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A Walk in the Country art exhibit

By Forrest Greenslade
Posted Sunday, September 6, 2009

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Pittsboro, NC - The August/September art exhibit at the Carolina Brewery and Grill in Pittsboro is joyous exploration of today’s Chatham County country life. Phyllis Burns, Shannon Bueker and Cherie Westmoreland craft charming animals and pastoral scenes in clay and canvas. Please join the Chatham Artists Guild in a "Meet the Artists Reception" on Sunday, September 6 from 4 to 6 pm.

Phyllis H. Burns, a native of Chatham County, NC, grew up on the small self-sufficient farms of her grandparents. She was exposed to nature in ways few people see today. Her love for animals and plants influenced her art and her desire to show the public the beauty of what we take for granted.

The old white farmhouse that has been in the Burns family for generations is where she and her husband raised their three children. Phyllis was educated as a veterinary technician and spent her early years as a housewife and mother. Later she worked as an apprentice at Stone Crow Pottery. Her interest in painting, always in the background, finally surfaced. She left her job as a potter; began studying on her own and taking workshops.

She says, “I have lived in Chatham County all my life and many generations of my family are deeply rooted in this county. Creativity is an activity that has dominated my life. It is my hope to stir a beautiful or sweet memory that will help you remember how precious our planet is.”

Shannon Bueker grew up the fifth of six children, spending most of her childhood in San Antonio, Texas. She explains, “I have always drawn. I won my first competition in the fourth grade and have been taking art classes and making things ever since. I earned my BFA in 1987 from the University of Texas at Austin. My greatest challenge there was sculpture, my greatest relaxation painting, and my greatest joy life drawing. Anatomy is fascinating to me and animal anatomy more so because it is so accessible and unhidden. I think animals are just beautiful. My childhood sketchbooks are filled with drawings of the grown-up me as a zookeeper or artist surrounded by animals. So my path has always felt pretty clear.”

Narrative is showing up in Bueker’s work lately. Her most recent works look like there is a story going on. “I want more interaction between the players in the composition. My interest continues to be with color, line and gesture. Gesture is the backbone of my approach. I am fascinated by and challenged to see how much shape and power I can express with the simplest of lines and strokes.” She notes.

Cherie Westmoreland, after graduating from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelors degree in studio art (printmaking and drawing), worked in the Artists-in-the-Schools Programs for the South Carolina Arts Commission. In the late 1970s, Westmoreland was a participating artist in Center Gallery in Carrboro and taught classes for Durham Technical Institute and the Carrboro Arts Center. From 1981 she has been a book designer, currently at Duke University Press.

“I began experimenting with clay in 1996, creating handbuilt sculptures, faces, tiles, bowls, pots, and wall art for indoor and garden display (recurrent imagery includes: birds, particularly crows, vines, ferns, and fish). My work also includes laser print photographic transfers fired onto clay.”

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