Tonawanda News

April 5, 2013

Partners in Art show to focus on realism

By Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Some art appreciators prefer more abstract or avant garde pieces of art, works that perhaps stem from the cutting edge creations of the likes of Andy Warhol or Jackson Pollock. 

Others, like members of the Fine Arts League of Buffalo, see the importance of continuing the traditions of realism

It’s those paintings and drawings that embrace the realistic figures, still lifes and landscapes that will be on display starting Saturday at Partners in Art Gallery in North Tonawanda as part of the league’s annual spring show.

Glenna Sternin, co-owner of the gallery and show organizer, said the show will be launched Saturday with an opening reception and a chance to meet the artists from 4 to 6 p.m.

“The Fine Arts League is a really old group and it’s been dedicated to traditional art because most of the art around here is a little far out,” she said with a laugh. The league is meant “to keep the traditional art alive, like the old masters.”

Town of Wheatfield resident Jody Ziehm has been a member of the league since the mid-1990s and will have two watercolor paintings on display in the show. One painting, “Rubber Duckies,” is of a pile of yellow, rubber duckies sitting in a store window, and the other, “Red, White, Blue,” is based on a photograph she took in Chatauqua of red and white geraniums against a blue sky.

She said she also loves abstract painting, but always features some realism in her works, which are often based on photographs she’s taken.

“I think (realism is) very relatable to the average person. People document their lives and their travels through their art. They may sketch on location and a lot of times it’s photographs,” Ziehm said.

City of Tonawanda resident Penny Ferguson said she too paints from photographs she’s taken, mostly from scuba diving trips with her husband. The 10-year veteran of the Fine Arts League said she’s contributed two oil paintings to the spring show, one a sunset over the ocean and the other of clouds over mountaintops, a painting she considers close to her heart.

“ ‘Clouds’ is a special one (because) I painted it for my father-in-law many years ago after my mother-in-law died,” she said. “He was looking outside (after her death) and he said he never noticed how beautiful the clouds where.”

It’s that emotional connection that often comes across in more realistic paintings that Ziehm stressed.

“You can tell these paintings are from someone’s heart and memory and they take great time and care to relay that. I feel like it’s not just a thrown out there kind of art. It’s carefully thought out and emotional ... you’re involved with the artist,” she said.

The Fine Arts League of Buffalo’s spring show will be on display at the gallery through April 26. 

IF YOU GO • WHAT: Fine Arts League of Buffalo Spring Show • WHEN: Saturday through April 26; opening reception 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday • WHERE: Partners in Art Gallery, 74 Webster St., North Tonawanda • MORE INFORMATION: Visit or, or call the gallery at 692-2141.

Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.