Beginning with a 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 7 reception for the artists, Peninsula Gallery will present an exhibition featuring two of the area’s best-known artists, Laura Hickman and Steve Rogers. The exhibition will present paintings by each artist in large format with framed sizes varying from 30-by-66-inches to 43-by-51-inches and larger.
Hickman, a founding artist of Gallery One in Ocean View and well known for her large pastel works, attended Hood College in Frederick, Md., and the University of Delaware, where she obtained an MFA. In addition, she spent a year abroad in Rome studying and painting. She has become one of the best-known pastel artists in the region.
In 2013, Coastal Style Magazine featured her as one of the best artists in Sussex County, and this year she is the Featured Artist at the 25th Anniversary Best of the Beach Art Auction benefiting the Beebe Medical Foundation. In many of her paintings she presents the essence of a local beach cottage, often including the backyard details of summer life, the barbecue grills and beach chairs that together perfectly characterize the environment she seeks to present.
In “Early Morning, Bethany Beach," for example, the sun is rising behind the viewer, throwing light on the tops of the trees and shadows on the buildings farther to the right. The back yards facing the sandy alley hold the trash and recycling bins emptied that morning that are now mostly upended. They are a series of colorful blue and yellow grace notes all the way down the block.
Hickman is the recipient of several recognitions and awards for her work including multiple-year awards for Best in Show at the Rehoboth Art League’s Annual Members Show. Her works can be found in several local and national permanent collections including the Naval Observatory Vice Presidential Home in Washington D.C.
Rogers has had a lifelong affection for the history of the Mid Atlantic fishing fleet and its contribution to the area's heritage. Early in his artistic career he built life-like models of work boats, and he is a nationally recognized ship model builder. Along the way he wrote five books on the subject, and he continues to periodically teach at the Wooden Boat School in Maine.
In 2000 he was awarded a certificate of commendation at the yearly 2000 Model Builders Competition at the Mariners Museum in Newport News, Va. As he began to paint, he quickly became a signature member of the American Society of Marine Artists, and more recently he received an Established Artist Fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts.
His early work with model building now enhances and strengthens his painting. Understanding marine construction methods, thinking in three dimensions, and working from blueprints and photographs allows Rogers to visualize in great detail the boats that become the subjects of his paintings. Much of his work could be interpreted as capturing the past before it disappears. However, these images are neither sentimental nor cartoonish.
Rogers' artistry, which is considerable, is in the realism and structural detail of the forms he presents: the sprung plank of a dilapidated work boat or the water and mud of a marsh estuary at low tide reflecting the falling light of the day. Realism can sometimes get a bad rap in the modern world of painting, but actually it is the concentration of detail in Rogers' paintings that brings to life the image he wishes to portray, and the painting would be the lesser without it.
In the end, common to both artists in this show is the thought that these paintings present images that are well known to the viewer: the beach cottage down the sandy street, the cold beach and bay in November or the lighthouse at Harbor of Refuge.
The exhibition will extend through June 30. The Peninsula Gallery at 520 E. Savannah Road is currently in its 18th year and presents the work of more than 20 local, regional and international artists. The gallery also provides conservation framing and restoration services. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday. The gallery is closed on Monday. Phone 302-645-0551. Visit www.peninsula-gallery.com.