From staff and contributed reports
You’ll no longer find new releases at the tiny video rental store inside Washington’s Packing Shed Gallery — unless you were looking for new releases by the artists of the adjacent Six Pack artists’ collective, which has taken over the room formerly known as Cinema Paradiso.
Cinema Paradiso owners Alex and Susan Henze last week packed up the new films they’d been buying since last summer, when they took over the business from Joyce Kramer, who owns the historic building at Gay Street and Mount Salem Avenue.
As of July 1, Six Pack is using the space as a fourth exhibit room for Six Pack artists. The classics, documentary and foreign films are still there, however, available for rent during the gallery’s new hours, 11 to 6 Friday-Sunday.
“Sadly, it just wasn’t sustainable,” Alex Henze said Tuesday of the Cinema Paradiso venture.
“In a word, yes,” he said.
Six Pack Gallery, meanwhile, is taking hold of the space, and the opportunity, with renewed energy and a positive attitude.
Six Pack’s artists started displaying their work in one room at the Packing Shed in 2007.
Several area artists were looking for a venue that had no rules, that would display their experiments, and thus foster their artistic development. Space became available at the Packing Shed; Six Pack was born. Gradually, they spread out into two, then three rooms of the building.
“What [the fourth room] means is that, not only will there be more art on display, you can now meet the artists as they are making their art,” said artist and gallery spokesperson Janet Brome. “One room will now be devoted to hands-on art-making. The artist-on-duty will be happy to engage you in the process, or, if you prefer, walk you through the gallery and answer your questions about the art.”
The Six Pack Gallery has a reputation among its patrons for showing work that is on a par with art one could find at fine galleries anywhere. As Rappahannock resident Lucile Miller says: “I revisit shows and eagerly await each new one. I am interested in the diversity of fresh imagery from each artist and the realization that, while diverse, it works together and the artists compliment each other. The work at the Six Pack inspires my own thinking as an artist.”
D.C. resident Jackie Labowitz visits the gallery often and recommends that others do the same when she says, “Six Pack is quietly tucked away in Virginia’s ‘little’ Washington. The understated facade is a great foil for what hangs and stands inside its walls. Fun, serious, big, small, colorful and subtle come to mind. It’s packed with great big little surprises by very talented artists . . . . One more reason to go treasure-hunting west of the ‘big’ Washington.”
“An eye-catching assortment of incredibly original pieces,” says 13-year art collector Natalie Bosch. “Not what you’d expect to see at a ‘typical’ art gallery.” Adds her mother, Lorinda: “The Six Pack Gallery holds a delightful visual feast. Buy fresh; buy local!”
This cooperative of artists also finds inspiration among its members. Pam Pittinger put it this way: “How wonderful it is to be with a like-minded group that encourages exploration and growth. I can’t imagine any of the Six Pack artists judging me for anything! It’s a wonderful sense of freedom, and one that I cherish.”
The gallery has not only expanded its space; it has also expanded its artist membership. Six Pack is now actually a group of seven:
• Jim Ramsay is the newest member. Ramsay has a very rich background in art. His exceptional paintings — abstractions of his immediate surroundings — have wowed artists and art patrons in Little Washington for years. Now you have an opportunity to see several of his latest paintings any time at Six Pack. Ramsay has collaborated with fellow member Pittinger on several paintings which you can view in the gallery. Their styles and personalities bounce off of each other in a very harmonious and rich way.
• Pam Pittinger is a prolific abstract artist. Her colorful paintings dance across the canvas; they bring joy and delight to the viewer. Pittinger has also collaborated with Janet Brome on several three-dimensional pieces, most recently a series of hanging bugs.
• Janet Brome does show paintings at Six Pack, but she primarily works with metal screen to produce transparent sculptures, both abstract and realistic, solid but ephemeral. These are not like most sculptures you have seen before.
• Linda Tarry’s work is guaranteed to make you smile. Her mosaic constructions are labor-intensive, but it is clearly a labor of love. They invite the viewer to find the visual puns, the tiny treasure from a maiden aunt’s china set imbedded in her art. If you visit on the day Linda is working, you will get to see how she constructs her pieces.
• Chris Stephens’ oil paintings are color masterpieces. He amazes those who follow his work by his ability to paint the same scene many times over yet each painting looks totally new and different . . . each painting capturing a moment’s light.
• Ann Georgia McCaffray works with and on paper, although she also paints amazingly detailed stream-of-consciousness canvasses. She hangs all of the gallery’s shows; this is an art in itself. In the coming months, she will be demonstrating various art and book-making techniques in the gallery.
• Jeanne Drevas is a well-known local artist working with natural materials she gathers from her mountain property. No project is too big nor too difficult for her to tackle. Her craftsmanship is exemplary. In addition to her sculptures, you can see her colorful pottery on display.
Gallery hours are 11 to 6 Friday through Sunday. For more information, call 540-675-3410 during gallery hours, or Ann Georgia McCaffray at 540-987-8416.
The gallery’s current show, “The Temperature’s Rising,” will run through August.