The Painted Word: A world of creative surprises awaits you at “Art House”.
Art House “is a very, very, very nice house with two cats in the yard…”
At the risk of going out with me, both cats are “hep” as in “way cool” (60s beatnik lingo), and the house tucked away in the Fairfield Valley is full of floor-to-ceiling art. June is perhaps the ideal month for road trips. In fact, any time in the fall, it’s good to venture into the McCullough ‘Art House’.
Michael McCullough and his wife, Sharon Pierce McCullough, have made art their life, and it’s evident in the sanctuary they’ve built in their eclectic abode. Both artists work in a variety of media and their tastes, while singularly different, complement each other as depicted in their approaches and presentations. As with other married couples, they complement a yin and yang with wide latitude for boundless imagination coming together to create a rich, deeply textured holistic habitat. Both deal with abstract expressionist paintings, Sharon adding statuary and geometric equations to the mix. Trained in the self-taught field of “experience being the best teacher”, the couple constantly pushes their art to spectacular heights, embracing challenges as opportunities in the development of new work.
Michael began his career as a furniture maker, moving into photography, printmaking and painting. All mediums are based largely on one’s “connection and exploration with the world“.
“The work is meant to evoke an emotion or thought that is not necessarily mine,” the artist explained.
Michael’s oversized abstract paintings are often depicted on stretched canvases that permeate outdoor installations. He engages with the world through assemblage, drawing, photography and painting. It looks at “the personal interactions linking a place or a book to the creative process, often informed by the movement of layers of paint”. They bring remembrance and resolution. Michael’s work has been featured in national exhibitions including the Washington County Museum of Art in Maryland and the State Museum of PA in Harrisburg.
Sharon’s journey began as a “visual artist engaged in a multidisciplinary practice that encompasses painting and sculpture”, she said. His ever-expanding universe now eclipses four decades of creating his own artistic orbit.
With elements of cement, plaster, cardboard and found metal objects, his statues acquire a personality of their own. Standing up to 5 feet tall, they often appear larger than life. Colorfully abstract in their construction, the paintings she creates are lyrical and narrative, following the artist’s muse, leading her to develop a theme that becomes serialized. In their rendering, they offer a before, a now, and an after, allowing the viewer a full story at the end. She has a deep appreciation for negative and positive space, which influences the creative process, as well as color and form.
Geometric configurations play a recurring role in Sharon’s art, providing dimensional problem solving resulting in a different algorithm. Well known and shown, she is proudest of a statue on display at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. The juried exhibit features works created by the Washington Sculptors Group, of which she is a member. Additionally, McCullough won first place in the “Sculpture” category in 2015 at “Art of the State” at the PA State Museum. His work has included national and international stops in Europe.
Perhaps the elephant in the room is the house itself, in its role as repository of an ever-expanding collection created by the McCulloughs and friends, then curated to perfection by the couple. Pausing on the Cashtown property, one sees a scene already laid out with statues dotting the landscape, canvases floating out of line, and an area relegated to huge rustic wheels linking the present to the past. Part museum and part fantasy theme park, the property takes visitors back in time as you admire folk art that pays homage to historical tradition, offering treasure upon treasure that leads from vignette to vignette, room by room. Taken as a whole, the effect can feel like Alice in Wonderland is going down the rabbit hole. But, when taken in small doses, the art is educational and, as Graham Nash wrote, “windows are lit by the evening sun streaming through them.”
Art House largely exists for the art lover who embraces creativity and is ready to venture into a magical land of imagination and meaning, an enchanted world full of treasures, jewels and “jewels fiery for you, only for you.”
Art House “is a very, very, very beautiful house”. The “cats” are waiting.
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