By Maia Vines
A large watercolor painting of blue water lilies with green and purple hues hangs above the mantle in a brightly lit room. In the corner of the piece are tall green reeds that flow into the lily pad-filled pond. This piece is part of Women Sharing Art Inc’s “Arboretum Inspirations” at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River, Long Island.
The artist of the water lily painting, Victoria Beckert, is one of 33 artists that participated in the exhibit. She is a founding member and the vice president of Women Sharing Art, which hosts exhibits and gallery shows like this throughout the year.
“We try to do some interesting things and get everyone together to promote each other’s work,” Beckert, who also teaches watercolor workshops at the arboretum, said.
“Artists that have come that might not feel comfortable at first have grown in the organization with their work year after year. It’s pretty amazing.”
Women Sharing Art was created in 2008 by Sue Miller, a photographer, to promote art in women and help artists develop and showcase their talents. It has since grown from a small group of five Long Island female artists to now 34.
“The organization gives us a place to show our work and meet other women who are doing art,” Sheri Berman, a potter and collage artist, said. “For me it’s been very expanding. It’s helped me grow as an artist.”
Besides gallery and library shows, the organization fundraises for student art scholarships every year. The proceeds from purchased art and jewelry at the shows go to these scholarships. This past February, the organization gave away two 500 dollar scholarships to students who wish to pursue a career in the arts.
A memorial scholarship has recently been established in honor of a founding member, Pat D’Aversa, who passed away last October.
Members of the organization teach a variety of monthly art classes including collage, sketching and pastel painting. The organization also hosts trips to art shows, print shops and craft schools such as their yearly trip to Snow Farm, a residential craft school in New England.
“That’s how we’ve all learned and gotten better and more developed because we do support each other and go to all these different places,” Sue Miller, the president of Women Sharing Art, said.
“Just to have that exposure of art is really inspiring and just to be apart of that kind of community of other artists that really are supportive of each other is wonderful,” Kathleen Larocca, a new member, said.
Women Sharing Art’s “Arboretum Inspirations” can still be viewed at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum until May 5. Members, Sheri Berman, Holly Black, Julianna Kirk and Gail Neuman, will have more of their their work exhibited at the Long Island Museum as part of the “I Sing the Body Electric” show, beginning on May 3.