s capital depicted with the blurred motion of traffic buzzing up and down Wisconsin and M Streets.

Pass through another doorway and you are back to the front room greeted by the arresting portraits of Susan Fay Schauer and the intricate sculpture of Lawrence Reid Bechtel, who has recreated everything from a sober bust of Frederick Douglass to a whimsical statue of a buxom mermaid.

A buzzing sound announces the presence of an artist hard at work right around the corner. Creating wearable works of art out of glass, metal, and more, jewelry artist Sharon Stockley leans over today’s creations, delicately molded faces dusted with shimmery colors waiting to adorn a customer’s neck or ears. Nearby, other wearable works of art are found in the honey-colored leather bags created by Dennis Napolitan.

Whether you long for other locales or merely yearn for warmer days on the Chesapeake, check out watercolorist Liz Lind’s work with her trademark bold color palette and cheerful scenery. Lind’s paintings and giclee prints capture wide-ranging scenes from the sailing traditions of Annapolis and the Eastern Shore to a zany representation of Paris’s parks and monuments. A somewhat similar but slightly less whimsical style is seen in Jim Reynolds's paintings, which offer waterfront views throughout the Eastern Shore and a more traditional use of color. Both artists offer a respite from winter’s doldrums, recalling idyllic days watching sailboats dance across the area’s many waterways.

Come check out The Wagner Witte Gallery and see these artworks for yourself. As co-owner Kathleen Witte notes, “We have something for men, women, children—everyone.” Indeed, this welcoming new art space speaks to a wide range of art enthusiasts, from local collectors to tourists looking for a keepsake of their trip to the Eastern Shore. Stop in on a wintry afternoon or add it to your First Friday Gallery Walk itinerary—you won’t be disappointed.

The Wagner Witte Gallery is owned by Jennifer Wagner and Kathleen Witte and is at 5 North Harrison Street, across from the Tidewater Inn. Call 443-521-4084 or 410-490-2868 for details on upcoming exhibits including a flower-themed exhibit planned for March.

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January 23, 2012

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