The Arts Council of the Valley presents the paintings of Ann Cheeks at the Darrin-McHone Gallery in the Smith House. In coordination with the First Fridays Downtown, Cheeks’ show opens Friday, Aug. 7, from 5-7 p.m.
There will complimentary food and beverages for the public to enjoy while exploring the landscape, seascape and forest paintings. The pleasant use of color and texture encourages the viewer to simply look and appreciate the beauty in each piece.
The subject matter for Cheeks’ body of work is overlooked places and moments in nature. Cheeks explains that the places which she chooses to paint “calm and bring me back to what is real and important in the world”. The tranquil and often cathartic images reflect the elegance in nature and the power of existence itself. Moved by “the heat of the sun, the roar of the ocean, and the smell of the earth,” Cheeks creates paintings of places where one can “just be.” Although her subject matter may be simple, her method is surely not simplistic.
The large-scale paintings are mixed media, including acrylic, fabric and pastel. Cheeks’ technique for her paintings speaks to her personal experience and her past. Originally, Cheeks created traditional quilts but felt that the process for patchwork, appliqué and quilting stitches not only took too long but also resulted in pieces that were too stiff. She began to experiment, leading to the development of the technique she currently uses. In the body of work at the Smith House, the paintings are created by first making a loose painting on stretched canvas. Next she proceeds to add fabric to the foreground and finishes by adding in details with pastels. The variety of media adds interest to each painting as the viewer can observe the texture and depth in her work.
Cheeks, a Charlottesville resident, has a variety of experiences, both professional and personal, that have developed her skills and interests. After receiving her B.F.A. at Virginia Commonwealth University, she worked in Washington D.C. for a few years as a graphic designer. Cheeks then transitioned to mainly working as a freelance designer. Cheeks returned to her art and began teaching art to others after she took a pause while raising her two sons. Her work has been in solo and group exhibitions in The Nature Gallery at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science, The Women’s Institute and Gallery in New Harmony, Indiana and Second Street Gallery, Charlottesville, Virginia. The National Institutes of Health, University of Virginia Cancer Center and the Martha Jefferson Hospital Women’s Center have all purchased work by Cheeks. The restful and graceful quality of her paintings is evidenced in the buying of work by these health centers that seek to bring a sense of repose to their patients.
As a member of the McGuffey Art Center, Cheeks has served with this co-operative art center on the executive committee. She coordinated community outreach projects, such as “Planet Art” and “the Holiday Open House.” Cheeks also volunteered during the past year and a half on “Forest Discoveries”, an intense program that joined art and science for two Boys & Girls Clubs, culminating in a professional show at the McGuffey Art Center. Recently Cheeks has returned to her graphic design background as the need for clear communication grows. Apparent in her life of service, she has worked to make art accessible to many people. The Arts Council of the Valley is pleased to be showing her paintings and supporting the work of this community-oriented artist.
The Arts Council of the Valley’s monthly exhibitions are open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. For more information, please visit www.ValleyArts.org or call 540.801.8779.