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    West Chester Gallery Walk

    If you have never attended one of the West Chester “Gallery Walks‚” it’s a good bet you don’t really know what it’s all about. The description provided by the main sponsor (the Chamber of Commerce of Greater West Chester) is a perfect summary: Gallery Walk is an “eclectic mix of gallery receptions and one-night exhibits.”


    Things have changed a bit since the mid-1990s, when exhibits were found both in traditional galleries as well as unconventional venues where work hung from clotheslines rigged up between the columns of the Chester County courthouse. I also remember taking part in an informal art workshop in a garage along Prescott Alley back in the waning days of the Polaroid camera.


    This Friday’s Gallery Walk, from 5 to 9pm (Oct. 6th) is sure to be a little more sophisticated, but I find there’s still a strong element of discovery even if the art work is displayed in a bank open late for the occasion.


    There are not as many galleries as there were in the 1990s, but two current ones – the Church Street Gallery and the Visual Expansion Gallery – seem to do the work of ten galleries. The pop artist Jeff Schaller, who has exhibited in West Chester for decades now, jokingly bills his solo show at Church Street as the place where “there’s enough eye candy for everyone.”


    The Visual Expansion Gallery, along with Sunset Hill Jeweler’s Fine Art Gallery, are among the oldest galleries in the borough. I love the work of the featured artists in both galleries. At Sunset, it’s the meticulous watercolors of Don Shoffner. At Visual Expansion (126 N. High St) it’s a book signing and an exhibit by landscape photographer Fred Weyman.


    Fred’s recently released photography book is aptly titled “The Sierra Nevada.” It’s a fascinating look at a famous mountain range in California that has been explored by numerous naturalists, mountaineers, and writers including John Muir and Jack Kerouac.


    Fred, pictured below along with his book cover, is a quiet but personable guy who will be happy to talk to you about your own photography. He is also not opposed to sharing his tricks of the trade, though I suspect it would be difficult replicate anything Fred does. As early reviews of the book have described it, Fred has a natural feel for capturing the light of a landscape as well as seemingly “impossible vantage points.” He was able to explore much of the high country’s varied terrain (from canyons and glaciers to lakes), all taken in different seasons and  climates over the course of 30 backpacking trips spanning the years he lived in California.


    I also recommend visiting the open studio of Erica Brown, an artist I have always admired for her ability to stay creative while raising a family. She’s had the same studio at 28 N. New Street, in fact, since she first began to create her self-styled abstract expressionist paintings from encaustic (wax with pigment). More about her work is explained here


    Also, try to visit the Chester County Historical Society on North High Street. Adrian Martinez’s amazing solo exhibit, “The Visionary World of Humphry Marshall 1750-1800,” ends in December.


    I hope to write about it here before then but briefly, the exhibit captures the work and life of a celebrated colonial botanist who studied and cultivated native plants in nearby Marshallton.

    LEFT: Fred Weyman. MIDDLE: A peek at The Sierra Nevada book cover by Fred Weyman. RIGHT: Adrian Martinez