'Land and Sea' is theme of Firehouse Gallery art show

“Land and Sea” opened at the Firehouse Gallery at Walnut Beach Thursday evening. The latest themed art show includes 61 paintings, photos and mixed media pieces that reflect some element of land or sea.

First place went to Wallace Sloves, whose oil painting, “Panoramic Waves,” depicts water crashing on rocks. The piece is actually three canvases put together to create the panoramic scene.

Sloves is a first-time participant in the Milford Fine Arts Council’s art shows at Walnut Beach, according to volunteer Besse Iassogna.

There were more than 70 entries, which were whittled down by juror Eric Stegmaier, senior conservation assistant of the Yale Center for British Art.

Unlike Sloves, other entrants are regulars in Milford’s art shows and Milford’s art circles. Brechin Morgan, for example, is a well-known Milford artist who once sailed solo around the globe, painting as he went.

Rick Senft is another local artist. He sells his art at the Gilded Lily downtown and other local shops. One of his entries in the Firehouse Gallery show, “Backyard,” is an oil painting focusing on a vase in front of a window. The window offers a glimpse of a sandy beach and the ocean.

“It’s like my studio. But my backyard doesn’t look anything like that,” Senft said, indicating the sand and sea in the painting. “That’s what I wish my backyard looked like.”

The form of a scuba diver can be seen in Jamie Vega’s “Tropical Paradise,” an acrylic painting that his friend Carla Terry Kern described as “very mysterious.” The diver’s face is dark and masked in the water; an effect the artist said helped create that bit of mystery.

The walls of the Firehouse Art Gallery are filled with these and more paintings of oceans, a light house, seagulls, sunrises and a striking moon reflecting over a calm ocean. There are lakes, desert blooms and a Tuscan farm house.

This is the sixth themed show this year, and it will run until Sept. 27. All the pieces are for sale; gallery hours are Friday to Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m.

Artist Gail Bowman said this latest theme was perfect for her because she lives in the Lordship section of Stratford and enjoys views from there of the sea and sky.

“This is an area I go by all the time,” she said, pointing to “Stratford Marsh,” an acrylic painting of a small stream running through the marsh near the Stratford airport, with a moving, changing sky above.

Wes Swanson works as a custodian to pay the bills but creates mixed media art in his free time, a passion he would like to take to the next level one day. His multi-media entry in the Firehouse Gallery show is called “Beauty on the Rock,” and is a mermaid he fashioned from shells and pieces of shells, which he painted. The rock on which the mermaid sits is made of small photographic images of rocks, and the background is painted with acrylics.

Lori Mack’s “Moonlight II” is a purple whale jumping from a purple ocean under a purple moon.

“My granddaughter loves purple, and she loves biology and nature,” Mack said, explaining that she painted the piece with her granddaughter in mind. “To me, this piece is about wonder, and being one with nature. Most of my paintings are all about chi.”

The final two shows of the year will be “From Soil to Table,” running Oct. 10 to Nov. 8, and then a non-themed show Nov. 21 to Dec. 20 to end the year.

(Entries for “From Soil to Table” will be accepted at the Firehouse Gallery Sept. 27, 28 and 29. Entries for the non-themed show will be accepted Nov. 8, 9 and 10. For more information go to Milfordarts.org.)