Between 600 and 700 art lovers eager to savor the best of the Emerald Isle’s contemporary works visited the “Straight Out of Ireland” exhibition last weekend in Bryn Mawr.
Organized by the Philadelphia Irish Immigration Center in an ornate mansion on the campus of Sacred Heart Academy and pulled together by a dedicated crew of volunteers and committee members, the display showcased the work of 20 artists from Ireland and another dozen artists from the United States who have been influenced by the culture of Ireland. “Straight Out of Ireland” featured a range of contemporary art, including ceramics, glass, drawings, lace, jewelry, photography, paintings, fashion and more.
The event began with a grand gala Friday night, followed by a day of exhibits and informative panel discussions the next day, and a special family day on Sunday.
Immigration Center organizers were expecting 500 or so visitors, so the event exceeded expectations, says Emily Norton Ashinhurst, executive director of the center.
“This was our board taking a leap of faith on an idea, and it proved very successful,” says Ashinhurst. “I think it helped that we did it the right way from the beginning and had a committee that just blew me away. They were fantastic.”
Also absolutely essential to the exhibition’s success was a crew of talented volunteers who build and assembled gallery walls and lighting.
“My favorite comment was from a visitor who said, ‘I expected some small walls that you just kind of hung pictures on,’” recalls Ashinhurst. “’I didn’t expect an art gallery when I walked in, and this is really an art museum.’ When you have a team that comes together and works, it’s such an amazing thing to be a part of. I think we’re all floating a little high still.”
At least equally impressed were the artists, she says. “It set the tone for what the event could be.”
We were there at the opening night, and we have plenty of pictures to share. Check them out in the gallery above.