Sweet Briar celebrates Amherst through art

A new exhibition in Benedict Gallery, “Sweet Briar Celebrates Amherst I,” will feature landscapes in oil and pastel by Madison Heights artist Marion Freerks. The show, which is free and open to the public, opens Thursday, Jan. 28, and is on view until March 13.

Marion Freerks, "Indian Rocks on the Blue Ridge Parkway," ca. 2010, oil on canvas. Courtesy of Martin Freerks.
Marion Freerks, “Indian Rocks on the Blue Ridge Parkway,” ca. 2010, oil on canvas. Courtesy of Martin Freerks.

All 15 works on display depict Amherst County’s beautiful scenery, says Sweet Briar galleries director Karol Lawson. They were all painted by Freerks, who passed away in September 2015, and have been loaned to the exhibition courtesy of her husband, Martin, and their children.

Freerks began taking classes with a local art club in 1986. Beginning in the early 2000s, she took her work to a “more serious level,” says Lawson, attending “plein air” workshops with Carl Dalio, Albert Handell and Ron Boehmer.

In recent years, Freerks also taught a group of aspiring artists in Madison Heights. An example of her work was included in Sweet Briar’s exhibition “Red Clay and Blue Mountains” in 2011. She also was a regular exhibitor at the Lynchburg Art Club’s show, held every September at E.C. Glass High School.

Freerks worked in all media, but, as Lawson notes, “her real gift was in pastels. She truly mastered that material and her Amherst scenes carry a style and touch very reminiscent of Impressionism. They are quite beautiful — both as recognizable scenes and as technical drawings.”

Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, email Lawson at klawson@sbc.edu or call (434) 381-6248.