Published: Jun 12, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Jun 12, 2012 04:34 PM
CHAPEL HILL - Normally, to enjoy the works of a couple dozen of our best local artists all in one place, you have to go to a gallery.
But a new project lets you do that in the comfort of your own home.
“Tree,” a new book by artist and illustrator Shelly Hehenberger, collects works by 30 Orange County artists – well-known ones such as Peg Bachenheimer, Luna Lee Ray and Jean LeCluyse as well as some others who are not yet quite so familiar – each of whom contributed a piece based on the theme of, well, trees.
“I had the manuscript in hand for an all-ages art book primarily extolling all the things trees are good for,” said Hehenberger, who moved to this area from Boone four years ago. “I was going to do all the artwork myself, but I realized that it would be so much more exciting and rich if it included the work of many different artists. It’s always mor fun to collaborate.”
She began casting about for participants. It turned out to be an easy sell. She asked five artist friends, who asked others they knew, and before long Hehenberger had 30 people on board, ranging from professional artists to talented high school students.
The group of 30 found so much in common that they gave themselves a name, Paintbrush Forest. They identify themselves as “a community of artists exploring the meaning of nature.”
“Tree” is just the first collective project for the group. Proceeds from sale of the book benefit the Haw River Assembly.
Hehenberger and some of the other members of Paintbrush Forest will be at McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village to discuss the book Saturday, June 16.
For “Tree,” Hehenberger let each artist choose a line from the text she had written. The passages explored aspects of trees ranging from the down-to-earth (literally) – “A tree’s roots help stop erosion and keep soil in its place” – to the poetic – “A tree is an old friend who is always willing to listen.”
Aside from that, Hehenberger’s only instruction was that “the main character should be a tree, one tree.”
The artists, as you might expect, went in myriad directions with their pages. They produced works in media ranging from fabric to paint to pen and ink to “photogram.” Some of the works are representational images, others border on abstract, and still others are conceptual.
Each artist worked the text into the artwork itself, rather than have a printed typeface.
“I love the wonderful range of creativity,” Hehenberger said. “One piece shows a tree only as a reflection in water. Every piece is so different.”