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  • Emma Hines

Artist Salon Premieres!

By Peter Sheehan

On Sunday, March 31st, the Roost Gallery held its first artist Salon which showcased the work of three local artists. The paintings of Peter Sheehan, Jill Ziccardi and Ed O’Hara were exhibited and after everyone enjoyed refreshments and a lovely introduction from the Roost’s executive director, Marcy Bernstein, the main event began. Those in attendance took time to analyze and appreciate each work of art that was shown and first to be discussed was the work of Peter Sheehan. Sheehan, an artist who received his MFA in sculpture from SUNY New Paltz in 1971, makes mesmerizing abstract works that explore the interplay between bright and muted colors and are informed by his experiences as a farmer and one who enjoys nature. His works incorporates small details he sees in the world such as the relationship between ice and the sun as it cracks and expands with the shifting warmth as well as landscapes from his memories. He finds endless inspiration in nature and uses painting as his primary tool in exploring the mysteries of the woods and landscapes he witnesses.

Next to present was Jill Ziccardi, a phenomenally funny creator whose work is inspired by the pet names men use to describe and objectify women. She playfully discusses heavy topics such as gender inequality and feminism by creating artworks that embody nick names like ‘sweetheart, ‘ ‘cupcake, ‘ and ‘chicks,’ and works to reclaim these words by making colorful and masterful paintings of them. She also uniquely chooses to decorate the borders of her paintings with objects that are relevant to her subjects, such as using cat toys to surround her painting, ‘sexy kitten’ which allows the painting to live outside of its perimeters and to expand outwards in the gallery space. She attaches these border materials with glue and her incorporation of these objects gives her work a crafty feeling, and with crafts oftentimes considered ‘women’s work’ they are often undervalued in society. Ziccardi also chooses to paint on fabric and skillfully incorporates the preexisting pattern of the fabric into her imagery to pay homage to women who masterfully work with fabrics but are not recognized as skilled artists. Ziccardi’s confident and sassy personality is very present in her work and the conversation surrounding her pieces were oftentimes including the words ‘joyful,’ ‘exciting’ and ‘hilarious.’

Last but certainly not least was Ed O’Hara, former CEO of SME branding and a new comer to the New Paltz art scene. O’Hara’s paintings are dramatic and visceral as they explore his family’s complicated past and his desire to express subconscious feelings. He utilizes many mediums to communicate these ideas such as paint, family photos, graphite, and various symbols. The jarring and sometimes confusing images he creates mirrors the complex nature of relationships between humans and his use of bright colors and symbols further alludes to those he wishes to either pay homage to or recognize faults in. O’Hara’s Latino heritage was greatly denied throughout his life and he uses his art to give that part of his lineage and honorable place to exist. He described his art as a form of “open-heart surgery” as he delved into these densely emotional aspects of his life and family. O’Hara has found immense closure and understanding through his art and the stories he chose to share in his paintings are engaging, raw and greatly appreciated by those who got to enjoy them firsthand.

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