Endangered Species and Zany Characters can be Found at the Crary Art Gallery on October 7th

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Free the Songbirds by E.M. Castonguay.

Contributing Writer
Jean Gomory

Elizabeth Myers Castonguay and Abby Carter will be exhibiting their paintings at the Crary Art Gallery from Saturday, October 7th through Sunday, November 5th. Works from both artists are equally appealing and contrasting. Elizabeth’s exhibition of intimate images showing the connection between humanity and nature captivatingly plays against Abby’s gallery of paintings, which is filled with bright, fun, madcap characters.

Elizabeth Myers Castonguay knew that she was an artist when she was young. She felt the need, even as a child, to give back to humanity with her art. She was able to articulate this realization when she was eight years old and she told her mother she would be an artist but would have to use her art to try to make the world a little better place. She also loved animals, nature, and “the beautiful palette of humanity” that she saw in New York City.

Her body of work titled ‘Endangered’ displays the effect of humanity on the biodiversity of the environment. It is also meant to connect human diversity and the biodiversity of nature. Her goal is to invite the viewer to “internalize, reflect, and see the world that we have created.” Elizabeth believes that “we were given Paradise but didn’t recognize it,” and, human behaviors and actions have had a role in the increased number of endangered species on planet Earth. Elizabeth’s art draws the viewer into the elegance and intrigue of a paradise we don’t know we’ve lost.

Flamboyant Guest.

Elizabeth visited a lot of art museums as a child, and she recommends the same opportunity for all children, stating, “If children can attend a museum or other program that gives them crayons, colored pencils, paint, and other things to be creative that is great!” She believes that “art is important in schools because it gives children the materials to make art and exposure to different mediums and approaches. The arts give many children a ‘reason’ to want to go to school. Every child, regardless of resources, is an artist.”

In addition to producing award-winning works of art, Elizabeth has taught art in Pittsburgh for over 15 years. She has taught at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Carnegie Museum of Art in addition to international workshops. She loves teaching people to see the world through ‘new eyes.’

Abby Carter is a lover of art, science, and nutrition. Like Elizabeth, she knew when she was young that she wanted to make a living with her art. She considered being an architect or medical illustrator, but in the end, she pursued illustrating children’s books. At the age of 11 she nurtured her love of art, and curvy lines, by creating small greeting cards. Thanks to the efforts of her grandmother, these cards could be found in 75 stores throughout Maine. Years later, Abby combined her three loves by starting a juice company, Fresh Samantha, with her husband in 1992. She developed healthy juice combinations and created the labeling. Unfortunately, Fresh Samantha is no longer in production; however, Abby’s delightful characters can be found in numerous children’s books such as “Daddies Do It Differently” by Alan Lawrence Sitomer (Hyperion Book CH) and “Andy Shane and the Barn Sale Mystery” by Jennifer Richard Jacobson (Candlewick Press). Abby’s bright, vibrant work displays whacky, expressive characters that will spark your imagination and bring a smile to your face.

Both exhibiting artists gave the same advice to children, and adults, when it comes to pursuing a love of art. Keep pursuing, no matter what anyone else says. Successful adults have told Elizabeth their parents wouldn’t let them pursue art because they wouldn’t be able to make a living. She reminds us that “it’s never too late to learn, so if this is your story then change it. Take lessons or just start drawing regularly. There is an artist in everyone!” One sentence Abby has heard repeatedly from adults is, “I wish I never stopped drawing or playing the piano or tennis…”. When asked what advice she would give to children interested in art she said, “I would tell children not to stop doing what they love. Fit it into their life any way they can.”

You can meet these intriguing artists at the exhibition opening on Saturday, October 7th, beginning at 3:00pm. The exhibition continues until 6:00pm with artist talks starting at 4:00pm.

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 its 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 craryartgallery.org.