Changing Gears: Art center moves to a more public presence

Evoking a spiritual and emotional response to those who participate in a presentation of all art forms, it is well known that visual art, music, dance and performance art is an aesthetic elevator for those who observe and are engaged by it.

Realizing that the construction of a permanent home for the Chesterfield Center for the Arts (CCAC) is still a number of years off, Howard Corey became involved in working to offer a parallel effort to bring attention to the art center while providing art based events.

Howard Corey and his wife Betty have gathered art pieces from Africa and local artists for an art show called “Heart and Soul: A Celebration of African American Art Through Local Eyes” now hanging at the Chesterfield Center for the Arts Foundation office at 11801 Centre Street in Chester.

“There’s about 30 or more pieces hung here,” Corey said during an interview on Saturday. “This whole thing is a part of a concept of what we want the art center to be and it’s just a start of events we hope will take place here.”

The show piggybacks on “Black History Month” and includes a number of art pieces collected from several African countries as well as local African American artists and includes portraits, landscapes, African artifacts and a few photographs.    

Ron Ervin is one of the local African American artists whose realistic portraits grace the walls of the office turned gallery.

“I try to do a drawing that is going to evoke some sort of response,” Ervin said.

Ervin’s parents wanted him to be a doctor, but while in the pre-med program he found himself drawn to the art department where he began throwing clay pots on the pottery wheel.  

“My heart yearned for art and I would spend half my day in the art department,” Ervin recalled. “I was also attracted to the operatory and I began illustrating [parts of the body].”

Ervin made a career out of medical illustration and illustrated a book on sports injuries. According to Ervin the book was translated in a number of countries including Japan.
He does mostly portraits, which shows a lifelike representation of his subject, although some of his more beautiful pieces come straight out of his imagination. He says there’s a story behind every one.

While the art center office has always had a few local art pieces on display, this show is a departure, due to its theme, and a fresh start for the art center effort.

“Because it’s ‘Black History Month,’ we thought we would start with a collection of African American art,” Corey said. He also said he wanted to make sure that local artists Bob Smith, Richard Lesley and Mel Bowling are mentioned.

“Mel Bowling, [whose work involves a method called stippling method], has a portrait of Christa McAuliffe hanging in the New Hampshire capitol building.” Corey said. McAuliffe was a teacher who was killed in the space shuttle Challenger disaster.

But the art center is not only about visual arts, the center is reaching out to the community to become involved in other events, which the art center group is sponsoring.

Corey and Jim Daniels started an event called Second Thursdays last year to bring attention to the art center and provide another community event. Second Thursdays is typically a musical event, although last year area service groups such as the Chester Rotary and the Kiwanis Club of Chester moved their signature events to the Second Thursday venue. The Chester Community Association also partnered with the CCAC to bring a number of First Thursday events to fruition.  

The CCAC is also planning a lecture for next month on historic maps. The group will bring its first arts walk event to Chester in April.

The imagery of the “Heart and Soul” art show is intriguing says Corey. He said it gives the art center a kick start that will move the Chesterfield Center for the Arts on to the next level.

“Heart and Soul: A Celebration of African American Art” will be featured at the art center this month. The show opening will be held on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. and will continue each Sunday from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. through the month of February. You can also visit the gallery by special appointment by calling 931-5459.


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