205 Self-Portraits – West Brookfield Young Artists on Display

West Brookfield, MA – March 3, 2018

Who am I? At some time in life, this thought may come into the consciousness. West Brookfield Elementary School (WBES) children grades 2 – 6 had a unique opportunity to look inside themselves and answer this question. Rebecca Fay, proprietor of the Worcester Art & Frame Gallery in downtown West Brookfield has dedicated space for the month of March to a unique, local exhibition of 205 Self-Portraits. Each image is a window into the child’s perception of who they are and what matters in their world.

The exhibit opened to the public on Saturday, March 3. An old grandfather clock gently chimed in the background as the public came into the shop. Children and their parents streamed inside to find their work of art amongst the large display. The exhibit takes up two full walls at the front of the gallery. Excited voices rang out, “that’s me, that’s me” as their portrait was found and shared with family. The children drew their images last fall in Ms. Kelly Mundell’s art class. Ms. Fay said for those children she knew, it was remarkable how some part of their personality came through in the drawing. “Some are funny, some are introspective, and it’s just amazing. I could stand here and stare at them all day.”

Some children drew a self-portrait that reflects on their own image visually or mentally. A patron said, “it’s what kids perceive themselves to be. It is amazing how they see each other. How they perceive themselves. How they look.” The children took great care in presenting their face and in particular, expression in the eyes. Hairstyles, clothing and personal effects were shared in detail.  Some children drew objects around them that had meaning in their lives. Animals, sports and music are in the background. Others gave insight into the importance of social connections with words floating around their image. Some images share emotions of the moment including what look like storms clouds around the mind. A few images share a wink back at the audience.

The plaque on the wall says, “These portraits are worthy of a show at the national gallery. Each image represents a child in our community. They represent individuals, but also our strength as one, standing together. When you look at them, you’ll see not only a resemblance to a face you might know, but also, our future, and the hopes and dreams of these remarkable young souls.”

The gallery also contains works from artists both local and throughout New England. Displays of pottery, woodcraft, prints, oil paintings and glass works greet the visitor around every corner. The shop is small, but the exhibits well laid out. There is space to move around easily and find something to appreciate.

The Worcester Art & Frame Gallery is located at 10 East Main Street, across the street from Ye Olde Tavern. The shop offers art by local artists and custom frame services. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.



Published in The Citizen Chronicle – West Brookfield student self-portraits on exhibit



Niche Art Retail on Social Media

Glass girlsGlassgirl’s Studio & Gallery in downtown West Brookfield Massachusetts is a unique emporium. In an area noted for antiquing, the shop sells a funky collection of handmade jewelry, art prints, and contemporary gifts more common to touristy towns like Northampton or Nantucket. Proprietor Jennifer Geldard, an international glass bead and jewelry artist, says, “its an uber-cool place to stop.” The challenge is attracting customers in a sleepy little town of 3,000. After two years in her current location, she has established a local and regional following. But, don’t think old retail. The savvy merchant brings the buyer into the store the virtual way. The social media sites, Pinterest and Facebook, help a niche retailer reach regular and new clientele.

Geldard is a self-taught lampworker using a propane torch to melt rods of Murano glass around a metal bar into intricate inlay beads. She started her craft 20 years ago, finding a network of artists and collaborators in on-line forums. Attendance at trade shows widened her connections and artistic skills. Geldard has taught bead classes in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and England. Her customers can shop for jewelry and art illustrations on the shops professional social media pages. Sales are sometimes made with the iPhone app Facetime allowing clients to see the item advertised a lot closer.

GeldardGeldard prefers to devote her time in studio to her art. “I am an artist, I don’t want to spend my energy trying to advertise my jewelry and art. I make enough money to pay the costs, that’s all I want to do, take care of the rent so I have the freedom to create. I couldn’t survive here on my art and jewelry alone, I had to bring in the other merchandise to pay the bills. I brought in Rebecca recently to share the retail space. My focus is on being a successful artist. The town supports that after two years of building a following.” Many of her best clients are other glass bead makers. The time, effort, and expertise required to produce a quality finished piece is understood best by others in the profession.

Geldard also wants to do children’s book illustration. She is taking an on-line course from Make Art That Sells with Lilla Rogers. Instructor Gabriella Buckingham says, “it is a unique resource for artists who are passionate about what they do and determined to make a living out of their art while staying true to their style.” The course teaches the artist how to create a professional portfolio and pitch it to an editor. Techniques for selling are learned including how to teach and live feed sketching from in the studio.

2b2934_a885aeaf47944524b7eda47ba68e89b7.jpg_srz_310_310_85_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzRebecca Fay has taken over a corner of retail space with her Worcester Art & Frame Shop. One more service now offered in town bringing more foot traffic into the store. The shop has some challenges in location being set back on Main Street between Haymakers Grille and Premier Online Services. Geldard has been puzzled how to grow her business as foot traffic is limited to walkers and visitors attending local events.


Glassgirls Studio & Gallery

Jennifer Scott Geldard, Glass Art, Illustration and Design

Make Art That Sells