Posted by Lindsey Corter

    The Stravitz Galleries are excited to announce the arrival of new paintings by Richmond artist, Holly Markhoff. We love Holly’s joyful, spontaneous work and eagerly await each unfolding manifestation of her talents.


    Holly Markhoff is a contemporary, mixed media artist born in New York City. She grew up outside of Washington, D.C. and currently lives in Richmond with her husband, two children and two dogs. As Holly does her work, she moves the canvases around her house and studio to “live with” as they are being created. From easel to counter to chairs by windows, she soaks in the balance, design, color and movement from various perspectives until each hue, line or texture reveals its place and purpose.


    Holly’s paintings are often simply directed by the materials used. Her ladies, inspired by Modigliani, are often bedazzled with bits of lace, rhinestone jewelry and brocaded fabrics. The angularity of the forms and the serenity in each facial expression is highlighted by dazzling colors and textures. Who wouldn’t want a group of magnificent women looking out from their wall with love and acceptance, the peaceful mistresses of all they survey? One such piece has just crossed our threshold!! “Three Sisters and a Golden Egg,” measuring 24” x 30” depicts three lovely women in ivory and lavender shifts with heavily encrusted collars. A golden egg in one sister’s hand and a golden bird on one sister’s shoulder underscore the circular nature of life and love.


    Also new are several departures for Holly. “Taking Flight” is a smaller (15” x 20”) oil featuring a gilded woman in the midst of a swirl of emotional color. She is self-contained and complete: unafraid of the chaotic energy around her. She is, in fact, a conduit for this power and could easily leap beyond the confines of gravity, leaving this world behind forever. “Bursting Through Blue” and “Wildflowers” represent looser, more liberated versions of Holly’s much loved, highly collectible florals.


    Drop by sometime soon and help Holly Markhoff and the Stravitz Galleries spread the joy!!


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  • Introducing New Artist, Amy Fletcher!

    Posted by Lindsey Corter

    The Stravitz Galleries are happy to introduce Hampton Roads to award-winning artist, Amy Fletcher. Born and raised in the verdant woods of New Hampshire, Amy studied Fine Art in college before heading off (like all good artists) to Paris. Upon her return to the States, she earned her B.A. in International Studies with minors in Fine Art and French.

    We currently have four of Amy’s color-saturated works in our Laskin Road Gallery. Definitively in the style of “les Fauves,” (French for “the wild beasts”), her work stands up to the best characteristics of this movement. Although the subject matter generally exhibits a high degree of simplification and abstraction, the bold brush work and strident colors work together to evoke emotional experience rather than physical reality.

    The intense colors in the works of Cezanne and Gauguin were key influences on Fauvism; similar to Expressionism in its aim of expressing meaning rather than representing reality, “les Fauves” were reacting to the realistic values retained by Impressionism.

    Amy Fletcher’s flowers and trees are recognizably representational yet her color choices are passionate—beyond what nature can reliably achieve. There is joy in her pink and purple trees; song in her neon flowers and a profound calm in her blues and greens. Please spend some time in our gallery to absorb the spectacular energy of Amy Fletcher’s new work.

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  • The Benefits of Art (Blog 1)

    Posted by Lindsey Corter

               I’m a huge believer that art is not only an essential part of life, but feel it is extremely important for children to have art play a role in their lives as they grow.  It’s been proven that art helps kids and young adults in many ways.  I’ll discuss these over a series of blogs. 

              So you ask, what are the arts good for?  This can be answered in a variety of ways.  I believe Dana Gioia, poet and national endowment chairman for the Arts said it best.  “Art is an irreplaceable way of understanding and expressing the world.  There are some truths about life that can be expressed only as stories, or songs, or images. Art delights, instructs, consoles. It educates our emotions.”  I personally believe art brings intelligence, acceptance and joy, plain and simple.  It seems the stress level has grown greatly in the school system today, at least from when I attended.  You can call me old if you’d like, but I’m only 33!  Today, students not only have to worry about all the required standardized testing, taking AP classes and the competition of aquiring a GPA over 4.0 "perfect", but college is spoken about to kids very early on.  When I went to school, we didn’t start thinking about college or even discussing it until the age of 15!  My mother is a teacher in the lower school at Cape Henry Collegiate.  She started an enrichment program there for the entire lower school.  In discussing the pressure in schools today and the positive effects of art on children, I found it very validating that when asked about how art class makes her feel, one of my mother’s students at the age of 10 said, “It cools kids down after all the other hard stuff they have to think about.” 

              Making it essential to encourage art in schools may just be my opinion, but there are now facts that prove this should happen!  Scientists have used sophisticated brain imaging techniques to examine how music, dance, drama, and the visual arts might positively affect cognition and intelligence. Such work, the researchers claim, is a crucial first step toward understanding whether art can actually make people smarter in ways that can be measured.  In 1990, researchers from the University of California looked specifically at college students.  They concluded that 10 minutes of Mozart before taking certain parts of an intelligence test improved their scores.  This was referred to as the “Mozart Effect.”  Fast forwarding to 2007, another group of researchers who studied at Harvard Graduate School wrote an article that appeared in the Boston Globe.  From their studies, Hetland and Winner said, “It’s true that students involved in the arts do better in school and on their SAT's than those who are not involved,”   Working in high school art classes, they found that arts programs teach a specific set of thinking skills rarely addressed elsewhere in the school curriculum.  They call this “studio habits of mind.” One key habit was “learning to engage and persist,” meaning that the arts teach students how to learn from mistakes and press ahead, how to commit and follow through. “Students need to find problems of interest and work with them deeply over sustained periods of time,” write Hetland and Winner.

              Researchers also found that the arts help students learn to “envision”.  That’s a skill that offers payoffs in many different areas of life, not just the arts.  We need the arts because they remind children that their emotions are equally worthy of respect and expression.  The arts introduce children to connectivity, engagement, and allow a sense of identification with themselves and others.  Elliot Eisner, professor of art and education at Stanford University said, “The arts, like no other subject, give children the media and the opportunity to shape and communicate their feelings.” 

              In conclusion, it is clear to me, that the arts benefit children today by bringing expression, confidence, intelligence and joy, just to name a few.  What do YOU think the arts bring to the school system?  I’ll discuss this topic further in my next blog.

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  • Welcoming Artist, Brien Cole!

    Posted by Lindsey Corter

    Brien Cole, wine artist par excellence, has come to Virginia Beach and he has come to conquer!! When the Stravitz Galleries first encountered Brien’s incredibly detailed, almost 3-dimensional work, we mistook it for photography. Now that his pieces are on display in our gallery, we still can’t quite believe his meticulous renderings of wine at table or tasting, are oil, watercolor and charcoal. They are,though, and we are thrilled to be introducing him to the area.

    The artistic movement known as Realism began in France in the 1850s as a rejection of the previous period of Romanticism which had dominated the arts since the late 18th century. Precise, detailed and accurate representations replaced more idealistic, stylized ones; this genre has remained in vogue and includes Photorealism, which is a representation created specifically from a photograph.  The attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoiding artistic conventions or supernatural elements is a hallmark of this style of art.

    The skill and care that goes into Brien’s faithful representations includes wooden tables that could almost be touched because the grain is so clear and glasses that reflect their surroundings and vividly highlight the etching from every side of the drinking vessel. The labels on each bottle and the corks beside them are so incredibly articulated that the viewer is drawn in to the setting in a way that almost makes the smell of great wine float in the air.

    A member of the Oil Painters of America and the International Guild of Realism, Brien has had his work displayed at the State Capitol building in Annapolis as well as the tasting rooms at Barboursville, Perigeaux and Elk Run Vineyards. It is an honor and a privilege to have him hanging here at 1217 Laskin Road, Virginia Beach, VA. Please come by to see these surprisingly real images and to learn more about Brien Cole, visit his website at www.briencole.com.

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  • New Artist - Amanda Outcalt

    Posted by Amy Kitchin

    We are very excited to introduce one of our new artists, Amanda Outcalt.  Amanda currently teaches art at Larchmont Elementary in Norfolk. She is a graduate of East Carolina University with a BFA in Painting and Metal Design. Her work has been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach and her piece entitled, “Amanda Enjoys Long Walks on the Beach” was purchased and is on permanent display there; it was chosen as the image for the Boardwalk Art Show commemorative poster in 2010. In addition to being at Stravitz Fine Arts and Sculpture, she is also being shown at Hardy’s Jewelry as part of their “Sticks and Stones: Interwoven Concepts Inspired by Nature” show.

    We have a series of paintings in our Laskin Gallery that we are thrilled to bring to the art-loving public’s attention. The images depict the artist and several of her friends as they operate in the domestic sphere. In the boudoir performing one’s toilette before greeting the world or pulling out a Thanksgiving turkey for the big presentation to a waiting family, Amanda’s fond gaze lingers on the subject as she performs her expected duties. In moments sublimely singular, whether in the bath or in the privacy of tea and contemplation, Amanda cleverly adds a crew of goldfish, led by Frederic (a former pet and piscine companion) as a parallel to life in a glass bowl as well as a way to beg the question, “Can we, as women, grow beyond the boundaries of our domestic lives and prosper or must we forever be the gazed upon?”

    A heavy question indeed and one that becomes lighter for the viewer (and fellow contemplative) in the Technicolor orange of the goldfish and the pinks of a girl’s world. If you prefer a less heady approach to your art, this artist celebrates finding magic within the mundane and learning to be happy with the ordinary.

    Amanda describes her painting as a way to examine and embrace the changing roles of women; each image reveals the conflict she feels about fulfilling traditional feminine roles while seeking her own independence. Goldfish are representatives of abundance, happiness and good fortune; however, they can also be a symbol of entrapment. In domestication, a goldfish can only grow to the size of its bowl.  

    Please drop by and join us at 1217 Laskin Road as we consider these, and many other queries concerning the meaning of life!

    Click here to view details on the following pieces...

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