Philly Creative Guide

Guest Columnist

Nancy E. F. Halbert

Cooperation at MUSE Gallery: A Volunteer Director Speaks
by Nancy E. F. Halbert , 1 Mar 2011

Dancer turned painter, an administrator, and teacher, devoted to the Philadelphia arts for over thirty years.

MUSE Gallery hours are Wednesday thru Sunday, 12-5 pm. MUSE is located in Old City, at 52 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA. www.musegalleryphiladelphia.com.


As I finish preparing my work for the April Show at the artists' cooperative, MUSE Gallery, where I have been a member for the past four years and now its' Director, I ask myself "Am I ready?" My thoughts shoot at me at 30 second shots, my brush strokes are 30 second whirls; eating breaks last 30 seconds, preparing the nourishment needed: 30 seconds. Sleeping verses awake, 30 seconds. Bathroom breaks, 30 seconds. If my drink at the bar doesn't get to me within 30 seconds, I seek out the waiter, takes me 30 seconds. But, the amount of hours that it takes to create the twenty some pieces for such a show cannot be counted in seconds, but in holy moments of divine creative impulses that you hope will come to you which can take hours in the studio to unveil.

I did not always paint. I was a choreographer and dancer and I have a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from Temple University. After years of dancing, I made a life change-marriage and children. My goals and body shifted. As a retired dancer, I transferred all of my creative energy to learn to draw, paint, and teach art. I received a Masters in Teaching Art from the University of the Arts. I teach at numerous art centers the basics in painting and drawing, realizing first hand how difficult it can be, to begin to put line to paper.

Cooperation at MUSE Gallery:  A Volunteer Director Speaks

I began to paint what I know best, the balance between energy and stillness, motion to evoke emotion, my own personal journey. Traditionally, I begin as I would when choreographing a dance, one element moving into the next.

I found that advancing from hobby to professionalism is scary, yet I found the needed support to make the leap with other artists choosing a similar path at MUSE Gallery in the heart of Old City. Philadelphia has an amazing and diverse group of classes, workshops and community events that if the artist chooses can pull themselves out of their studio and into the needed interaction of others. They remind you that you are not alone on this artistic journey. MUSE Gallery was extremely helpful in gaining the confidence to display my frenetic thoughts and visions in paint.

Visitors who come to MUSE see exceptional art and may not realize the work it takes to run an artist cooperative gallery. MUSE has been in existence for thirty-four years and has always been based upon cooperation. Its' twenty-two reviewed and accepted members maintain the space, budget, schedule, publicity and shows. As a cooperative gallery we do not take half of an artists' proceeds, as a typical commercial gallery may, we take fifteen per cent, which makes the cost for the patron more affordable, but no less of a valuable piece of art. We salute each other as we meet our common goals, and most importantly, MUSE does not censor its members' art.

As the Volunteer Director of this gallery, I am honored to work with such talented individuals. Each member brings to the circle a variety of artistic styles and life experiences. MUSE members truly believe in the word "cooperation" which may be a lost art in today's society.

In April, MUSE Gallery will present "Horne & Halbert". I will be sharing with fellow member, and glass sculptor, Sara Horne. She will be showing hand blown and sandblasted glass mixed with silk organza that has been treated through the Japanese technique of shibori exploring her love of marine biology.

The contrast between our works demonstrates what makes MUSE Gallery unique and will definitely take more than 30 seconds to view.

"Horne & Halbert" opens March 30th with First Friday on April 1, 2011 and Meet the Artists Reception on Sunday, April 3rd, 1-4 pm. MUSE Gallery is also a participant of Philly Fun Guide's Gallery Night, Friday, April 15th, 5-8 pm.

MUSE Gallery hours are Wednesday thru Sunday, 12-5 pm. MUSE is located in Old City, at 52 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA. www.musegalleryphiladelphia.com.

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