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Three local artists to be featured at Franklin Square Gallery

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Three local artists take the spotlight in Franklin Square Gallery's new Members Show running from May 12 to June 19. Painters Susan Sokolowski and Ann Thompson and potter Eileen Gordon will be featured in this new exhibit by the members of the Associated Artists of Southport .

Their diverse styles are the culmination of years of experience and recent classes and workshops, yet each still reflects on her continuing passion for art.

Susan Sokolowski's detailed oil paintings often capture the immediacy of a scene because many are created from her own photographs.

"I love travel. I love photography. I am always looking to find the perfect composition in a photo I have taken which will lead to a an idea for a painting...I try to use color and composition to create a painting which will give people pleasure."

Her subject matter reflects her extensive travels and her appreciation for coastal scenery.

Originally from Montclair, N.J., Sokolowski moved to St. James from McLean, Va., where she worked as a French teacher.

"I have always done some form of art, and I have taken many classes, but as a high school French and English teacher, my profession only involved art when I taught my French students about the history of French art."

Now she has time to indulge her passion.

"I love being retired and having the time to paint. When my paintings make people happy, it brings me great joy."

Ann Thompson's intricate and fanciful depictions of small town life have captured the attention of many judges and earned her numerous awards.

"My paintings are done in gouache (opaque watercolor) and reflect my fondness and fascination with the 'good old days,' plus a generous dash of the ridiculous because we were then and we still are."

She grew up in White Plains, New York, studied art at DePauw University, lived in England for three years, and recently moved to St. James from St. Louis, Mo., where she enjoyed a prolific career. In 1983, she won the Saturday Evening Post cover contest and then did two additional covers. She created the Missouri Botanical Gardens Christmas cards from 1992 to 2002, and produced commissioned paintings for the Ronald McDonald House of St. Louis, along with many other commissions and awards.

Having just won first place for her painting "The Red House" at the gallery's Spring Show, Thompson continues her award winning artwork in her retirement.

Eileen Gordon discovered pottery through classes sponsored by the Brunswick County Community College in downtown Southport.

"From day one I was hooked and since spend every available moment with my hands in the mud...When I am working with clay, I am totally immersed in the process, and yet find it to be the most relaxing thing I have ever done."

After growing up in the midwest and living in Ohio and Michigan , Gordon moved to Southport three years ago.

"We built our retirement house in Indigo Plantation where I now have my studio, Egret's Nest Pottery....I enjoy both hand-building and wheel-throwing clay. I do functional pottery such as bowls, platters, and other tableware, as well as decorative and artistic work."

Gordon's love of the marsh and wildlife, especially egrets, is reflected in her art:

"Most of my pottery is enhanced by carving various designs and patterns into the clay. I frequently incorporate egrets, snakes, and geckos in my work."

"Those dental tools come in handy," explains this former dental hygienist and certified financial planner.

"I think that dental hygiene helped me develop skills and a tactile sense that I use in pottery, especially carving." She's done various crafts and needlework over the years, but "nothing, however, awoke the passion I feel for pottery."

The paintings and pottery produced by these three featured artists will be on display at Franklin Square Gallery until June 19, along with other work by more than 100 exhibiting members of the Associated Artists of Southport.

This cooperative community gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 PM. And is located in downtown Southport at 130 E. West Street behind Franklin Square Park. For Information on classes and programs, call 457-5450 or visit the Web site at franklinsquaregallery.org.