Monday, December 8, 2014

Midway Branch Library hosts reception and showing of work by artist John Berry, to be on display until Dec. 30

By Sidney Rose Emison
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Midway Branch of the Woodford County Library is hosting a gallery of renowned artist John Thomas Berry’s work on selected dates through December 30. Berry is hosting the showcase of his eclectic array of artwork, which is mostly Andalusian horse paintings, but also includes canine charcoal portraits and landscape paintings.
Midway artist John Thomas Berry's work was first displayed during a Dec. 2 reception at the library.
Berry, who lives on West Higgins Street, has lived all over the United States, but moved to Midway years ago, and has loved the opportunity to paint the subjects he enjoys most, horses. And the Bluegrass state may be the best area to practice that profession.

“I was born in Texas. Raised in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa,” Berry said during a Dec. 2 reception for him at the library. “And then moved to Michigan, then spent 13 years in California, 17 years in Taos, New Mexico; and I’ve been here 10 years. … I love Midway, it’s fabulous.”

Prior to pursuing a full-time art career, Berry trained and showed horses professionally. His work has received awards from such prestigious organizations as the American Academy of Equine Art and the Hudson Valley Art Association in New York City. His paintings hang in private and corporate collections throughout the United States, Ireland, England, France and Spain.

Diana Ratliff is a fan of Berry’s work and purchased a painting at the Dec. 2 reception. “I love this piece because it is an Andalusian and they are Spanish horses,” Ratliff said. ”One of my friends, who is going to be the beneficiary of this Christmas gift . . . and several members of her family went to Spain a few years ago and took riding lessons and rode Andalusians the whole time they were there, so I thought it was a beautiful Christmas gift for her.”

Berry and Midway gallery owner Mary Thoreson have collaborated since Berry moved to the area at about the same time Mary retired from nursing and bought the gallery with her husband.

Thoreson said she couldn’t quite remember how she and Berry met, but she knew they respected each other’s work. “I think it was mutual, but I have an Andalusian horse and he does a lot of Andalusian art. So there was a draw through that,” she said, adding that Berry recently did a painting of the horse.
Mary and Eric Thoreson’s Damselfly Gallery consistently features three works by Berry among those of 200 regional artists and artisans, many of them horse-inspired paintings and sculptures. Mary Thoreson’s favorite piece in the library gallery on Tuesday was an Andalusian charcoal piece that she said was “extremely expressive of the breed.”

Berry said he decided to move to Midway after a friend in Versailles convinced him it could benefit his career.

“Her name is Cindy Wolf and she’s a very well-known sculptor and she said, ‘Why don’t you come here, since this is a large part of your market and it’s the home of horses? If it doesn’t work then at least you made the move.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, that makes so much sense and of course it would never occur to me.’ And I’m still here and I love it.”

Berry said he was always interested in the arts, but rediscovered his passion for the arts in his 40s. He thinks young people are being deprived of the nurturing aspect of art.

“I feel sorry for the youth of our nation actually, because most schools are not teaching art, which I think is a great sadness,” he said. “Art, at its best, speaks to your soul and it creates a sense of beauty and I don’t know if that is something we have a lot of in our lives. And so I just think it’s so important for young people, in particular, to be made aware of the arts. Not just painting and sculpting, but literature and all of the arts, music, et cetera. Because those are things that really nurture the soul.”

For more information on Berry's current schedule visit http://calendar.kentucky.com/performer.aspx?perf_id=2163116. For more information about his art contact him at Box 4330, Midway; 859-846-9948; or jtber3@aol.com. Here's a video report, with an interview of Berry:

For a higher-quality version of the video, by Caitlin McPherson of the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telcommunications, click here.

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