There was no lack of talent at the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center’s Whiskey Painters of America opening reception, as the group recently celebrated its 34th annual show on the Front Street promenade with all featured artists on hand to answer questions.
Visitors and artists alike studied the miniature watercolors and were allowed to vote for their favorite renditions of landscapes, various flora and fauna, and peoples of all shapes, shades and situations.
The CVAC was the perfect location for these tiny wonders of art. There was ample natural light, a plus for the artist sitting up front doing some live painting, whiskey bottles prominently displayed. There was a lot of room for people to mill around and through the gallery, which guests greatly appreciated because the gallery filled up quickly with visitors. People spilled out the front door, a sign that tiny paintings are a big draw.
Denny Stroiber, one of the featured artists, had several of his seascapes hanging prominently by the front entrance. “I find myself gravitating to water. The first time it was sort of architectural water,” he says. “This time it’s more involved, directly involved with water.”
His entry, “Twilight Track,” a painting of sailboat, is an interesting study in blues. Works from Miniature Artists of America (MAA) were also featured in the exhibit, with Sandra Dennison’s paintings clearly smaller than the those of her neighbors. The MAA is an invitational organization which accepts no more than 10 artists each year.
Whiskey Painters began quite simply. Joe Ferriot traveled a lot on business and often took his art supplies with him in a small aspirin box: a small screw-together-paintbrush, watercolors and strips of watercolor paper. After working a full day, he would settle into a bar, pub or otherwise conveniently located “watering hole” where he would sit and paint, using a shot of whiskey as a wetting agent.
The WPA was formally named and chartered in 1962 at a meeting of like-minded individuals at the Tangier’s Night Club in Akron. Aside from the formal charter, there are some unwritten rules for members: 1) applicants must paint a watercolor “by candlelight after 10 p.m.” and 2) the brush must be dipped in “some form of alcohol.” It is quite possibly the only organization of its kind.
The show runs through May 12 at the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center, located at 2131 Front St., in Cuyahoga Falls. For more information about the exhibit, go to www.cvartcenter.org/exhibitsevents.html.
For more information about Whiskey Painters of America, go to www.whiskeypaintersofamerica.org.
For more information about MAA, go to www.miniatureartistsofamerica.org.