Cultural Center opens Aug. exhibit: Abstract Acrylics

Aug 7, 2022

The Dartmouth Cultural Center hosted a reception on Friday, Aug. 5 to welcome this month’s exhibit.

The show, titled “Abstract Acrylics,” featured the works of the center’s gallery director, Jill Law, some of her adult students, and two other local artists.

The exposition, like Law’s class, focused on abstract works — a genre she said was harder than it looks.

“It takes a long time for people to come out of their shells with abstract art,” Law said, explaining that she has her students critique each other’s work at the end of each lesson to aid their development and refine their eye for the style.

“It’s funny how being in a group brings it out of people,” she added.

One of Law’s students, Robert Vesprini, said he took up painting in his spare time after he retired eight years ago.

Vesprini called his style semi-abstract, because while his works aren’t intended to look realistic, they do sometimes depict real objects or scenes — like a forest stream or a field of flowers — in a highly impressionistic way.

Though he said he was “not too interested” in selling his work, he was excited to be able to show his paintings in a gallery for the first time.

“It’s great,” he said. “It’s good fun.”

Another of Law’s students, Beth Russo, started taking the class just before the beginning of the pandemic, and has been honing her skills ever since.

“It’s very fun — also frustrating — but mostly fun and gratifying,” she said. “After [I’m done], I can stand back and really appreciate them.”

Russo’s works were truly abstract, but no less striking.

One of the commonalities between her paintings was the use of layering to create interesting textures.

In one painting, for example, she used bits of collage. On another, she used a marker to scribble on top of the layered paint.

Law’s final student at the expo was Helen Bryant, who began taking the class when Covid forced her to stop her art courses at UMass Dartmouth.

Bryant, a retired nurse, said she uses the precision skills she learned in her career to improve her art, often employing tools like palette knives in place of traditional brushes.

One of the hallmarks of her works was the use of vibrant colors.

“I like bright colors but I also like subtlety,” she said. “Before I know it I’m sticking some hot pink in or something.”

The show doubled as a chance for South Coast Artists who do not have dedicated spaces to show their work ahead of the organization’s upcoming open studio tours

One such artist was Judy Melanson, whose work was much less abstract than Law’s students.

“I’m one of the realists,” she said with a laugh.

Many of Melanson’s paintings were landscapes that she painted en plein air at locations along the South coast.

She said painting on location was nice because it gives the artist a better feel for the scene, adding however that you need to work strategically as the scene will change over time.

“You have to have a plan,” she said.

The final artist of the expo was Kevin Garbarini, whose works — like Melanson’s — skewed more toward realism.

Garbarini’s works were made with pastels, rather than paint, a medium that he said he discovered through a class and then stuck with.

“Pastels are the purest form of color,” he said. “There’s something freeing about it.”

Garbini said he has been painting for about nine years now and has been able to keep learning thanks to the help of other artists in the area.

“It’s a pretty supportive community for art,” he said.

The exhibit will be on display at the Cultural Center until the end of August. The Gallery is open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, visit