Judi Cermak, known for felted wool and fiber paintings, recently created a one-of-a-kind, handpainted purse that evokes the nighttime beauty of Canandaigua’s iconic end of summer celebration, the Ring of Fire. Cermak’s former student Amy Colburn, an illustrator and muralist, used her artistic talent to paint a canvas bag inspired by her favorite local artists, including Cermak. Both purses are featured in a silent auction during Pursapalooza, a purse and jewelry sale on Dec. 1 at Wood Library, 134 N. Main St., Canandaigua.
“We are so fortunate that so many local artists responded to our invitation to donate a handpainted purse for our fundraiser,” said Tina Manzer, event chairperson. “People are going to be blown away by these very special bags which double as works of art.”
Cermak, of Canandaigua, taught art in Bloomfield Central School District for 32 years. After she retired in 1996, Cermak became a volunteer for Ontario County Arts Council and eventually served as president of its board. OCAC sponsors the Finger Lakes Plein Air Competition and Festival in Canandaigua. Cermak is known for her felted wool and roving fiber paintings, which she creates with needle felting tools. Cermak takes classes in drawing, painting, printmaking and ceramics at Finger Lakes Community College.
Colburn creates wall murals, some of which can be found in downtown Canandaigua, as well as detailed oil paintings in the style of contemporary realism. Her paintings are mostly still-life, with items grouped together to evoke nostalgia and tell a story. Certain textures are prevalent in Colburn’s paintings, such as vintage glass, rusty metal and old paper and fabric. Her purse was inspired by the artwork of some of her favorite local artists — Nancy Wiley's portraiture, the abstract surrealism of Meredith Mallwitz's landscape paintings and the symbolism in Cermak's work.
Kathleen Connor, of Canandaigua, is a former elementary art educator and graphic artist who now enjoys artistic painting. She explored many paint mediums, but prefers to work with oils and the plein air experience. She competed in the Billsboro Plein Air Festival, is a committee member for Finger Lakes Plein Air Festival and studied with plein air artists from around the region, across the country and in Europe. She pours creative energy into restoring historic homes to their original glory.
Rachel Cordaro, of Rochester, spent her entire life making art. She grew up with parents who inspired and encouraged her to experiment in multiple genres. Cordaro is a full-time professional painter and textile artist. Her floral works are known for their “broad, thick strokes and strong centers that carry a flare of confidence into the blossoms,” and gained her notoriety throughout Rochester. Her pieces can be found in many of the city’s boutiques.
Kathy Ann Morris, of Canandaigua, has always created something. During a middle school teaching career that spanned three decades, she dabbled in all sorts of crafts and hobbies. More recently, she pursued 2-D art. Having had no formal college art instruction, Morris sought other local artists to instruct and mentor her. From a tiny bedroom studio in her home to classes, workshops and en plein air, Morris hones her skills in oil, pastel, watercolor, acrylics and alcohol inks.
“When a painting goes well, there are only a few feelings of satisfaction quite like it,” Morris said. “It is even more exciting and rewarding when my work speaks to another person."
Margaret Post, of Canandaigua, followed her passion and studied studio art with concentrations in textiles and photography. Post continued her education through various workshops in drawing and painting, and discovered a love of oil painting through her mentor, Pat Rini Rohrer. She exhibited regionally in various shows and galleries, including Rehoboth Beach Art League in Delaware. Currently, Post exhibits at Pat Rini Rohrer Gallery in Canandaigua. The inspiration for her purse, “Flower Power,” is the current fashion trends that lean towards the ‘70s style of bell sleeves and frayed jeans.
Dory Romanowski, of Bloomfield, is a landscape painter inspired by the beauty of the land, lakes and creatures she observes. She works with artists at The Cheshire Union Gift Shop, where she has a studio and offers classes in acrylic painting and nature drawing. She likes to think of her paintings as capturing a moment in time that gave her pleasure.
Joanne Sharpe, of Rochester, is an energetic, whimsical artist dedicated to empowering women to embrace their own creativity through online classes and traveling workshops that explore art, sewing, journaling, hand lettering as well as mixed media and textile art. She is the author of “The Art of Whimsical Lettering,” which was named an Amazon Editor's Pick for Best Craft Book of 2014. Sharpe is a Bernina artisan ambassador, and shares her love of threads and fabric with an audience eager to learn how to create art from these media.
Karen Sorce, of Canandaigua, had a long career at Constellation Brands before taking up drawing, painting and writing in retirement. She studies and shares a passion for art at Pat Rini Rohrer Gallery with a group of artists. She completed a graphic design degree at FLCC, which added more tools to her creative toolbox. In addition to painting and drawing, she recently published two children’s books. Sorce observes and photographs the natural world and uses it for inspiration. Her purse design was inspired by fields of sunflowers around the Finger Lakes and a book written by a friend where sunflowers figure prominently in the story.
Mark Stash, of Rushville, has a great respect for the outdoors, wildlife and the natural world — themes he captures in acrylic, watercolor and pencil. He continually experiments with his style, and captures the dramatic light and colors that make everyday scenes spectacular. A graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Stash is editor and co-owner of Life in the Finger Lakes. His work can be found in several local galleries, including Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs and Artizanns in Naples in addition to his studio and gallery in Rushville.
Cheryl Leonard Van Denburg, of Canandaigua, began painting seriously at an early age. Travel and “wanderlust” took her to faraway places, and painting was always her closest friend. A love of the sea and water is a strong influence. Van Denburg paints in watercolor and oil, and her work is characterized by movement and mood. A sculptured quality appears in her art thanks to studying bronze sculpture with Wayne Williams at FLCC. Her paintings can be found in corporate and private collections throughout the U.S. and Europe.
After a career in art education in New Jersey, Denise Van Deroef, of Naples, settled in the Bristol Hills and was inspired by the beautiful scenery surrounding her every season. She connected with other artists, and got involved with OCAC. She is an OCAC board member and its secretary, and coordinates the council’s rotating art exhibits. As an active painter of scenic landscapes, her acrylic, oil, watercolor and pastel works are often displayed in local businesses and galleries. As an art educator, Van Deroef is tapped to teach art at many area libraries including Bristol, Bloomfield and Victor Farmington public libraries.
Pursapalooza starts with a Champagne Presale from 5 to 6 p.m. Tickets cost $25 in advance, $30 at the door. The Champagne Presale offers ticket holders first dibs on all merchandise, a raffle ticket for purses donated by local celebrities and savory and sweet treats donated by local restaurants, plus a glass of champagne. The doors open for general admission at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Guests can shop until 8 p.m. while enjoying live entertainment, wine and snacks.
Tickets are available online and at Wood Library during regular business hours. Proceeds will benefit the library’s programs for adults, including lectures, classes, film nights and author visits.
Call 585-394-1381 or visit woodlibrary.org for information.