20130417__0418SohnLarger2

By Laura Lofgren, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Posted: 04/18/2013 12:18:15 PM EDT
Updated: 04/18/2013 12:21:23 PM EDT

STOCKBRIDGE — Remember group projects, like the kind assigned in school, and having to find a balance in who does the work?

In this group effort, Denise Chandler’s “Dancing Poppy” (above) draws the eye in a colorful splash of focus, and a darker shade of the same vivid orange tinges the fallen leaves in Patrick Barry’s “Shenandoah Fog,” in a beautiful forest scene full of mystery.

Cassandra Sohn, owner of the Sohn Gallery, has joined forces with Chesterwood — the summer estate and studio of American sculptor Daniel Chester French, a nonprofit National Trust Historic Site in Stockbridge — to create the second annual Community Arts Exhibition.

“I’ve been working with them for the past year or so, and they have been so wonderful,” said Sohn, photographer and owner of Sohn Fine Art Gallery. “They make collaboration really easy, and it’s beneficial for both of us, both organizations. And that’s really part of the idea behind it. It is my goal of community and collaboration to keep the cultural vitality of the Berkshires alive.”

Sohn Fine Art is working with the artistic community to present the work of 19 local artists, to be judged at a closing reception on Saturday.

Donna Hassler, executive director of Chesterwood; Kathryn Price, curator of special projects at Williams College Museum of Art; and Sohn will judge the show, and they will announce the winners at 6 p.m. during a reception, which starts at 4 p.m.

“But the funny, just coincidental thing is that April 20 is Daniel Chester French’s birthday,” said Anne Cathcart, associate manager of collections and programs at Chesterwood. The exhibition will morph into another extension, celebrating his birthday as well.

The show has grown in its second year. A panel of jurors chose 24 pieces out of more than 500 entries, Sohn said.

“That’s twice as many as last year,” she said. “This year was an open theme. [Photographers] could submit up to 12 pieces. No more than two entries were accepted from each person.”

Last year, Sohn Gallery participated in the event with the nonprofit IS183 Art School. This spring, she works with Cathcart, Hassler and severall others, and Chesterwood will receive 20 percent of profits from the exhibition. Funds come from donations and sales of exhibition pieces, Sohn said.

“We were honored to be selected,” Cathcart said. “This is an extension of the other types of art that occur in Chesterwood.”

Cathcart said many people think Chesterwood is filled only with French’s work, but the museum continues to bring in contemporary artists each year, to draw in more community members with new works.

The Community Arts Exhibition, according to Sohn, aims to integrate arts, education and community and “to promote broader understanding of community engagement with photographic mediums.”

This year’s show has an open theme, so the exhibition has a wide range of topics.

Portraits range from that of a wide horse’s stare to a country couple standing in stark surroundings. Gene Elling’s “In dustrial Lullaby” raises questions on both parenting stances and the state in which families now have to operate because of variables from single parentint to a tough economy.

And the black and white photos offer severe contrasts between the past and present.

The judges’ first-place winner will get a chance to attend Sohn’s photography workshop, “Portraits, Landscapes and Place,” from Aug. 26-28. An exhibition of Chesterwood following the class will show photographs the students have taken.

Sohn’s exhibit will also have a People’s Choice Award. Until Saturday, community members can go to the Sohn gallery and vote for their favorite photograph. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will receive a 16×20 fine art print of their photo, printed by Sohn Fine Art’s Giclee Printing Department.

Sohn Fine Art and Chesterwood have worked together toward several goals this year.

“There are so many elements to it that benefit the community,” Sohn said. “The first obviously being the nonprofit that the show not only financially benefits, but they get that additional exposure. The second being the collaboration between Sohn Fine Art and whatever that nonprofit is. Those relationships help cultivate growth culturally in the Berkshires.”

Aside from helping fund a nonprofit historic group that brings culture and community together, the two groups say helping local artists is another benefit to their collaboration.

“And then, of course, the opportunity for photographers and artists to show their work in a gallery setting,” Sohn said, “where we have photographers of all different levels submit work, but many of them probably wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to exhibit their work in a show of this caliber, so it’s a really good way for me to reach out to the community and say ‘Celebrate your art! Celebrate your talent.’ It’s exciting for people on all different levels.”

If you go …

What: 2nd Annual Community Arts Exhibition

When: Through Monday

Where: Sohn Fine Art Gallery, 6 Elm St., Stockbridge Mass.

AND

What: Exhibition reception

When: 4-7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Sohn Fine Art Gallery in Stockbridge

Admission: Free to both

Information: chesterwood.org, www.sohnfineart.com, (413) 298-1025

Click here for more creative economy news stories, in print or online, from the Berkshire Eagle.