Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts (LVCOA) will unveil its April exhibit, Heart and Soul, during the First Friday Art Walk on April 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. The exhibit is on display at LVCOA’s Gallery 770, located at 770 Cumberland St. in Lebanon

Heart and Soul features work from Nancy Soulliard as well as the work of Gladys Zeiset and Courtney Reimann. Soulliard will also sell her hand-painted glass jewelry.

Photos of Nancy Soulliard’s work provided by the Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts.

Soulliard’s rendition of a yellow labrador retriever.

During First Friday, Danielle Baugher will play sacred selections on the piano from 5 to 6 p.m.; requests will be taken from gallery guests. Guests must wear face coverings.

Heart and Soul runs throughout the month of April. Regular gallery hours are Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Group tours are available by appointment.

“We enjoy showcasing local artists as well as our building,” said Reimann, who is also a member of LVCOA’s board and serves as its secretary.

She said Heart and Soul is centered on how much of themselves artists put into their work and it’s about the connection that a piece of art has to each individual.

“Ultimately, what draws a viewer into a piece of art is that it reaches the heart or soul. When you experience art, you often connect on some level with the artist as well. Art invites you to ask questions, ‘What does this mean?’ ‘What was the artist thinking about or experiencing?’ That’s why our tag line for the exhibit is ‘Art that Comes from the Heart – Art that Speaks to the Soul,’” she explained.

An abstract piece by Soulliard, featuring portraits and hands.

Reimann said that usually, at this time of year, LVCOA features student art from area school districts.

“Unfortunately, that won’t be happening due to the pandemic and districts’ remote learning, so we had to come up with another plan,” she said, “As we re-establish First Friday, we wanted to reach reconnect with artists in the community. That’s why we’re doing group exhibits for the next few months.”

Heart and Soul features some of Soulliard’s abstract work as well as some of her small animal paintings. In her artist’s statement, Soulliard said she’s always been a visually creative person, making and expressing ideas in various mediums and ways.

“I’m an artist, creative director by day, and always had a connection to animals, especially horses,” she said.

Soulliard’s abstract depiction of horses.

Over the years as life has changed, Soulliard said her work has evolved and flowed in a variety of ways.

“Throughout my artistic journey, I strive to create artwork that honors the lives and captures the essence of the figure while providing the observer a unique view of the lives reflected in the art. My abstract figure drawings created from my reference photos or drawings of live models come to life as I move around the page, experimenting with light, gesture, and color. This creates the texture and movement, radiating the energy and feeling of the figures,” she said.

Another small animal painting of Soulliard’s.

During the past year, she’s refocused on small acrylic paintings, mostly of animals. Soulliard said that, initially, they were portraits of her pets, and that led to an interest in painting portraits of other pet lovers’ pets.

“I look to capture the spirit and personality of each animal I paint. My hope is that my artwork engages you, provokes you, and inspires you to see the life reflected in a new light,” she said.

Textural oil and mixed media abstract figure painting.

LVCOA also plans to host a group exhibit for May. Art for Healing will be unveiled during the Frist Friday Art Walk on May 7. Reimann said the theme was inspired by the personal experience of having a friend and fellow board member struggle with a cancer diagnosis, and also by the global experience of living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The concept of healing through art also extends to mental wellness. Also, a major medical illness or diagnosis doesn’t just impact the individual, it also changes family, friends, and caregivers,” she explained.

LVCOA is seeking art for the exhibit. Reimann said the call for art is designed for anyone who creates or created art in response to experiencing an illness or diagnosis, or anyone who used art as a method of healing or examining and filtering thoughts and emotions related to illness and wellbeing.

For more information about LVCOA, art exhibits, or to submit artwork, visit the organization’s website, or its Facebook page.

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Rochelle A. Shenk is a writer with over two decades experience. Her work appears in regional business publications and lifestyle magazines as well as area newspapers. She writes about business and municipal sectors as well as arts and entertainment, human interest features, and travel and tourism. Rochelle...