Every month, the Chautauqua Tower at Glen Echo Park in Glen Echo, Md. hosts a resident artist, providing a sought-after exhibition space and multiple opportunities to connect with the public and other artists for those who are juried or invited to participate.
Originally built as a Chautauqua retreat, the Tower is attached to the Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery, home to over 20 art instructors who teach over 30 art classes and workshops year round. The gallery also hosts weekly weekend shows with well-attended public receptions and is a stone's throw away from the Popcorn Gallery, also operated by the Glen Echo Partnership for Arts and Culture.
During the month of April, Gaithersburg artist Bonita Tabakin-Latterner will be painting in what doubles as studio and gallery space on the first floor of the Chautauqua Tower. She is sharing the residency with fellow painter Marcela Olivia Dorantes. Both women share an interest in nature and the spiritual.
Their work hangs up on the stone slabbed walls of the Tower, cascading lightly and colorfully across a chiseled grey relief. During daytime ample light pours into the space through tall windows that punctuate the thick walls. "Looking Forward - Health, Identity and Nature," is the title and theme of their residency. Their doors are open from 12:30 - 7:30 p.m. everyday.
While Dorantes paints wildlife, often illustrating its relationship to humanity in a neo-Fauvist yet representational vein, Tabakin-Latterner seeks to capture the abstract qualities of form and thought through her meditative watercolors, unmediated abstracts in acrylic and oil, and premeditated mixed-media narratives.
"My emphasis is luminosity - showing the best in the world - and helping people heal," said Tabakin-Latterner when I visited her at the Tower.
Following a personal tragedy, Tabakin-Latterner began taking art classes and found that color had a recuperative impact on her health. She found that particular combinations were especially healing.
While she has some theories about what color combinations men prefer versus women, she admits that each person is different and what works for one person may not for someone else.
As part of her residency, she has organized three public outreach events at the Tower, including an art reception on April 14 from 4:30 - 7:30 p.m.; an art talk on April 21 from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.; and an art demonstration on April 29 from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.
The art talk will focus on her experiences testing people for color affinities, which might help them heal.
"Health professionals refer people to me, and I test their responses to color. Most people respond to the same colors for the same reasons," said Tabakin-Latterner.
Her expertise in helping others on a personal level parallels her interest in global problems.
Profits from sales during her residency are going to Marine Major Jeff Hackett's widow and children.
"Chopping Time 2060 - The Energy Paradox," is a series of mixed-media visual narratives that Tabakin-Latterner is developing around the theme of the environment and society's dependence on potentially ominous natural energy sources.
"We're obsessed with petroleum," said the artist who is wondering and questioning, rather than outright condemning this dependence. "I want people to ask how can we harness sun flares, how can we harness cold conditions?"
"Looking Forward - Health, Identity and Nature," not only strikes a note of optimism, but also marks a seminal transition in the artist's career.
During April (April 15 and 22), Tabakin-Latterner will be teaching a two-day class at PLAZA Artist Materials in Rockville.
Following her one-month residency at Glen Echo, she will be moving to a studio in Bethesda, Md., located at 6402 Landon Lane.
She is planning a kick-off reception some time in September, but she can be reached at her new location, starting mid-May, by leaving a message at 301-762-8789 or calling 301-920-4116. Her contact email is firstname.lastname@example.org
A retrospective of her work is available on her website.