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Posted in Caton Merchant Family Gallery, Visual Arts, on 2 November 2016, by , 0 Comments

With many figurative images reflected, Myth, Mythology, the Ghost Particle and the Birth of a Star are all topics Caleb Fletcher explores in his finely wrought graphite and color pencil images. He holds a BFA in sculpture from Alfred University in NY where the School of Art and Design has provided a long known history of connecting art, science and technology. Join him Friday, November 4 from 6-8pm for the opening reception during the Historic Downtown Manassas Gallery Walk. Caleb's work will be on display in the Caton Merchant Family Gallery at the Center for the Arts from November 2-December 9.

Artist Statement

My work is an effort to craft modern mythology out of appreciation for the sublime. By interweaving ancient ideas like alchemy, transcendentalism and creation tales with modern scientific fields like quantum physics, string theory, and astronomy I hope to create a mythology for our day and age.

Overall, I try to convey a sense of the sublime- an 18th century notion of human astonishment in the face of the natural world's power. This concept gained favor among painters and writers during the 1700s for its synergy of horror and harmony when describing nature. The subject of 18th century work on the sublime often centered around features of the earth that commanded absolute attention due to sheer scale, most predominantly mountains and oceans.

However, in the face of the 21st century's scientific revelations in astronomy and the subatomic world, I have turned my eye also towards the heavens above and the microcosm that lies unseen across all existence. With our modern capabilities the vast scope of the universe and its workings are more discernible to us today, but they are no less astonishing and intimidating than the grand vistas that artists regarded reverently centuries ago. Perhaps even moreso, as I feel there is a spiritual experience waiting for those who glance upwards and inwards with awe.

-Caleb Fletcher


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Posted in Caton Merchant Family Gallery, Visual Arts, on 12 February 2016, by , 0 Comments




Detail from "Seojung."

In the gallery through March 17th Osbourn High alumna Catherine Cole, who received her MFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 2014, is opening her first solo.

Along with her energetic pastel drawings there are at least 12 combinations of printmaking techniques in the exhibit and not surprisingly given Catherine Cole’s bubbly nature, a good showing representing her happy relationship to cookies. Baking, eating and sharing cookies; they look inviting along with this display of printmaking pieces that are inherently technically challenging to create.

The woodcut “Seojung” is 4’ x 2’, and by its very size, an endeavor, not only to excise the selected non-printing areas of wood, but very physical to manually run through a printing press for each color represented in the artwork. In “Seojung”, and remember the image is created in reverse as the wood is placed face-down on a printing bed when run through the press: the whites are created by carving that will not be inked, thus showing white paper -- but the warm yellow, grey and black (black created by no carving) are inked onto the plate sequentially and must be guided by registration marks.

Interestingly there appears to be a moire pattern in “Seojung” which looks as though it is intentional superimposed patterns, it is actually the wood grain of the printing plate. Catherine explains the original wood surface is often not printed, shellacked by printmakers to preserve original drawing marks while they work.  Here it commands as much attention as the subject and seems purposeful in juxtaposition of this oldest technique of fine art printmaking with the modern technology of a laptop.

Catherine also has a poster in the gallery to explain the different kinds of printmaking -- thank you, Catherine!

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Posted in Uncategorized, on 11 January 2016, by , 0 Comments

Congratulations to all the students who participated in and are exhibiting in the 12th annual "Off the Wall."
Winners were announced for Visual Art, Poetry & Wearable Art at the January 9th Open House. Special thanks to
sponsor Lockheed Martin for their continued support of this event.

Visual Art:
1st place: Michelle Lowe, Untitled, Graphic Design, Forest Park
2nd place: Husna Khan, Untitled, Dry Point Etching, Potomac
3rd place: Rachel Hong, Musical Reflections, Digital Photography, Battlefield

Honorable Mention:
Jason Anderson, Califi, Pastel, Osbourn Park
Tori Burns, Just Swimming Through, Graphic Design, Forest Park
Abrielle Genest, Untitled, Digital Image, Woodbridge
Allison Michas, Water is Life, Digital Art, Patriot
Sarah  Solomon, Untitled, Digital Image, Woodbridge

1st place: Taylor Petty, Untitled, Woodbridge
2nd place: Kaitlyn Graham, The Origin of Art, Woodbridge
3rd place Katherine Brown, Penance, Woodbridge

--Having the words "when poets confront art"
somewhere within a one page poem was the requirement.--

"Untitled", by  Taylor Petty:

Every morning that I went to pick her up the sun
was a red plate low in the sky, pink sequins glittering
in hovering ribbons. Her hair would twist
like licorice stems, her smile black like them too,
every word a little punch-knife in a heart-shaped
holster. When we talked,
it was always volley, bite after bite after bite,
heels digging into dirt. My poor engine
wanted to give up the ghost almost as much
as she wanted to call a war and dye the sky
in reams of cardinal. She had this paintbrush way
of turning everything I said to some grotesque
image of endless battles, incessant push-and-pull,
but for our own sakes, we never let go. I suppose
this is always how it is when poets confront art.
We fight. We rebel. But before I twist the key
when we arrive at the curb, before the sun has
transformed to liquid honey above the clouds,
we kiss and make up as though
it has never happened at all.

Wearable Art:
Leon Sunga, 1st prize winner from Osbourn High.

In its 2nd year, the wearable art contest requires the student to use at least 50% recycled “material” to create a garment to wear or have a model wear to the Open House to be juried for 1st prize. Leon Sunga, from Osbourn High School in Manassas, used recycled strips of paper, much of it from his personal school papers, to create a “Gatsby” themed white dress.


The Off the Wall exhibit will be on display until February 5th.
Gallery hours: 10-5pm weekdays; 1-5 Saturday




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Posted in Caton Merchant Family Gallery, on 9 November 2015, by , 0 Comments


In the gallery you will see, through December 17, 2015, art quilts based on the spice trade. Called “Along the Spice Route,” this exhibit of 35 quilts is rich in color and imagery. Many spices including well known cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger are represented with others maybe not so familiar’ “asafoetida,” “amchur powder,” and “ajwain.” To conjure an image that speaks to a spice is the beauty of how each art quilt came to be. There may be several representations of a specific spice in the exhibit, but no two quilts are alike. The compositions each, are appropriate in size and scale and masterfully executed.

With humankind came quilting, noted as early as 3400 B.C. and spices and space trade, as early as 2000 B.C., from China along the spice route to the Middle East. Quilting also traveled from the Middle East to Europe, believed to be around the 11th century. Hopefully, we all remember quilts as part of early America, revered now for their great artistry, they still functioned only as utilitarian. The “art quilt” happened in the 1960’s with nontraditional quilting techniques – think beading and application of many types of materials -- and for wall display!  When you visit the art quilts enjoy the moment.


"Tanzanian Cardamon", by Peg Green



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Posted in Uncategorized, on 23 October 2015, by , 0 Comments

This week Osbourn High School visited for an enrichment session with docent Vida. They shared reactions after hearing poetry which accompanied paintings by Janet Morgan Stoeke and sound recordings which accompanied ceramicist Jessica Gardner's sculpture. For the first time in the gallery QR codes linked the poetry and sounds to expand the art viewing experience. It is also the first time poetry has been featured with artwork, in this case, written by the artist. This type of poetry with art is called ekphrasis: Ekphrasis is a recontextualization or literary description of a visual work of art. The exhibit will be on display through October 29th.

Osbourn_gallery_1022  Osbourn_QR_codes

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Posted in Uncategorized, on 29 September 2015, by , 0 Comments

First a bit of historical context. Although the Center for the Arts is over 30 years old, its gallery, the "Caton Merchant Family Gallery" was founded in 2002 and with any arts history -- we've opened a timeline. For those who have followed us since the doors first opened and for those first time over the threshold, we offer you a shared journey. The universal language of art, be it for beauty, commerce, personal or political statement, is a language to cultivate among ourselves and to be shared with others. Whether it's your "potato" or "po-ta-toe," your Pissarro or Picasso, your passionate-love or passionate-hate, welcome, come in...cultivate your personal experience and we hope you'll share. We'll blog about the exhibits, the artists, their techniques and be there along the way.

Sculpture by Joseph Henry Lonas

Sculpture by Joseph Henry Lonas

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