March was an auspicious month for the Artists of Yardley (AOY), as they hosted two pop-up shows for the 18 artists of Trenton’s ANEW Artist Alliance (ANEW).
During the weekends of March 4th to 6th and March 18th to 20th, the ANEW artists exhibited their works for sale and were on hand to speak to attendees about their art.
AOY coordinator Bette Sovinee responded to a Facebook post by ANEW because “it was clear to me that these artists have their own following…and they brought people from Princeton to AOY.”
The home of a Princeton resident has served as the temporary gallery space for the ANEW Artist Alliance.
With the advent of Covid, ANEW was not able to meet every Tuesday as it customarily did–to share works in progress with fellow artists, critique, and offer support to each other.
I had the opportunity to zoom-chat with two ANEW artists, Paul Norris and Warcheerah Kilima, about how they came to the organization, their training as artists, and about the importance of the Alliance in their lives as artists.
As Paul Norris told Mandee Hammerstein on her WDVR “Creative Conversations” weekly broadcast: “The Alliance pushes us to be better and to try different ways to paint.”
For example, Paul mainly uses watercolors and oils; he shied away from acrylics since they dry so fast. Encouraged by his colleagues, he plans to experiment with this medium.
Paul has also begun writing poems and using them as inspiration for his artwork.
Similarly, Warcheerah, an artist from Tanzania, finds ANEW to be “a safe place to share and exchange ideas.”
Living on the main island of Zanzibar, Warcheerah managed a gallery in the tourist industry, selling his art and that of other artists.
In 2010, he and his wife, a professor at the College of New Jersey, came to the United States. He displayed his work at JB Kline & Son Gallery in New Hope, but joined ANEW in 2014 because “you need other people to push you to reach your goals. You challenge each other.”
Paul started painting as part of a therapy program in prison. After parole, he was placed in the Rescue Mission of Trenton.
When he began eating at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, he also became a member of ANEW in 2011.
Paul loves the art of Vermeer and has painted his version of The Girl with the Pearl Earring and The Girl with a Red Hat. On a visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., with his fellow artists, Paul saw Vermeer’s original version of The Girl with a Red Hat, and was moved to tears.
When Warcheerah attended art school in Tanzania, he painted from models and still-lifes.
His portraits now are solely from his imagination, each one using a different technique to illustrate the person’s facial characteristics.
Watercolor was the first medium Warcheerah used when he painted in Tanzania, but he found that the watercolor paper in this country had a different consistency than that of his homeland. Now he prefers pastels and acrylics.
When I asked him how it feels when one of his paintings is sold, Warcheerah replied, “I’m happy it’s found a home.”
AOY coordinator Bette Sovinee is happy that “we’ve made the connection and new friendships have formed! The exhibition gave us the opportunity to share…different type[s] of art with our community from unexpected artists. It expands our appreciation of the art and artists for their styles and work in our greater Yardley community.”
At their website, anewartists.com, one can view a sample of works created by each ANEW artist.
Their collective goal is to find a permanent space where they can meet to create, discuss and display their work, host visitors, as well as plan outreach activities.
PHOTO CAP: Participating artist Lisa Lewis displays her work