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12:19 AM Mon, Sept. 24th

Fourth Friday features artistic pleasures and treasures

Ananda DiBenedetto works on a watercolor in her Prescott studio. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)

Ananda DiBenedetto works on a watercolor in her Prescott studio. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)

Every month at the Fourth Friday Art Walk, more than 18 of Prescott's art galleries stay open late for visitors and residents to enjoy artwork by and receptions for featured artists. On Friday, July 24, the galleries are staying open and holding receptions for, among others, Ananda Di Benedetto at Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery, Pete and Pam Conner at 'Tis Art Gallery, and Lana Saint Michel at Van Gogh's Ear.

Di Benedetto's exhibit is called "Watercolor Rainbow." Her work explores expressions of beauty inspired by nature and animals and that reflect on dreams and visions. Di Benedetto said this is her very first show and her message is one of love and joy.

"I love nature, I feel at home in nature," she said, mentioning that her works are a "conversation with animals and nature."

Di Benedetto has had a love of drawing all her life, but she wanted to expand on it and went to classes as a young mother. She talked of her watercolor teacher, Cathy Quiel, who taught her at City College of Santa Barbara, California. Di Benedetto said Quiel taught her classes with love and joy, but also with technical demonstrations and explanations. These lessons stay actively present in Di Benedetto's mind while she is painting.

As to why she feels at home in nature, Di Benedetto said these subjects are very appealing, and she can go out into nature, take photos with a camera or hold them in her mind, then come home and paint "with the color of a palette of love."

Di Benedetto said she loves passing on her message of love, and that drawing from her mind to her heart is very easy for her.

Featured at Van Gogh's Ear is Saint Michel, who also said this is the first time she's been featured in one of the Fourth Friday Art Walks. She works in wearable fiber art and said it's something she's done for many years. However, she said when it comes to making her artwork, she doesn't have any patterns nor does she check out fashions in shops or malls. Rather, she goes with the materials she has, one step at a time, piecing together what looks interesting.

Saint Michel said she loves it when someone comes along, finds a piece she made and has had for a couple years and believes it's perfect for them.

"I always tell them I made it for you," she said, noting that with that person coming along, "it was made for a reason."

At 'Tis Art Gallery the Conners are showing their work in the Mezzanine Gallery. Pete works in photography and Pam creates beaded jewelry.

Pam said she started making jewelry because she's always been detail oriented and was introduced to the art of making it from a childhood friend.

"I tried a lot of different types of jewelry making... but I gravitated to bead weaving," she said. "This is all done with a needle and a thread essentially, and it's built into all these intricate patterns."

Making the jewelry, Pam said, is therapeutic and "Zen like," because of how long a piece can take. Depending on the width, it can take her about 45 minutes to an hour per inch, she said. But she loves it because "it keeps my brain active and my hands agile."

Pete's photography shows his fascination with graphical and visual works. He said he got involved with art in his teens, gravitating to photography in his 20s. Much of his photography consists of urban and rural landscapes, but he said he also enjoys photographing images of subjects that require the viewer to look at them intently.

"I like visual things you have to stare at for a while to try to understand what you're looking at," he said.

- by Jason Wheeler. Follow him on Twitter @PrescottWheels. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2037, or at 928-642-5277.