Artist Portrait: Cheryl Foster

Art and The City

24

Imagination. Cheryl Foster was born with an inherent sense of fantasy. It took her to wonderful places as a child; images danced behind her eyes without giving themselves away in the grave confines of a classroom … or in those places that demand seriousness. They traveled from her imagination to her fingertips and onto any surface in close vicinity. 

With many kids, the fantasies of childhood become drained by demands to conform: color within the lines and think inside the confines of rules and disciplines. But not Cheryl. The thoughts burst out and spread in all directions and in all fusions and fashions. 

Cheryl received an art degree from Howard University but was convinced that she needed a different way to make a living. She became a real estate appraiser, putting art aside for 20 years. Then she came back to it. Back to happiness.

You see it today in her large outside public works like “Phoenix,” one of six fiberglass figures on the grounds of the Edgar Mills Health Center in Ft. Lauderdale. It’s about survival and rebirth. You see it in the bright shards of stained glass and other materials that finesse themselves into living expressions of the fantasies that come to live, not rest, on walls and floors, pillars and sculpted statues. 

Cheryl also connects with singular and unique personas: living people. The portraits are not just a matter of likeness but are placed in an aura, a globe of personality ‒ sometimes in groups bonding together, or couples whose hopes and dreams are engulfed in a moment. 

When you look at “Golden Crows,” her prize-winning painting in the current Hill Center show, you are drawn into a maze of ideas and emotions. Eyes search for your soul without giving away the secrets that dance behind them (see At the Galleries).

You can see all of her works at www.cherylfosterartist.com. 

Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art

This fictional conversation is from a play I wrote a few years ago. But I’m afraid it is not actually fiction. Like Cheryl Foster, we need to hold on to the sensations ‒ the making, looking, listening, writing and reading. The arts are all we have to keep us human.

“PHOENIX”, 2013, 12 Feet. fiberglass, glass mosaic, mineral paints. Location: Edgar Mills Health Center, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The goal of this project was to put a face on the diverse cultures, ages and backgrounds of the clients served at this health center. There are 6 fiberglass multigenerational figures strategically placed on the grounds of the center that provide interest and welcome visitors. The Phoenix reminds patrons that one can survive adversity.

Me: The world is not the same. Where are we? Where are we going?

She: The world is no longer rocketing into the future, it simply is. 

Me: A virtual reality? 

She: The new super reality. God is digital. Technology is the new god.

Me: So, in the sophisticated, engineered, super-intelligent, non-biological universe, what happens to imagination ‒ dreams, whimsy, art, dance, music, storytelling, poetry and, most of all, humor? And hope? Where’s the hope?

She: Hope … dreams … wishes? It’s only in the connecting, the hearing, the listening … the coming together. It will be dismissed.

Me: Artists have always been able to make hope come alive ‒ it’s that glow in the back of the cave. Art has the power to bring people together.

She: Sensations bring us together, the things that are felt, not easily defined or measured. It’s the beauty inside our minds.

Me: But what if we all become smart robots? What if there aren’t any artists? Just “AI”? What happens to imagination, dreams … the flights of fanciful beauty? 

She: They will be gone. The doors will slam shut on all those little passageways in the brain that are filled with trembling awareness ‒ the shivering that comes with a new understanding. So dream while it’s still conceivable. Look as much as possible. Grab for all the imagination you can. 

Me: So, I should go down painting? 

She: With colors so powerful they take my breath away …

Me: Colors that dance to glorious music …

She Leaping, twirling, laughing … 

Me: Soaring on particles of light …

She: Breaking loose. 

Me: Freedom!

At the Galleries

“GOLDEN CROWS”, 2021. Oil on two, 37” x 48” stacked canvases. Raucous Jamaican Crows, A bold, fierce statement in gold. To canvases, two lovers, three loud, early morning, feathered creatures. Spent weeks with them in Sunning Hills, Jamaica wallowing in callaloo leaves and warm, sticky golden,
honey hives.

2022 Regional Juried Exhibit
Hill Center Galleries
921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

This is really a terrific show. Artists from the DC, Maryland and Virginia metropolitan area submitted original work and 118 pieces were selected, including some by Cheryl Foster (see Artist Profile). Prizewinners have been selected by the juror, arts consultant Claude Elliot. The gallery is now viewer-accessible as well as virtual. www.hillcenterdc.org/galleries

Art for Humanity – American Painting Fine Art
5125 MacArthur Blvd. NW,  Suite 17
Through May 

The war in Ukraine has had an immediate impact on gallery owner and artist Andrei Kushnir, who is of Ukrainian descent. This show is a fundraiser, donating 50% of the proceeds to the Ukrainian Red Cross. Gallery artists featured in the special exhibition are Alexangel Estevez, Michael Francis, Andrei Kushnir, the late Ross Merrill, Carol Spils and Michele Martin Taylor. www.http://americanpainting.com

Anne Marchand / Abstractions
Sacred Heart University’s Science Center
4450 Park Ave. , Bridgeport, Connecticut
To May 15

You still have a couple of weeks to see this incredible work. Anne doesn’t just put paint on a canvas; she takes off for the great spaces and ideas of the universe. They will take you with them if you let them. Just stand in front of one for a while and let your mind soar. If you can’t get to Connecticut in the next two weeks, take a look at  www.annemarchand.com.

Studio Gallery
2108 R St. NW
To May 21 

This is an excellent exhibition of five accomplished artists who give you more than professionalism. The themes are often emotional and personal while connecting with all viewers. Micheline Klagsbrun, Elizabeth Curren, Carolee Jakes, Carol Rubin and Suliman Abdullah. www.studiogallerydc.com

Structure as Form – Touchstone Gallery
901 New York Ave. NW
May 6-29
Opening: Fri., May 13, 6-8 p.m.
Artist Talk: Sat., May 21, 2 p.m. 

McCain McMurray developed his love for structure, form and color from over 30 years working as an architect. He abstracts architectural elements using structure, colors, textures and layering to explore a “view.” www.touchstonegallery.com

Capitol Hill artist and writer Jim Magner can be reached at [email protected].