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Chester County Press

Emerging artists shine in Oxford exhibit

03/09/2015 12:49PM ● By J. Chambless

'211-15' by Madeline Peckenpaugh.

There are some striking new directions in the current exhibit at the Oxford Arts Alliance, which spotlights emerging artists from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The energy of the show is contagious.
SaraNoa Mark brings a vibrant point of view to charcoal drawings that take old master paintings by Bruegel and distill them to their gestural essence. Pieces such as the winter scene “After Bruegel,” and the joyful “After Bruegel Wedding Dance” are very fine tributes, and “The Park” has a wealth of textures and a still, somber mood.
Jessica Willittes has the straightforward observational style and technique of an outsider artist, shown in “Heavens Town” and “A Pet Looking In.” 
Taylor Hickman's untitled paper collage is an interesting collection of overlapping angles and textures, and Hickman's mixed-media “Kin” – with bees sensing each other in a field of other bees – is also strong, like some kind of artistic wallpaper design. 
Madeline Peckenpaugh's “211-15” is a large oil that dominates the end of the gallery. Its mass of tangled brown shapes – leaves, perhaps – is lifted and swirled by a force of wind, arcing in a circular motion into bands of blue, green and red above.
Justine Ditto's two companion monotypes, “Structural Variations,” suggests a ramshackle scaffolding over a cathedral window, but that's just my guess. Ditto's lithograph, “Factory Night Scene,” with its looming building and circular element, conveys a wealth of textures and a mood of sad decay. 
Bennett Shipman's two nudes – “Nude With Floral Pattern Cloth” and “Nude With Plaid Cloth” – are striking depictions of the figures, which recede like watercolors against the boldly depicted patterns of the cloths around and under them. 
Chelsea Dombroskie shows three pencil figure studies, and the two nudes have a dynamic sense of movement. Nearby, Drew Kohler's lithographs are densely packed and mysterious, with “Ball” suggesting a divine hand tossing out a globe towards awestruck human figures, but you're free to come up with your own interpretation. 
Considerable credit goes to the Oxford Arts Alliance for giving these artists a spotlight, and for opening the door to styles and subjects that fall well outside the usual Chester County barns-and-bridges school. You might not like everything, but you will be intrigued – and rewarded.
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Emerging Artists Exhibit continues at the Oxford Arts Alliance (38 S. Third St., Oxford) through March 25. The gallery is open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, e-mail [email protected].