Deep Thoughts and Deeper Conversations to be Found at the Crary Art Gallery Starting August 5th

Valerie Patterson with her painting "All Our Time Has Come".

Contributing Writer
Jean Gomory

Two exhibitions will open at the Crary Art Gallery on Saturday, August 5th and continue until Sunday, September 3rd. The opening begins at 3pm and one of the artists, Charles Guay, will speak at 4:00pm. The large watercolor paintings of Valerie Patterson in “Art to Start the Conversation”, and Mr. Guay’s small oil paintings in “Little Somethings”, are two contrasting displays that will no doubt inspire deep thoughts and spark conversations you wouldn’t normally have with your friends over coffee.

Being an excruciatingly shy child, Valerie Patterson was encouraged in her artwork by a junior high school teacher. She knew she could not communicate effectively face-to-face and she discovered that visual arts gave her a voice.

Listening to her inner voice led her to create images that were meaningful to her and she began to focus on socially and politically themed work. It struck a chord. “Because of the reactions of others to this new work, I immediately realized the tremendous power that images have to make people comfortable or uncomfortable, joyful or disconsolate, settled or unsettled,” she said. So, during the late 1990s, Valerie consciously decided to use her voice to encourage people to see, think, feel and experience their emotions through her paintings. Valerie values the point of view each person brings to one of her works by way of their own personal experiences.

The concept of creating “art to start the conversation” evolved over several years as Valerie was influenced and inspired by divisions between people, social, political and personal events, experiences and ideas. While overhearing conversations at one of her openings Valerie realized that part of her work’s purpose seemed to be inspiring people to have conversations about difficult subjects that perhaps may not arise in many other ways.

When asked why it’s important to have these conversations, Valerie stated, “I believe that when we talk to one another, with open minds, we sometimes discover new and different perspectives on issues. Often, we are not as isolated and far apart as our thoughts, or the media, lead us to believe. Through open, honest conversation, we may be reminded that we are one. We are human. I hope that my work may help narrow some of the divisions between us and inspire people to become active in efforts that promote human welfare.”

Charles Guay has a contrasting theme to his exhibition titled, “Little Somethings”. This display will show a sense of nostalgia over childhood toys. When asked why he decided to get into art, Charles said, “I have done art since before I could talk. I had always drawn, painted, built things. In grade school I decided I wanted to be an artist and have always seen myself as one.”

The idea of painting real-life, three-dimensional, objects and toys from his childhood is something Charles had been working on before he decided to apply for an exhibition at the Crary Art Gallery. Once his application was accepted, he decided to continue with this theme.

While in grad school, the Dean of Theory told him to, “make paintings of importance”. This advice has influenced Charles in his work. Charles has a sense of humor he likes to express, be it in the titles of the pieces or the objects themselves. He hopes this adds a sense of levity. It is his ultimate goal that people go away with a sense of joy, levity, or happiness after looking at his work.

To experience the emotions, thoughts, and expressions evoked by the work of these very talented artists, come to the opening reception on Saturday, August 5th from 3pm – 6pm. If you can’t make the opening, the Crary Art Gallery is open to visitors Fridays and Saturdays 12pm – 6pm and Sundays 12pm – 4pm during exhibitions. Admission is always free!

The Crary Art Gallery is a non-profit private art museum located at the corner of Market Street and 6th Avenue in historic downtown Warren, PA. Its mission is to educate, entertain and extend the importance of visual arts. In addition to displaying the permanent collection, temporary exhibitions are held every other month throughout the year, beginning in February. Hours of operation are Fridays and Saturdays from 12 to 6 and Sundays from 12 to 4. Admission is always free. For more information, visit