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Bloomington Watercolor Society invites community to celebrate Bicentennial



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Pieces made by members of the Bloomington Watercolor Society sit on display during their “Show and Share” September meeting in First Christian Church. The group will feature a series of watercolor works in honor of the Indiana Bicentennial at 5 p.m. Friday in the Monroe County History Center. Katelyn Rowe Buy Photos

The Bloomington Watercolor Society and the Monroe County History Center are teaming up to present a series of works celebrating the Indiana Bicentennial and the variety that exists in the aesthetic of Bloomington.

“We Paint ... the Bicentennial,” a collection of watercolor works inspired by the state’s 200th year, opens at 5 p.m. Friday in the Monroe County History Center. The reception is open to the public and will include music by IU cellist Claire Solomon.

Tricia Wente, one of the show’s coordinators and member of the watercolor society, said the show recently switched venues from the City Hall Atrium and she is excited to see the works surrounded by artifacts in the History Center.

“We’re excited about being there again,” Wente said. ”It’s a lovely place to have a reception, and it’ll be a lot of fun. People can look at a lot of different displays and see the art too.”

Anne-Karine Bley, the other coordinator and fellow society member, said the two have worked with members to get pieces ready for the show and establish an environment to celebrate the work the group has done over the year.

“We’ve planned to have a musician there so we have a nice ambiance, and we’ve partnered with the historical center to fit with the theme this year,” Bley said. “It’s been a process, but we’re happy we have a good show.”

The collection of paintings, many of which are available for purchase, will be up at the center until Feb. 18, 2017, in the building’s Hill Gallery, according to a press release from Emily Musgrave, Exhibits manager for Monroe County History Center.

The show is also the Bloomington Watercolor Society’s 11th Annual Membership Exhibit and the 25th show the group has presented since itsfounding in 2005.

Choosing the bicentennial as the theme for this collection allowed for a good range of pieces from members of the group, Wente said. In the past, the group has had much more particular subjects, such as a few years ago when members were sent to paint images of cemeteries.

“This show being the bicentennial, we were not held to the theme so much,” Wente said. “We were able to use that as our background, but our paintings, generally a lot of them are totally just creative pieces.”

Bley said seeing the combination of subject and location-inspired pieces has been a fascinating part of putting together this year’s show, as the 32 painters range from professional artists to beginners.

The painting Bley said she is including in the show is a representation of the historical Wylie House, as much of her work ends up having an architectural focus.

“Some artists have put in pictures that are historical locations, a lot of pieces that come from the plein air group arm of the Watercolor Society,” Bley said. “Those people have been painting on location for the last year. That’s kind of neat to see all the different places in the surrounding area that people have been painting.”

Wente said her piece is inspired by Peden Farm, a local farm that the society visits frequently for plein air, or on-site outdoor painting, because of both the farm and the events to which it is host for the children in the community.

“There’s an older farmhouse on-site and I stood there and painted that quickly,” Wente said. “I think it’s a wonderful place to visit.”

There are many reasons to come out and see the show, but Bley said mostly the Bloomington Watercolor Society aims to reach out to the community and share its art.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for them to see what people in their community are doing and promote the arts,” Bley said. “We have all different kinds of people in the group and it’s very relatable. It’s a great introduction to the community.”

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