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‘All I Want for Christmas’: Second Annual Holiday Party and Artists Reception held at The Gallery at 105

By Staff | Dec 27, 2019

From left, painter Diana Suttenfield talks with fellow gallery artist Danny Conant at the party on Friday night. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN – Even before The Gallery at 105’s owners had converted their marketing and communications firm into a gallery space, they were using the building to feature the work of local artists, during the holidays.

The firm, which was founded in the gallery’s current location in 1997, was also used in its early years to host art shows, such as Shepherdstown resident Hali Taylor’s annual art holiday show. That legacy of investment in local art lived on, when the firm’s owners decided to renovate the building, reopening it as an art gallery at the beginning of the Contemporary American Theater Festival two years ago. Today, the space is home to the work of seven local artists: painter Diana Suttenfield, wood sculptor Bruce Fransen, portrait painter Ann Sharp, painter Joe Mayer, metal sculptor Scott Cawood, graphic designer and gallery co-owner Jared Scheerer and photographer Danny Conant.

On Friday night, the new work of those artists was being featured, during The Gallery at 105’s Annual Holiday Party and Artists Reception.

“It’s a chance for all of our artists and patrons to come together and have a good time,” said gallery co-owner Tom Conant, mentioning the gallery fills a void in the market. “We’re the only place in town where a collection of local artists can show their work on a regular basis. All of these artists have a following, and we wanted to create a space where their work could be shown.”

According to Tom, there were at least five art galleries in town in the 1980s, but with the rising cost of living in town, those galleries were unable to remain open.

Bach and Amy Hoang look at art with graphic designer Jared Scheerer, on right, during the holiday party on Friday night. Tabitha Johnston

“If we didn’t own the building and weren’t able to rent out the apartments upstairs, we wouldn’t be able to afford to have a gallery open here in town,” Tom said, mentioning the gallery regularly welcomes new visitors to see its art. “I think every month we get more people in, and you never know who will become a repeat patron. It’s so important to support these local established artists and pay them their dues.”

For one of those artists, Fransen, the holiday party was a chance for him to share his new art with the gallery’s patrons.

“I enjoy talking to people. Often people ask me what my process is, and I enjoy explaining that, because it’s unusual,” Fransen said. “I spend so much time in my studio, it’s nice to know there are other people out there interested in it, as well.”

Fransen is currently working with carving wood from ash trees, which are being killed by the Emerald Ash Bore, and aniline dying that wood in colors inspired by each season.

Scheerer, on the other hand, is keeping his art focused on finding new ways to portray the spectacular with Photoshop.

A piece of artwork, with a robot-like shape, welcomed guests to the Second Annual Holiday Party and Artists Reception in The Gallery at 105 on Friday night. Tabitha Johnston

“These are all created in Photoshop – I call them photo illustrations. The biggest piece in this show has 500 layers,” Scheerer said, mentioning the pain-staking work starts with finding the images for his pieces. “The key is finding source images – they have to be copyright-free or have permission to print them. For every one of these, 30 percent of the time is finding the right images, which must be captured from the right angle.”

As far as the holiday party was concerned, Scheerer said he anticipated the gallery would make a number of sales of art, because of it.

“This party is an exposure, especially of new stuff,” Scheerer said. “We’re going to sell more out during the theater festival and Christmas, than during the rest of the year.”