Athenaeum Art Gallery reopens to showcase regional ‘visionaries’



WESTFIELD artist Insun Russell is putting the finishing touches on the paintings she will be exhibiting when the Jasper Rand Art Gallery reopens on September 7 at the Westfield Athenaeum.

“As Director of the Athenaeum, I believe this institution has a unique opportunity to bring high quality art to the Westfield community,” said Guy McLain, Executive Director. “We are extremely fortunate in western Massachusetts that there are a number of prominent artists living in our area.”

McLain said the Athenaeum was “perfectly positioned” to showcase the important work of these artists.

Artist Insun Russell is working on a painting titled “Summer Blessing” in his home studio in Russell. (PHOTO LORI SZEPELAK)

“The Athenaeum has traditionally served as a center of learning and culture in Westfield, and we have a large gallery perfectly designed to showcase art,” he said, adding that the art gallery will function as a shopping mall.

In a recent interview with Russell at her picturesque hilltop home in Russell, she spoke of her passion for painting and how grateful she was for being chosen to lead the new series of exhibitions at the Athenaeum.

“The first time I had a show at the Athenaeum was 20 years ago,” said Russell, who has lived in the city for 29 years.

What she loves most about the house she shares with her husband Bill is the beauty of nature that surrounds her from all angles.

His show is called “Surrounded by the Forest” and will feature watercolors and mixed media in most 10 × 12 and 14 × 20 scenes, all of which will be available for purchase. She also expects to have one or two 18 × 24 works to exhibit.

The show opens September 7 during normal Athenaeum hours. A reception in the Wine and Cheese Gallery is scheduled for September 16 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., allowing area residents to meet Russell, socialize and view the exhibit.

“The reason I think this exhibition will be of interest to the community is that Insun has developed a unique style based on his impressions growing up in Korea, learning techniques characteristic of Asian art, and then combining them with his experience of painting. life in the United States. States and absorbing many of the ideas embodied in 20th century Western art, ”McLain said, adding,“ Artists give us unique ways of seeing the world, and given Insun’s unusual history, she brings a very original perspective to his art.

Russell noted that she took time each day to paint in her home studio.

“Every two hours I stop and go out to enjoy the beauty of the day,” she said.

A close-up of Insun Russell’s attention to detail on his painting titled “Summer Blessing”. (PHOTO LORI SZEPELAK)

Russell, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, began her art studies at Hongik University in Seoul. She met her husband in Seoul while serving in the US Air Force in 1976. The couple married on November 29, 1977. After moving to the United States, she continued her education at Santa Monica College and then they chose to make Russell their home since Bill has family ties to the hill towns. They have a son, Jeremiah, who is married and serves in the US military as a helicopter pilot.

“His thought-provoking work reflects influences from Asian culture and Western modernism, and his art is found in collections from Los Angeles to Cape Cod,” added McLain.

In addition to the fifteen or so paintings by Russell that will be on display, she will also exhibit some of her small pottery sculptures that give her pleasure when she creates them. The sculptures will be presented in a display case within the gallery.

“Since I was a child, I have seen sea urchins and have been inspired by them in my sculptures,” she said.

Artist Insun Russell will also showcase a variety of pottery sculptures at his exhibition “Surrounded by the Forest” at the Westfield Athenaeum this fall. (PHOTO LORI SZEPELAK)

During the exhibition which runs from September 7 to October, it will also have a guest book and welcome comments from visitors.

“All of my paintings evolve from nature,” said Russell, noting that she adores capturing the beauty of nature she sees on her travels to the ocean as well as stepping out of her house to see the ground of the forest in just a few steps.

“I am so grateful to be able to paint and share the figures that I see from nature,” she said, adding that “it is a gift that I cherish”.

Russell, a Westfield-based ArtsWEST member, is also grateful for his long-standing friendship with fellow artist Marie Flahive.

“Marie has always encouraged me since we first met and I consider her a very good friend,” said Russell.

Artist Insun Russell spends time every day in his home studio in Russell. (PHOTO LORI SZEPELAK)

Exhibitions are also planned in the coming months, including “Highlights of the Westfield Athenaeum Art Collection” from November to January, and “Ruth Kjaer: The Myth of Utopia”, from January to March.

“Over the past century and a half, the Westfield Athenaeum has actively collected landscapes, still lifes and portraits from Westfield artists,” McLain said, noting that many portraits are among the city’s principal citizens.

McLain added that Kjaer is recognized as one of the most important artists currently active in the region.

“Over the course of more than 40 years, she has created an important body of work known for its originality and its willingness to address the problems facing American society in the present day,” he said.

As part of future exhibitions, McLain noted that in addition to receptions, lectures will also be incorporated into the theme of each exhibition.

For more information on the exhibitions and how to submit your own work for a future exhibition, visit or call (413) 568-7833.

“Now that we are able to open our doors again, we are committed to providing the community with the opportunity to see the work of these artists in an environment that allows viewers to truly contemplate and understand the work of these visionaries. “McLain said.



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