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A Celebration of Color at Waverly Street Gallery

Acrylics on paper a departure for local artist.

Color is exploding across the walls of with the exhibit “A Celebration of Color,” works on paper by Bethesda artist Ruth Meixner-Bird. The artist, who has been a member of Waverly Street Gallery for six years and heads its exhibition committee, has 25 paintings in the show, which she has been working on for about a year and a half. 

According to Meixner-Bird, who usually works with acrylics on canvas, working on paper with acrylic has been an experiment. “It has been both a challenge and an unexpected surprise," she said. "Familiar colors have become richer and more intense when compared to my paintings on canvas.”

“Working on Arches watercolor paper,” she continued, “I prepare the surface by painting two coats of gesso, both front and back.  Then I coat the entire area with a flat coat of color – any color – straight from the tube.  Sometimes I tape the edges to preserve a thin line of the base color to be revealed in the finished painting.  Then I work with or against the undercoat – building, layering, scratching back, embellishing."

When asked about the inspiration for the painting, Meixner-Bird cited nature, particularly fish. “I am captivated by the outrageous color combinations of many tropical fish and have sought to respond to this inspiration,” she said.

In addition, “Personal symbols continue to appear –arches and wheels, lines of energetic thrust to achieve a sense of motion. Boxes often contain hidden elements.  Ladders and crosses contribute an element of stability. And the numbers are a mystery.”

Meixner-Bird told Patch she has been painting since childhood.  After graduate work at the University of Wisconsin in art history, she received a second masters segree from American University in painting and art criticism; she has also studied in Sweden, Japan, Italy, England and Mexico.  

The artist has taught painting and drawing at American University and and continues to teach privately since her retirement, including a weekly drawing class at in Silver Spring. She has exhibited widely in Washington, New York and Philadelphia as well as abroad as part of the Art in the Embassies Program.

The Waverly Street Gallery is a cooperative managed by its 21 members--painters, sculptors, jewelers, graphic artists and ceramic artists. It exhibits a featured artist each month, along with changing work from member artists.

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"A Celebration of Color" will be on exhibit through Oct. 8 at Waverly Street Gallery, 4600 East-West Highway, Bethesda, 301-951-9441, www.waverlystreetgallery.com. 

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