By Jim Sisley , Image Source

            Most recognizable artists are known for a style of painting. Nascent art makers are often told by an educator or mentor that artists should keep to a certain style in an effort to hasten mastery and to find their own niche. 

            So, it was with a sense of mischief and rebellion that Loudoun painter Kris Loya recently advanced the idea to a local group of painters that they should depart from their stylistic constraints and unapologetically produce that piece of art they always wanted to try. Loya invited a group of 14 female artists to throw out their respective rule books and, without remorse, stretch their artistic expression. 

            The idea for the exhibit came from the storied life of painter Edith Lake Wilkinson and the constraints she faced in the male dominated society of the early 1900s.      “At that time, female artists were only allowed to show their artwork on Sunday,” Loya said. In the late 18th century most artists were men, but today most of the artists that show at regional galleries are female. 

            Loya said she doesn’t “think of creating art as tilted toward one gender or another.” However, she recognizes there is a direct correlation between the rise of feminism and the number of women artists today. 

            Young Kris Loya grew up in a household where her mother rose from an executive assistant to a “C level” executive and she rightly sees strong successful women as today’s societal norm. It follows then that there is an element of girl power and generationsm in the upcoming exhibition. The mature artists in this show have embraced the concept with a kind of activism while younger participants engaged as a continuation of the hard-won inclusivity they have always known. 

The works of Edith Lake Wilkinson, 1868-1957, are providing inspiration to local female painters who will exhibit there works this month in Leesburg.

            “I think women have always been bold in art. There is less caution, timidity or hesitation by women in the arts today,” Loya said. 

            The internet has hyper-influenced art producers and they consume so much visual imagery that styles come and go at a faster pace. Loya says the increased access to imagery “produces a lot of mud or middle ground,” a sort of sameness that frustrates the innovative mind. 

            “Painters eventually abandon the notion of painting for an audience and seek unique expression instead,” she said. 

            This show is based on Loya’s art challenge to “do something different. I don’t know why we imprison ourselves when there are no actual rules. Afterall, we are artists and creators.” The energy artists find in the challenge translates directly to the dynamism in their finished work. Its fresh, more exciting and looser in a manner that drives patron interest. The painter’s muse seems to jump to the viewer.

            “It’s a really important celebration of local women in the contemporary arts,” Loya said. 

            At the time of this writing, it is unknown what work will be delivered for the show. Titled “Unapologetic,” the exhibit opens at Tryst Gallery in Leesburg on Friday Dec. 5, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. and runs through Jan. 15. 

[Jim Sisley is the owner of the Tryst Gallery, located at 312 E. Market St. Suite F in downtown Leesburg. The gallery is open Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and First Friday 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. each month.]