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Watson MacRae Gallery to kick off new season in color

By Staff | Nov 5, 2019


Showcasing the work of three artists, the Watson MacRae Gallery on Sanibel will host an opening reception next week for its first exhibit of its 12th season and the pieces are themed on color.

Running into early December, the exhibit “Colorscapes” will feature the work of oil painters Greg Biolchini and Ann Sklar, along with pieces by clay sculptor Sheryl Zacharia. Open to the community, the reception will take place on Nov. 12 from 5 to 7 p.m. Both Biolchini and Sklar will be present.

“I wanted to start the season off with something beautiful and uplifting – and reflective of our islands,” gallery owner Maureen Watson said. “The three artists use colors as their primary means of expressing how they feel about nature or a subject.”

Based out of Fort Myers, Biolchini is a nationally-known pastelist and portrait painter. She explained that his switch to oils has enabled Biolchini’s new pieces to have the softness and smoothness of pastels, but with the vibrancy and depth that an artist can only achieve when working with oil paints.

He will exhibit five pieces from Florida Skies – the colors of sunsets and sunrises.


“He only paints what he loves,” Watson said, adding that he created the paintings based on pictures taken of the summer’s dawns and dusks. “All of his work is based on nature and what he sees.”

She noted that people may even think Biolchini took some artistic license.

“Because they’re so extraordinary, so bright and beautiful,” Watson said, pointing out that islanders however will know he did not as they have most likely seen similar skies with their own eyes.

Sklar shows primarily in Maine and Philadelphia and is a new artist for the gallery.

“Her work is on the other side of the spectrum than Greg,” she said.


Also exhibiting five pieces, Sklar’s work entails quiet shapes and forms that depict the horizon and skies. Watson explained that while they are colorful oils, too, they are calmer in their approach.

“Her paintings want to invoke peace and calm and they are very contemplative,” she said.

“Hers is very abstractive, while Greg is very representative,” Watson added.

Complementing the exhibit will be Zacharia’s ceramic sculptures – carved, coiled and textured.

“She creates forms with the clay, but she uses it as her canvas,” she said, noting that Zacharia was a painter before turning to sculpting. “Her color makes the forms come alive – they’re lyrical.”

PHOTO PROVIDED Clutch crafted by Mary van de Wiel.

She explained that Zacharia likes relics and abstract art, glazes and colors.

“Her work is always abstractive,” Watson said, adding that viewers however can still make out the subject of the piece, like a fish in one of them. “It’s the color and form that creates an interest.”

Also in November, Watson will hold a trunk show – which she only does occasionally.

“I’m bringing back the trunk shows,” she said of the new season.

On Nov. 25-27 from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., “Black Line Crazy” will showcase bags, clutches and wraps crafted by Mary van de Wiel. Watson noted that she will be making her debut in the United States.

“She’s going to bring her line of portable art,” she said.

“It’s her signature design based on her paintings,” Watson added.

She noted that the high-quality handmade items are lightweight, so perfect for Florida.

“They’re really very stylish,” Watson added.

For the rest of the season, the gallery will rotate through monthly exhibits from December to April.

“What I wanted to do was to do something different,” she said of the selected themes and corresponding work and artists. “They’re more eclectic than what I’ve shown before.”

The exhibits will include:

– Dec. 10 to Jan. 11: “Art and Crafts”

– Jan. 14 to Feb. 8: “Hollis and Friends”

– Feb. 11 to March 7: “In Love with This Earth”

– March 10 to April 4: “Glass Menagerie” and “The Beauty of Japan”

– April 7 to July 31: “Summer Salon 2020”

To kick off the season, the community is invited to come out for the opening of “Colorscapes.”

“It will be a very beautiful and interesting show and the openings are always fun,” Watson said, adding that it also is an opportunity to catch up following the off-season. “See what’s new and exciting.”

For more information, call 239-472-3386.

The Watson MacRae Gallery is at 2340 Periwinkle Way, Suite G1.