Local Artistic Duo To Have “Water And Wood” Exhibit At Visitors Center During Lewisburg First Fridays

Work by local artistic duo Jeanne and Bruce Brenneman will be on display at the Greenbrier Valley Visitors Centers during Lewisburg’s First Fridays After Five.

The show “Wood and Water” will open at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 7.

Jeanne Brenneman is a founding member of Greenbrier Artists and a signature member of the West Virginia Watercolor Society. Her work has been featured in local, state and national juried exhibits.

She said she began to learn watercolors while a young mother of two living in South Carolina.

“My youngest daughter had just turned three and my oldest daughter had just started kindergarten,” Brenneman remembered. “I took a class at the local YMCA because I could take my younger daughter to the nursery. That was my first watercolor class. I was in my mid-20s.”

After those first beginner classes, Brenneman said she became hooked and started to paint as much as she could.

Her husband, Bruce, was working as a forester at that time and the couple moved to Rupert in 1973 when he was transferred to Westvaco Forestry.

“When we got up here, I didn’t have any chance to take watercolors, because in the 1970s there just wasn’t much art action going on,” Brenneman said.

Fortunately, she and a friend were able to meet on Thursdays to paint at each other’s house. Gradually, as more people found out about it, that group became Greenbrier Artists — a nonprofit organization that still meets on Thursdays and gives people the chance to practice and learn about art.

Over the years, Brenneman’s husband, Bruce, picked up his artistic skills as well.

“Bruce has worked with wood all of his life,” Brenneman said.

In addition to making furniture, since retirement, he found the time to practice woodturning. He is a current member of the WV Woodturners Association.

Because the pandemic forced a shut down of meetings, including woodturners meetings and art classes, Brenneman said she and her husband went into their basement and started turning bowls.

“That was our go-to therapy session,” Brenneman said. “We have probably cranked out 200 bowls.”

The bowls are crafted out of unusual or deformed sections of various tree species, which brings out a unique grain pattern, Brenneman explained.

“Every piece of wood is like a Christmas present,” she continued. “When you open it up, you get to see what’s inside.”

Brenneman added that wood that has seen better days can make the most beautiful pieces.

“The rottener the better,” she said. “Something that a bug ate a big hole in makes a very beautiful place in the wood when you fill it with epoxy.”

Brenneman said her husband has been turning the bowls, while she sands them and fills holes with epoxy.

“We kind of gravitate to the uneven bowls, the ones with natural edges and holes that need to be filled, the ones with beautiful grain that came because the tree was distorted in some way — that is what we love the best.”

All of the artwork featured in the display at the visitors center will be for sale, Brenneman said.

In addition to the visitors center display, the Brennemans share Studio Six at Lee Street Studios in downtown Lewisburg.

Brenneman said that due to the pandemic, the studio has irregular hours. For those who wish to see her and her husband’s artwork call 304-645-3050, or email bjbrenneman@gmail.com. An appointment can be made to let folks into the studio.

Additionally, Brenneman said the owners of Lee Street Studios, Michael and Jeanne Christie, are typically at the studio in building D.

“If somebody wants to get into the studio, go back to building D,” Brenneman said. “Typically Michael or Jeanne will be there.”

Jeanne Brenneman offers beginning and advanced watercolor classes at her Lewisburg home and at Carnegie Hall. Once restrictions ease, she said she looks forward to getting back together with other artists.

Her website is jeannebrenneman.com.

The Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center began the Art in the Valley exhibit in 2014 to highlight local artists. Each month the gallery space features a new artist, with an opening during First Fridays After Five. For more information about Art in the Valley or the Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center, contact 304-645-1000 or info@greenbrierwv.com.

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