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Chester County Press

Whimsical ‘Birds and Beasties’ at Bookplace in Oxford

10/08/2019 12:19PM ● By J. Chambless

‘Monet’s Dream’ by Annie Patrizi.

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

The gallery space at Bookplace in Oxford has reopened after the summer break with a fine exhibit, “Birds and Beasties,” featuring perfectly paired works by Annie Patrizi and Polly Davis Chalfant.

Chalfant’s paintings are like little stories, with anthropomorphic cats, chubby birds and grinning goats among the characters. They’re like pages from a children’s book, only you are invited to make up the stories.

“Catch Me If You Can” has a wily sort-of bird and a man with a net, and both “Winter Flight” and “Coasting” show rounded birds in various landscapes. “The Real Reason Phoebe Flew Away” is a very detailed arrangement of figures, a bird and overlapped patterns that make up what could be a scene from some dark opera.

In “The Pessimist,” whatever sort of creature it is ponders a grumpy mood amidst the flowers. There’s a beguiling goat gazing out at you in “Moonstruck” and “Goatie in Woods,” and Fred, a rather human-faced cat, grins at you in several other works.

Annie Patrizi has a wall of terrific bird portraits done vividly in oils. Her sense of composition is marvelous, particularly in “Black Bird Singing,” which cuts right to the bird’s open beak and aggressive stance.

Bits of fluff float around the owl in the wryly titled, “Something I Ate?” Birds arch their beaks quizzically in “Fear and Loathing” and “Monet’s Dream.” But it’s not all birds. A turtle glides through blue-green water in “Ascendant,” and a bear strikes a dramatic, confrontational pose in “Bella Fiama.”

There are tiny surprises, too, such as “Empty Nest,” a closeup of a bird’s nest containing a single feather. The ornate acorn-and-leaves frame adds the perfect touch to “Mother,” another bird portrait.

Technically very fine and endlessly inventive, Patrizi’s paintings have a dynamic energy that draws your repeated scrutiny. Paired with Chalfant’s amusing storybook animals, they make a compelling exhibit that’s also a whole lot of fun.

“Birds and Beasties” continues through Nov. 3 at Bookplace (2373 Baltimore Pike, Oxford). Hours are Friday from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Call 717-715-4775 or visit

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