Artists Worth Watching

Two young Virginia artists are worth watching.

Laura Bell, a 2012 graduate of the University of Virginia and a native of Pennington Gap, Virginia, has shown her work across the state and has a current show, “Movement While Waiting,” at Writer House in Charlottesville. The show runs through June 29th. Bell’s intense colors and fluid oils explore “the anxiety or struggle of thought before understanding is reached..I use bright but complex colors and patterns to represent both the enjoyment and subjectivity of thought. Painting helps me work though these ideas and present a conversation with viewers that allows them to relate to this process in individual ways.” Two of Bell’s favorite artists are Egon Schiele and Gerhard Richter. “I like Schiele’s unabashed rawness, and Gerhard Richter’s abstract paintings for his emphasis on the immediacy of color and less on form.” While largely self-taught, Bell began drawing still lifes and landscapes and moved to oils and the abstract, favoring its “immediate, guttural impact.” She thins the paint to achieve a forceful rush of color, the flowing effect barely contained on luminous canvases. Bell is now putting together a portfolio of larger abstract paintings which, she says, may include more realism as well. “I am still parsing through ideas and directions for my art, and I use the process of painting for my own clarification.”


A Heaviness, oil on canvas 4’x3′


Seasick Sailors, oil on canvas, 5’x4′

To see more of Bell’s work:



Megan Zalecki of Radford was graduated Summa Cum Laude from Radford University in 2012. Her paintings will be on view at 9WG Studios, Richmond, during June and July. Megan’s imaginative works span large abstract oils to figure study drawings and self portrait collages. She grew up in a family devoted to music which became her natural inspiration when beginning to paint. Megan was also attracted to the rhythms and movement found in the Abstract Expressionists, especially Gorky and Kandinsky. “When I discovered Kandinsky, that was it for me, then and now,” says Zalecki. Her once “formal and rigid work” opened up under these artists’ influence. “My paintings and mixed media drawings express the surreal and sometimes fractured nature of memories, particularly memories of environments, and the connection to natural origins and images that we all share,” she says. “Music and rhythmic sound are important to the process as they affect the energy, the mark making, color choice and the composition of the piece. Music also affects emotion, often stirring memories and bringing imagery to mind.”


Gently Weeps, oil on canvas 48″x48″


Hoppipolla, oil on canvas, 40″x60″


Zalecki’s oil, Hoppipolla, was inspired by the “layered, rich upbeat” sounds of an Icelandic alternative rock band which includes classical strings as well as bells, guitar and drums. Zakecki’s drawings and more traditional figure studies also play with line, lyrics and geometric forms. She recently began smaller scale and more personal work. “Moving from Radford to Richmond – a small town in the countryside to an urban environment – was a culture shock. In my collages, I’m exploring a narrative of natural and more industrial elements and how to be at home in both. I’m planning a bigger project taking photographs and using them to look at how we create our own environments.”

Kelli, charcoal on paper, 10″x12″


Welcome Home, collage on paper, 12″x16″


To see more of Zalecki’s work:



McGuffey Arts Center, 201 Second St. N.W., Charlottesville, through June 30:

Sarah B. Smith Gallery: Petrochemical America: Project Room – photos by Richard Misrach and Kate Orff

Upstairs Hall Gallery: Visions of Excellence, Pictures Of The Year photojournalism award winners.

Chroma Projects, 418 E. Main St., Charlottesville, through June 30 : Front Gallery – Look3 Festival of the Photograph. Black Box – Will May. Passage Gallery – June Collmer.

For a further information about this year’s Look3 photo Festival,

The Fralin, University of Virginia Museum: Looking at the New West, June 7-December 15, features the work of 6 contemporary photographers, Robert Adams, Lois Conner, Michael Lundgren, Mike Osborne, Mark Ruwedel and Joni Sternbach. Ansel Adams: A Legacy, June 7-October 13, offers the legendary’s photographer’s perspective of the West, including 138 original photographs from Adams’ early works to the 1950s.

Nichols Gallery Annex, 5420 Governor Barbour Street, Barboursville: June 8th through Labor Day, summer group show: Urban and Rural Landscapes by Virginia artists including Frank Hobbs, Ron Boehmer and Tom Tartaglino, and Figures and Still Lifes by Rob Browning, Pat Cook and John Murray.

Museum of Fine Arts, 200 N. Boulevard, Richmond: Pop Art and Beyond: Tom Wesselmann, until July 28.


-Elizabeth Howard, art edtior


The featured image is Laura Bell’s 3’x4′ oil on canvas.

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