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Temahoa Love and Mandy Staffa art exhibit explores local, international landscapes

By Staff | Sep 20, 2019

Block printer Temahoa Love talks with Bob Williams and Noreene Janus, of Falls Church, Va. during the reception at The Bridge Gallery on Saturday evening. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN – Looking for a sunny meadow or hilly vista? Look no further than The Bridge Gallery’s current exhibit, which opened on Saturday evening with a reception, featuring the exhibit’s two artists, block printer Temahoa Love and painter Mandy Staffa.

Staffa and Love have been friends for many years, and both said they had always hoped to do an exhibition together.

“We both felt it would be a lovely idea,” Love said, as she cradled a glass of wine in one hand and a cigar in the other, during the reception. “We’ve wanted to do an exhibit together for years. We’ve known each other for a long time.”

Love, who currently lives in Spain, lived in Shepherdstown for a few years, and comes back periodically to exhibit her art. And, finally, the timing worked out for her and Staffa, a Shepherdstown painter, to create an exhibit together. According to Staffa, planning for the exhibit took her in a different artistic direction than she normally follows.

“I made my pieces specifically for this show, because I knew I would be exhibiting with Tema – I’ve known her for 46 years,” Staffa said. “In the past, my work has been more imaginative and large. I created these landscape oil paintings, so they would be in lovely contrast with Tema’s prints.”

On left, Nancy McKeithen, of Bakerton, laughs with Angie Sosdian, of Arlington, Va., during the opening reception at The Bridge Gallery on Saturday evening. Tabitha Johnston

Although Staffa said she has already made a couple of abstract paintings for her next show, many people expressed their appreciation for her realistic work during the reception.

“They’re so pure – I could smell the clean air! I’ve just never seen your landscapes!” said Judy Bradshaw, of Bakerton, to Staffa. “When I walked in, I was so surprised. I was really drawn to the spirit and clarity.”

Jefferson County Community Chorus director Judy Farr said that, although she loved all of the art, she was personally fascinated by Love’s landscape block prints.

“It’s a wonderful show,” Farr said. “I love the black-and-white prints. You can tell Temahoa Love has a love for nature.”

But for Love, her artistic inspiration comes from a deeper place than just an appreciation for the beauty of nature.

“This is my life – that’s it,” Love said. “I tell a story in my pictures, and I hope that they see it or feel it or know it for themselves.

“It’s been three years since the last time I was in Shepherdstown,” Love said, mentioning she enjoys working with The Bridge Gallery owner Kathryn Burns to exhibit her artwork. “I trust Kathryn – I let her do it all, she’s the boss. She is a very kind person. I wouldn’t exhibit if I didn’t feel comfortable, and I think kindness is terribly important in choosing who I work with.”