About a month ago, fiddler Bette Conway, who is also a geologist, metalsmith, and jewelry maker, decided to add a fifth simultaneous job to her resume: gallery owner.
She’s co-owner of Water Elemental Crafts and Fine Art in the Dresher Arcade, 319 W. Main Street in Lansdale.
And the show she’s mounted for her first attempt is also an exercise in multi-tasking. “Music & Art: Artists what are Musicians,” which runs through August 26, features works by fiddlers, guitarists, balladeers, harpists and pianists who, when they’re not making beautiful music are making beautiful things.
Like Philadelphia’s John Brennan, fiddler, guitarist and teacher, who is also a metalsmith and jewelry designer who creates timelessly classic necklaces and earrings using silver, chrome, and gemstones. And harpist Ellen Tepper, whose clay dragons—made and fired using kitchen utensils and a regular oven—prowl the gallery shelves and guard her glass Celtic knot windows. And Pat Egan, originally from Tipperary, a professional guitarist and singer late of the critically acclaimed group, Chulrua, whose photographs capture Ireland, the musician’s life, and the natural world around him.
“This was the first time I was putting a show together and this seemed so natural,” said Conway, at the gallery opening last week on Lansdale’s First Friday. And not only were the artists’ work under the lights, so were they.
Along with featuring their art, Conway wanted to feature their music. So there were Brennan with his sister, Judy, flutist E.L. McCullough of Woodbridge, NJ, pianist and artist Donna Long of Baltimore, MD, and bodhran player George Fairchild from the Lehigh Valley, playing tunes as visitors sipped wine and perused the art.
There will be three more live concerts at the gallery. On July 28 you can see the old time music band, “Hobo Pie,” featuring Ray Frick, a ceramic artist, as well as Barbara Johnson, Carl Baron, and others. On Friday, August 3, there’s an open Irish music session featuring harpist Tepper and Iris Nevins, a jewelry maker whose work, on display at the gallery, recalls ancient designs.
On August 4, Wildwood, NJ radio personality Rick Rock will host a singer/songwriter night with local singers Eugenia Brennan, Teri Rambo, and others.
Other musician-artists represented in the gallery are:
Linda Hickman, who is a silversmith and jewelry maker who plays flute and tin whistle in the New York area and has performed with Celtic Thunder as well as at the White House.
Paul Tooley, a watercolor artist, who is an old-time fiddler.
Lillie Hardy Morris, a painter who also does mixed media collage, is also an Irish fiddler.
We’re going to be getting up close and personal with some of these and other Irish artisans in the Philadelphia area in the coming months. Stay tuned.
Check out our photos from the show opening.