Artists of the Brandywine Valley
Excerpts from a new book by Catherine Quillman.
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Freelance arts journalist Catherine Quillman had less than a year to complete her recently published art book “100 Artists of The Brandywine Valley” (Schiffer Publishing Ltd.) But the most challenging aspect was not, as she anticipated, writing its 256 pages. It was narrowing the field from the hundreds of accomplished artists who live and work there.
“In my publishing contract, my working title was ‘100 Artists of the Brandywine Valley,’” says Quillman, author of five books about the region. “That turned out to be a good title because it was a good way to focus on a valley long associated with a realist art movement known as the Brandywine tradition.”
Geographically, the Brandywine Valley is a diverse territory, extending some 60 miles from the source of Brandywine Creek to the Christina River. Quillman narrowed her search for 100 contemporary painters, sculptors and photographers by both their residency and their artistic approach.
The profiles here, edited for space, offer a glimpse of how the book evolved into what Quillman calls a comprehensive guide to the region’s art. The book’s six sections also present a microcosm of major art trends in America. They include Classical Realists such as sculptor A.J. “Buddy” Obara Jr. and photographer Michael Kahn, Contemporary Realists such as Peter Sculthorpe, and the Magic Realists and Storytellers of the Brandywine Valley, such as Jean Diver, Timothy Barr and Ken Mabrey. Here is a look at a few other local artists.
“100 Artists of the Brandywine Valley” is available at major area bookstores, as well as the museum shops at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington. For more, visit.schifferbooks.com.
Ken Mabrey was born in Dallas, Texas, and moved with his mother and brother at a young age to the northern region of Wilmington. He earned his undergraduate degree in the fine arts from Indiana University and a master’s from Yale University’s School of Art. He lives today in Arden, the historic, single-tax community established in 1900 in New Castle County. Although its residents once included Shakespearean actors and followers of the American Arts & Craft movement, Arden’s most famous association was with the socialist writer Upton Sinclair — a connection not lost on Mabrey, whose work is often centered on the failings of American society. Allowing his imaginative powers to take flight, he invents visual narratives he describes as “tempered with fantasy and braced with irony.”
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