Mari Chandler glass art

Glass artworks by Mari Chandler are on display at Noble Gallery & Frame in downtown Anniston.

“It’s all about the line.” That’s the theme of the featured artists’ work in the current exhibit at Noble Frame & Gallery in downtown Anniston. But if you read between the lines of the theme title, you discover that the two artists use the line not only to catch the viewer’s eye but to control the eye’s movement. Even more, the use of lines can express different ideas and feelings.

Diana Cadwallader, with her color pencil works, and Kellie Lawler, with her continuous line drawings, are the featured artists. The exhibit will be up through October.

Twenty-five more artists add to the gallery with jewelry, woodworks, mosaic and fused glass, paintings and more. Everywhere there is color and curiosity.   

Cadwallader was born in England and has lived in four other countries. During her stays in different cities, she studied drama, working with a theater company as well as radio and television.

After returning to the U.S. to study graphic design, her final move was to Jacksonville almost 25 years ago, to teach art at Jacksonville State University. A special experience was designing the stage set for “The Late Mr. Shakespeare” at JSU, directed by Steve Whitton and featuring a 17th-century backdrop..

Her work has been  in national and international exhibits, including a total of 50 juried shows.

Since Cadwallader retired from JSU, she’s entered a new era of creativity including fiber art (making her own yarn) and printmaking. “I have my own press and spinning wheel,” she said. “I’m having a ball with new challenges.”

The newest challenge in her Pleasant Valley studio is collages, putting her flower presses to work for the collage centerpieces, which are dried leaves.

Her subjects are mystical, magical, mysterious and spiritual in nature. In part, they involve experiences from her upbringing. Her father was a pilot trainer and air surveyor. Born in Reading, England, Cadwallader also lived in Pakistan, Tanzania, Kenya and the British colony of Hong Kong.

In some of her works, the lines change color. Two of her most interesting line drawings are “Celestial Tartan I and II,” in which the lines intersect to create a plaid pattern.

What are her lines about? you may ask. “They are about emotions, people, places remembered and imagined, mysteries and legends. Also ‘what if’s’ — and ‘what then’s?’” she answers.

Lawler and her family moved to Anniston five years ago. “My husband’s job as a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon has moved us around a lot. As busy as we've been over the years, adding four children into our life along the way, something was always missing. It was only recently that I re-committed myself to the creative path,” she said.

Her main body of work is abstract continuous line paintings. Lawler definitely has a style of her own in this display of faces and figures drawn with blue lines. “I like creating other styles of art, but it is natural and organic for me to put my tool to paper and not lift it until the subject is complete,” she said.  

While the lines draw the eye to move in different directions, the bright stained glass mosaic displayed in the gallery’s front window draws you into the exhibit. It is the work of Mari Chandler.

Chandler always loved glass and had the opportunity to take a very elementary pendant fusing class offered at the Berman Museum. She fell in love with the result. This led her to search for somewhere she could learn more, thus beginning a two-and-a-half-year glass education with a studio in Talladega.

Currently, Chandler works with glass in two types and forms: stained glass mosaic and fused glass, which is kiln-fired. She especially loves to create stained glass mosaic art in old wooden glass pane windows. Pictures of current and past pieces are on her Facebook page at MGC Glass Fusion.

Elsewhere in the gallery, an acrylic painting of the old Anniston Opera House by Jerry Marks brings back the thrill of gala entertainment and a sense of pride in The Model City’s downtown history. This picture recalls an early evening’s look at the theater, built in 1883 at Noble and Tenth streets. Notable performers and speakers who walked the boards of the house include John Phillip Sousa, popular English Shakespearean actor Richard Mansfield and William Jennings Bryan, according to “Annie’s Town” by Tee Morgan.

The theater was modeled after The Winter Garden Theatre in New York City, which, beginning in 1850, was one of the premier theater showcases in the United States. Scenic artists from New York were brought into Anniston to decorate the opera house ceiling; the interior was appointed in red velvet.


Springwood Inn in Alabama magazine

Speaking of Anniston history, Springwood Inn, the bed-and-breakfast inn owned by Bob and Carolyn Orchid, is featured in the May/June issue of Alabama magazine. Springwood’s first owner was Samuel Noble, who, with Daniel Tyler, founded The Model City. In the inn’s playroom there is a stained glass window from the Anniston Opera House.

More about the article in next week’s column.

Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at herveyfolsom@yahoo.com.

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