Mason-Dixon Arrive, October 2007
Just about every political discussion these days covers a topic growing in importance by the minute – the environment. Thanks to the Oscar-winning documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, more and more Americans have become aware of the responsibility we all have to protect our Mother Earth. However, politics is not alone as an aspect of everyday life that has been affected by the importance of talking about the environment. Art, too, can open minds and generate passionate discussion on this emotionally charged issue – one that touches every human emotion.
Expressing her feelings on the environment in a loving, caring, non-controversial manner is Christine Graefe Drewyer, a celebrated local oil painter best known for her sweeping landscapes that beckon one to stop, slow down and reflect on the beauty all around us. Drewyer’s new solo exhibit, “Earth Rhythms,” will be on display at Bendann Art Galleries in Towson from Oct. 10-Nov. 3. A special artist’s reception will be held Oct. 13, 6-8pm. “This exhibit is focused on environmentally-oriented images intended to draw awareness to the environment. The land is a gift that sustains us, and it’s our duty to protect it,” says Drewyer, who lives in Annapolis but was raised in Phoenix, Md. Drewyer says that the exhibit at Bendann is especially important to her. “That was the gallery that I always wanted my work to be shown in since I grew up in the area. I love Bendann, especially since they have been around for so long and I have been represented there for over 10 years,” says Drewyer of the 148-year-old gallery.
“Christine is the star of the gallery,” says Lindsay Hamilton of Bendann Art Galleries. “She has been part of group exhibitions in the past, but her show this month will be our first one-woman show. Her first solo show is long overdue,” says Hamilton, noting that Drewyer will showcase 20 to 25 works. “She is well-known for her landscapes, but she is capable of a variety of work. I just saw one of her paintings of a wolf – I want to buy it so bad, I can’t see straight.”
Drewyer says that “Earth Rhythms” will be highlighted by her well-known landscapes, as well as animal paintings. “People will recognize local spots, including the Loch Raven area, which is always a constant in my work. In this show, there is a huge focus on Maryland – it’s such a beautiful state; there is almost too much to paint. From the mountains to the sea and everything in between, there is beauty everywhere, right in your own backyard. I especially like the pristine, unspoiled parts of Maryland.” Drewyer, who shows in six galleries and owns her own gallery in Annapolis, Main St. Gallery, also has two studios – one in Maryland and one in Michigan. “The studio is where I lose myself. In every crazy sense of the word, I am an artist,” she laughs.
As with many of her works, Drewyer evokes a spiritual expression in this show. “I wanted to emphasize the ‘oneness’ of life – how we are all so alike instead of focusing on our differences. Whether a landscape is of Maryland or Michigan or even France, there is always something that you can relate to, especially with sunsets, which have a universal appeal no matter where you are.” Drewyer says that she likes to focus on moments in time with a lot of her work – a sunrise or sunset or dusk, those quick glimpses of everyday life and describes her work as representational and tonal with a soft edge. “Original art has an energy all of its own,” she adds.
“When I paint, it’s an actual place. I’m a realist in that way; nothing is added or imagined. I paint in plein air, and then go back to the studio to finish the painting because of the various layers and tones.”
“When I saw the paintings Christine did of Loch Raven, I got so excited because these were places that I have been to and I knew the exact spot where she painted,” says Hamilton.
Drewyer says she was raised in a family of eight, the second child of six daughters, in the country, where she was constantly surrounded by animals, trees and gardens. She had a pet Black Angus cow named “Girl,” and a hound dog named “Elvis,” as well as other barnyard pets. Part of Drewyer’s artist statement pays homage to her love of nature: Painting for me is a celebration of beauty and creation. The work is a spiritual discipline and the making of art a sacred expression. In our fast-paced world and confusing times, our vision is easily clouded to the simple things that really matter: clean air and water, the farms and open spaces of our world and, of course, our precious families.“I hope that my paintings will instill in my children a sense of responsibility to protect the land,” says Drewyer, who notes that she gives 10 percent of her profits to conservation groups.
”Her work resonates with people. I believe the real mark of a successful artist is when you can see the artist’s heart and soul on the canvas. When I look at her paintings, they all bring peace and joy to me, which is not too common with a lot of art we see. Christine’s pieces live in my heart, and I think about them long after I’ve looked at them. I think of them every night when I go home,” says Hamilton.
“We’re all artists in our own way, whether it’s through gardening or architecture. I was born to be an artist, and I am blessed that I can paint for a living. It’s such a joy,” says Drewyer.