The Forest Hills Fine Arts Center is hosting the first-ever exhibition of artist Carmella Loftis through September 22.
Loftis began painting in 2000 when her husband, artist and owner of Sanctuary Folk Arts Reb Roberts, gifted her a paint set, brushes and plywood boards with instructions to, “Paint some pictures.”
Of the first time she picked up a brush, Lofti’s says, “I felt inspired to try, to not be afraid and just do it.”
Now, 17 years later, she boasts a vast body of work that depicts a tremendous range of subjects. The works hanging on the gallery walls at the fine arts center portray giant, sharp cornered flowers, overwhelming portraits of native cultures, women with butterfly faces, dancing figures reaching to sparkling skies and more, including a standout piece of characters from the classic TV show, “The Honeymooners” on a bus headed to the moon.
The collection of paintings bearing bold colors holds a deep charm, inviting the viewer to step into the artist’s compelling and playful world in the manner only art unrestrained by a frame can. The works are vibrant with movement, some embellished with words and poems winding through them like a river, and patterns of squares, circles and dashes dance around the subjects. Loftis even fixes found objects onto some paintings, reclaimed material incorporated into a rich world and made to be beautiful.
“When I see something that strikes me, I feel a connection and vision comes,” she said.
Loftis is drawn to the soothing, meditative quality of the painting process.
“I love the connection you make with yourself while painting,” she said. “When you sit down, pull out your brushes and move paint around on the board, it pushes everything else aside.”
She hopes that viewers walk away from the exhibit feeling positive and inspired.
“I hope to make somebody feel good and happy,” she said. “When you are an artist, you want to give something to people; you want them to know that they can do it, too.”