Artists from all walks of life came together on January 10th in the Hampden-Booth Theatre Library to showcase their artistic talents at The Players 3rd Annual Artist Exhibition.
Throughout the library, The Players Art Committee exhibited twenty pieces of members-only artwork produced in different mediums, with several artists on hand to discuss their work and give attendees some insight into their art careers, whether it be for a few short years as a hobby or decades.
Loren Arethas started painting as a hobby 30 years ago and submitted Sunset Haze, a 12” x 12” acrylic on canvas. Arethas previously worked selling advertising space for interior design publications. Her familiarity with interior design has transformed this expertise onto canvas, painting appealing landscapes like Sunset Haze and other still-life.
Phyllis Cox, who said she has been painting since she was 12, exhibited a 12” x 12” acrylic entitled Rings, a stunning canvas of a jewelry box filled with an assortment of rings. Cox showed attendees she was wearing some of the jewelry she showcased in her art piece. She has worked as an art director, is a book author, and of late, started a second career as an actor. Kudos to her skill and longevity with her hobby.
David W. Grunner displayed his 20” by 24” framed photograph entitled Boy with Kite Beneath Assisi, a black and white masterpiece shot with a Fuji X100 in 2021. Before the event, Grunner shared personal information about his lifelong photography hobby.
“My love for photography was instilled by my father, who was an incredible photographer as well,” Grunner said. “My fondest childhood memories were summer walks in Urbino, Italy, using a Nikon FM3 camera.”
“My father taught me to set up a shot, think about lighting and scale, but most importantly, how to sneak photographs of ordinary people going about their business.”
Grunner, a native New Yorker, spent a decade teaching high school English. He now serves as the sales director for a wine and spirits portfolio. He joined the club with a passion for the arts and pursue his goal of being part of their magnificent art collection.
“Where else can you sip a martini beneath the eyes of a Sargent?” Gazing around the library during the art show or perusing the halls and staircases of The Players, one would certainly confirm Grunner’s praise.
A worldly and one-of-a-kind entry by Olivera Medenica was her Prismacolor art piece entitled Gracanica Monastery, representing the last endowment of King Stefan Uros II Milutin. Medenica paid homage to the sacred church through her work.
The following is a description provided by Princeton.edu.: “King Milutin’s five-domed edifice has a cross-in-square floor plan, an almost square naos, a deep sanctuary, a narrow western bay, and a two-storied narthex with katechoumena (gallery). The central part of the building is surrounded by aisles, which incorporate the choirs and eastern chapels flanking the tripartite sanctuary. The church was built using the cloisonné technique with horizontally arranged ashlars framed with brick, while the windows and domes were made exclusively of brick.”
Medenica, a Dunnington Bartholow and Miller LLP partner, started painting at 17. Her work was publicly displayed for the first time this evening. Considering her talent, we need to see more of her work in the future.
Members and guests of The Players know well the informal room that houses the pool table and casual restaurant/bar on the lower floor, so it was striking to see Sonia O’Mara’s intensely realistic 20” x 24” framed oil on linen The Grill Room.
Before the first night exhibition, O’Mara shared some background history. Her father was a painter, and her mother a dancer, and she comes from a long line of artists and musicians. She was torn between a career in acting or painting, but ultimately, she painted.
“The decision came down to understanding if I pursued acting, I would need to be hired in theater. As a painter, I was in control of when and how I could express my creativity,” O’Mara said.
As fate would have it, O’Mara shares the same birthday with The Players founder Edwin Booth, and she feels an important part of the very special community of gifted members and artists at 16 Gramercy Park South.
“The Players is an oasis of those simple old-world ideals of camaraderie, humanity, and celebration of creatives,” O’Mara said.
Those simple feelings seem in short supply in our new nonchalant society. Looking upon O’Mara’s painting brings viewers closer to what we all know – this is indeed “a certain club” meant to be cherished and revered.
Finally, Dana York’s gold leaf, oil, ink, and synthetic glass A Dance in London maintains an old-world charm with a modern technique twist. York retired several years ago and took up art for additional income. Guest Bobby Singer said her spellbinding submission made participants stand back in awe of its beauty and intricacy.
Long-term member Sarah Ann Rodgers was the original impetus behind the concept of the annual art show, and she thanked the staff who kept the artwork safe.
Art Committee Chair Michael Gerbino and Rodgers worked tirelessly to bring about this splendid evening. The art committee and all involved care about the larger issue of keeping Edwin Booth’s dream alive well into the 21st century and beyond. Bravo!