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We See Them at Night by Nicole Parker

The National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) first-ever featured artist is local graphic designer and artist Suzanne Gaadt. It’s a fitting honor given Gaadt has emphasized nature in her whimsical designs for some time now. Living in the Brandywine Valley has provided ample inspiration for the award-winning artist. The NWF website began featuring a selection of Gaadt’s “Give A Fig” cards in January. Her creations reflect a deep knowledge of the natural world and its mysteries, even as they engage in playful possibilities.

In her four “Tree of Life” illustrations, for example, Gaadt captures the complex cyclical beauty of the earth and the community of nature gathering in each season around a tree that sustains and is sustained by, these creatures. Gaadt’s careful research and meticulous attention to light, movement, and detail are evident in her work. She started her small business to celebrate nature, create art from the heart, and give back. Gaadt started with cards in a few shops and gradually expanded her market as well as her product line, which now includes stationery, textiles, and home decor.

She loves the tactile experience of writing and sending personal cards, and the ways that cards connect people and bring joy and comfort and making by hand. It’s one of many reasons Gaadt became more interested in creating by hand than making everything on a computer. Being as environmentally conscientious as possible is key to the “Give A Fig” mission. Saying “to ‘Give A Fig’ means to care”, Gaadt ensures every card, notebook, tea towel, and pillow is produced in the US using high-quality FSC-certified recycled paper, soy-based inks, and 100% cotton fabrics. Products are beautifully presented without excess packaging, and her studio is powered by wind and solar. Cards are printed in a way that minimizes the amount of paper that’s cut off, for example, and in a necessary COVID concession, she packages cards in a sleeve but inserts four cards in each instead of just one. “It’s very important to me to stay true to my mission and continue to source really good quality materials that are also environmentally sustainable.” A percentage of profits is given back to organizations that support the arts and the environment.  Find “Give A Fig’s” special sets of cards for the National Wildlife Federation here. Gaadt’s full range of “Give A Fig” products is available online here.

The Delaware Contemporary (TDC) is planning events for several new shows on First Friday, February 5th including the group exhibitions “Appearances” and “Round About: Reconsidering the Object in Space”. For “Appearances”, TDC studio artist Lauren E. Peters asked a group of artists she admires, to create their interpretation of her 2016 piece “self-portrait (orange)”, using the painting itself for inspiration and/or the source photo. It’s an engaging show that includes local artists Katee Boyle, Dennis Beach, Rick Hildago and others. Using a variety of materials and styles, they disclose engrossing new takes on Peters’ self-portrait. Visit here for details. The group exhibition “Round About: Reconsidering the Object in Space” features Philly-based artists Hanna Vogel, Monroe Isenberg and Mike Benevenia. These three artists share an interest in organic materials. Their always intriguing work prompts viewers to reflect on our relationship to the natural and built world. See the virtual show here.

Also in Wilmington, Blue Streak Gallery’s new show “A Valentine’s Collage - Spreading Love and Kindness” is on view this month and features a mix of jewelry, sculpture, mixed media and more. Becki Mott-Lynn is the featured jeweler. Works in the main gallery are by Lele Galer, Rick Rothrock, Rick Hidalgo, Nancy Josephson, Stan Smokler, Beth Trepper and Carson Zullinger; perfectly romantic and sensuous for this love-themed show.

Other events to check out in February: Gross McCleaf Gallery is showing works by Maryland-based Nicole Parker in her first solo exhibition in Philadelphia. Titled “Thresholds”, her paintings are portals that allow a viewer to travel through conceptual thresholds into surrogate realities. “I love human spaces like houses, buildings and public transport, and am interested in the ‘footprints’ and evidence of ourselves that we always manage to leave.  Every place and object is a story or an artifact.” Also on view in February is “Trees, Seas and Objects” a major solo exhibition of new paintings by Martha Armstrong. In addition to landscapes, the current exhibition will feature a selection of still-life paintings, subject matter which Armstrong has long-explored but rarely displayed.

Whatever you do this week, support the arts!!