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Artist Reception: Brenda Beck Fisher and J. Barry Wright

Artist Reception: Brenda Beck Fisher and J. Barry Wright

Brenda Beck Fisher, Featured Watercolor Artist

When you are born with a passion, nothing and no one deters you. Brenda Beck Fisher, Alliance Art Gallery’s 2 nd Saturday’s featured artist, dove into life with that passion. “I couldn’t have been more than five.” Discarded pads of paper from the phone company where her father worked became sketch pads. In 7 th grade, delighted to finally take an art course, things went south. “The teacher, Mr. Brooks, grabbed the pencil out of my hand and erased my work.” In Brenda’s determined mind, “It was no longer MY art; it was OUR work.” When he accused her of cheating when, without glasses, she couldn’t even see to cheat, her appreciation of art
classes plummeted. Never taking another class, she showed up in college telling her academic advisor she wanted to major in … art. Then, with only one class in watercolor, she knew. “I fell in love with it. I knew it would be my thing.”

But upon graduation, she went into the “Mrs. Career,” happy to be an at-home mother and for the next 20 years did not do ANY art at all. But once the youngest was launched into kindergarten, a bigger problem arose … lack of spousal support. The marriage eventually ended, and Brenda, told herself, “I AM going to do this!”

Her watercolors show a vibrant realism. Sometimes artists suggest she explore different styles, but she shrugs. She has fully developed the skill she wants and never tires of using it to capture what delights her. “I hear this voice in my head, “Oh! I WANT to PAINT THAT!”

Well recognized in the Midwest, Brenda has taken commissions to illustrate three children’s books and a cover for an adult book. She’s provided artwork for a can of chili, a bottle of wine, the first Hannibal billboard, electric traffic boxes in town, the banners lining Main and Broadway … and 40 original watercolors to launch the opening of the Becky Thatcher home.

Twenty years ago, invited to be an inaugural member of the Alliance Art Gallery, she well remembers her biggest shock. The gallery manager, Anita Lamb Sorrel, suddenly died. Brenda stepped in as manager, but all the assets were temporarily frozen. Brenda stepped forward into management, but eventually with too many irons in the fire, she had to bow out of the Gallery.

As the Gallery celebrates its 20-year history, of which Brenda is a big part, she brings her watercolor passion back through our doors. Again.

Barry Wright, Member Photographer

Everyone asks about the “Magic Mushroom,” with its inviting under-cap glow. One almost expects psychedelic effects to emote from the framed image of this solitary mushroom in a darkened landscape.

What makes this photo extraordinary is the fact that Barry does not do digital enhancements to manipulate images. In this case, he used old-fashioned dark room techniques.

So how does he do it?

“I used a tripod so the camera won’t move. I took 15 close-up pictures, adjusting the depth of field so different parts of the mushroom were in focus. Then I waited until a little before dark and I lit the mushroom with a flashlight—a 4- to 5-second exposure moving the flashlight around.”

Back home, Barry overlaid the 15 images so that all parts of the mushroom were in sharp focus. Finally, using Photoshop, he erased areas where the light had bled onto and around the mushroom cap, so that all the light in the final image was captured on the underside. This old-school technique intrigues Barry.

So, lovers of Barry’s “Magic Mushroom,” now you know the photographer-magician’s secret …a tripod, a mushroom, a camera, a flashlight. And a dark dark night.

The Alliance Art Gallery
04:00 PM - 07:00 PM on Sat, 10 Jun 2023
The Alliance Art Gallery
121 N Main St
Hannibal, Missouri 63401