Osher Lifelong Learning Institute art showcased in Lenox

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LENOX — Please, no jokes. Arline Shalan has heard all the wise cracks about practicing and teaching basket weaving for years.

The art form is no laughing matter to the transplanted New Jerseyite, requiring patience and skill to weave various fibrous materials into a functional, decorative container.

But the Pittsfield woman took her artistic career in a different direction several years ago when she switched art media.

"I like the feel of clay, you can mold it. It becomes part of you," she said

Shalan's latest clay creation titled "Jacaranda," a smoke-fired, unglazed sculpture with twigs from the tropical Jacaranda tree, was one of more than 50 visual art pieces on display during this weekend's 8th Annual OLLI Art Show. A member Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College, Shalan and 29 other OLLI participants showcased their best paintings, photographs and sculpture on Saturday and Sunday at Lenox Town Hall.

OLLI offers a variety of course from politics, science and history to creative writing, art and music.

The art show is open exclusively to OLLI members, showcasing the hidden talent in the Berkshires, according to organizers.

'We are introducing OLLI to the community, putting a public face on what we do," said ChellySterman. The Stockbridge resident along with Judy Cromwell, Ro and Tom Koelle and Sandi Rubin oversaw the show that expanded its offerings.

This year the educational group also extend an invitation to fiber artists, wood workers, glass artists and potters.

The highlight of the two-day exhibit was the reception and silent auction on Saturday that featured more than 100 items up for grabs to the highest bidder. Organizers say most items went for more than the 50 percent value of the donations, especially "Trump, The Game," a 1989 board game by the business tycoon before he became the country's 45th president.

"My husband (Randy) donated the Trump game that was a big hit with the people — there was a small bidding war for it," said Mara Winn, unsure of the winning bid amount.

An OLLI member herself since 1998, Winn joined for the music and art and has performed with Berkshire Choral International.

"There is always more to learn in life," she said. "This summer I sang [Gustav Mahler's] 'Symphony #8' known as the 'Symphony of a Thousand."

Reach staff writer Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233


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