‘Into the Blue’ dives into Chautauqua Visual Arts’ community

  • Pieces are displayed in the open CVA members exhibition "Into the Blue" Aug. 11, 2023 in Fowler-Kellogg Art Center. Dave Munch/Photo Editor
  • Subagh Khalsa's "Fish"
  • Eric Olson's "Tree of Life #4"
  • From left, Shirley Dort's "Shipyard", Cathleen Ross' ""Azul In Flux" and Sally Hootnick's "Lake View"
  • Hope Gelfand Alcorn's "Marine Illusions (Diptych)"
  • Pieces are displayed in the open CVA members exhibition "Into the Blue."
  • Passle Helminski's "Waiting"

Julia Weber
Staff writer

Chautauqua Visual Arts is wrapping up its season with this year’s exhibiting member show, titled “Into the Blue.”

The collection of pieces highlights the talent of the Chautauqua Visual Arts community and uplifts the vibrant arts scene already on the grounds. The exhibition features Chautauqua artists working in mediums like paint, photography, textiles and sculpture. Situated in Fowler-Kellogg Art Center, “Into the Blue” celebrates the beauty of not just the Institution, but of the entire Earth. The exhibition closes today.

This season’s theme, of course, welcomes blue tones, melancholic moods, and land and seascapes through various interpretations and mediums introduced into the conversation. “Into the Blue” emphasizes the classical while looking to contemporary, modern techniques, too.

Pieces like Pam Spremulli’s “CHQ Blues,” Rita Argen Auerbach’s “Wash,” Janet Hyland’s “Winter on the Lake” and “Movement in Blues,” Janice Stefko’s “Chautauqua Blooms No. 5” and “Chautauqua Blooms  No. 7” and Gail Gamble’s “Chautauqua Countryside,” capture the beauty of the grounds through different seasons and different subjects.

While many pieces pay homage to Chautauqua and its grounds, “Into the Blue” also hosts a selection of other land and seascapes, highlighting the beauty all around us. The collection of these works ask viewers to engage in a conversation and delve “into the blue.”

Filling the gallery walls, the landscapes in this collection of work pay tribute to a number of art movements. Artists in the exhibition find inspiration in everything from the loose brush strokes and emphasis on light and “en plein air” creation of Impressionism, the sublime of Romanticism, and the heavily abstracted and distorted natures of abstract expressionism and contemporary landscapes.

“Pond Reflection” by Susan Hood, “Blue Bayou” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Lynn LeFauve, “Lake View” by Sally Hootnick, “Murmuration: A Prayer for Ukraine” by Anne Cutri and “Packard Manor” by Bob Jeffrey are just some of the works that exist in the middle space between fully realized landscape paintings and abstract expressionist portrayals of nature, providing a bridge between styles and engaging with viewers about all that a landscape can include.

Leaning even further into abstraction and representative work, Belinda Rogers’ “Harmonic Abstraction in Blue 2,” Nancy Nelson’s “Permanent Impermanence,” Gary Johns’ “Blue Boy Re-Imagined” Nos. 1 and 2, Hope Gelfand Alcorn’s “Marine Illusions (Diptych),” among many others, test the proverbial waters of the exhibition, asking viewers to consider abstraction in landscapes and how the works fit into the broader conversation. 

“Into the Blue” incorporates installation and textile pieces like Judith Gregory’s tea bag installation piece, Cynthia Norton’s “Hand-painted linen shirt,” and Passle Helminski’s fiber sculpture titled “Waiting.” Sculptural pieces are interspersed through the gallery, further exploring the theme.

Subagh Khalsa and Eric Olson’s sculptures are both heavily inspired by the environment, but in different ways. Khalsa’s ash sculptures focus on climate change, while Olson gravitates toward meditation and understanding how natural elements come into existence.

Audrey Kay Dowling’s stoneware ceramics explore the fluidity of ceramics and the fluidity of a pool at Bemus Creek where Dowling grew up. While in conversation with the other sculptures in the exhibition, Dowling’s work examines nature through a more autobiographical lens. 

Photography by Jeffrey Vreeland and Wayne Desbrow depict wildly different subjects, pushing the boundaries of the exhibition’s theme. Vreeland’s photography compilation shows up-close images of shiny, reflective surfaces, while Desbrow’s portrait depicts daily life and humanity.

The exhibition is diverse not only in medium, but in message. While the overarching theme, of course, is “Into the Blue” and welcomes common traits, there’s quite a range of art being showcased by some of Chautauqua’s many artists.

“Into the Blue” demonstrates a wide breadth of style, artistry and craft emerging from the CVA exhibiting members, a fitting celebration as the season comes to an end.


The author Julia Weber

Julia Weber is a rising junior in Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College where she is majoring in journalism and minoring in art history. Originally from Athens, Ohio, this is her first summer in Chautauqua and she is thrilled to cover the theater and dance performances. She serves as the features editor for Ohio University’s All-Campus Radio Network, a student-run radio station and media hub, and she is a former intern for Pittsburgh Magazine. Outside of her professional life, Julia has a newly adopted cat, Griffin, and she is an avid fan of live music and a dedicated ceramicist.