Animals and a Child’s Eye – Two Exhibits

The small but mighty Marion Art Center (MAC) has been bringing the beauty of artistic creations in its many forms to the local community for decades. That was never truer than with the current exhibits unveiled on March 1 titled “Students of Sippican and Menagerie.”

            On the first floor gallery walls are 31 works of art depicting farm animals. If you are a regular visitor to any social media platform, Facebook for instance, there are animal pictures and videos aplenty that capture your time and attention. But seeing farm animal images painted and drawn with such expert care and attention and in real life is thrilling.

            Artists from several states and local communities lent their canvasses for the Menagerie exhibit. From Vermont were seven pieces created by Stephanie Bush, whose study of black and white cows had a photographic quality.

            Local artist Jane Bregoli’s rendering of Flossy Pig is a gentle depiction in pink tones on brown, while Heide Hallemeier’s King of the Flock watercolor gives Mr. Rooster his pride of place via masterful use of the medium.

            Hallemeier is a frequent exhibitor at the MAC who studied art in Vienna in what she described as “very excellent training in technique.” But she put aside artistic aspirations to partner with her husband in an engineering business and raise her children before returning to the art world.

            “Once the kids were gone, you know, I went back to painting,” she said with a gentle smile.

            As for Nancy Whitin’s donkey and horse pastels, one could almost reach out and touch the soft warm noses of the braying Equidae.

            Whitin’s use of vibrant reds and orange tones for the donkeys’ coats are breathtaking. But more striking are the facial expressions she captured.

            “I didn’t make that up,” Whitin said of the smiling faces she drew. She said she works from photographs and is always on the lookout for donkeys when traveling. “They have their own personalities,” she said. Then, to prove her point, she shared photographs she had taken with her phone. There they were, donkeys – smiling, winking, and casting loving eyes at the camera.

            While the first floor exhibit of glorious works of art executed by trained and talented women cannot be overstated, the second floor gallery displaying works of art created by students of Sippican School are, in two words, exciting and inspired.

            Entering the second floor gallery, one is thrown into a space awash in color. The walls are covered as if with a made-to-order wallpaper with drawings and paintings created by children – children whose unleased creative talents have produced unexpected results, not only through the wall hangings, but also through pottery. Atop a piano on the raised dais were the young artists’ sculptures.

            Sippican School Art Instructor Erin Kirk provided inspiration to the students by introducing them to such well-known and diverse artists as Gustav Klimt, Roy Lichtenstein, and sculpture Yayot Kusama. Through study of the artists’ non-traditional styles, books provided by the Elizabeth Tabor Library, and classroom discussions, Kirk’s students created their own takes on the artists’ works by giving them new life while making art a joyful expression of the child’s inner creative capabilities and aspirations.

            If you need to brighten up these last few weeks of winter with art that is not only world class but vibrant with youthful joy, stop by the Marion Art Center at 80 Pleasant Street and take in these two exhibits now through the end of March. For exhibit hours visit

By Marilou Newell

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