Art House “is a very, very, very fine house with two cats in the yard…”
At the risk of dating myself, the two cats are “hep” as in “way cool” (‘60s beatnik lingo), and the house nestled in the Fairfield Valley is full of art from floor to ceiling. June may be the perfect month for road trips. In fact, anytime through the fall works well to venture to the McCullough “House of Art.”
Michael McCullough and wife, Sharon Pierce McCullough, have made art their life, and it is evident in the shrine they have built to it throughout their eclectic dwelling. Both artists work in diverse media and their tastes, although uniquely different, complement each other as represented in their approaches and presentations. As with other married couples, they complete a yin and yang with ample latitude for limitless imagination coming together to create a holistic habitat rich and deeply textured. Both deal in abstract expressionistic paintings, with Sharon adding statuary as well as geometric equations to the mix. Schooled in the self-taught realm of “experience being the best teacher,” the couple constantly pushes their art to dramatic heights, embracing challenges as opportunities in developing new works.
Michael started his career as a furniture maker, evolving into photography, printmaking and painting. All mediums are based in large part to his “connection and exploration with the world.”
“The work is intended to evoke an emotion or thought which might not necessarily be my own,” the artist shared.
Michael’s outsized abstract paintings are often depicted on stretched canvases that permeate outdoor installations. He engages with the world through assemblage, drawing, photography and painting. He leans into “personal interactions linking a place or book to the process involved in creating, often informed by the movement of layers of paint.” They bring about remembrance and resolution. Michael’s work has been juried into national exhibitions that include the Washington County Museum of Art in Maryland and the State Museum of PA in Harrisburg.
Sharon’s journey started out as a “visual artist engaging in a multi-disciplinary practice that encompasses painting and sculpture,” she said. Her ever-expanding universe now eclipses four decades of creating her own orbit of art.
With elements of cement, plaster, cardboard and found metal objects, her statues take on a personality all their own. Standing up to 5 feet tall, they often appear larger than life. Colorfully abstract in their construct, the paintings she creates are lyrical and narrative, following the muse of the artist, which leads her to expand a theme that becomes serialized. In their rendering, they offer a before, now and after, allowing the viewer a complete story by the end. She holds a deep appreciation for negative and positive space, which influences the process of creating, as well as providing color and form.
Geometric configurations play a repeating role in Sharon’s art, offering dimensional problem-solving resulting in a different algorithm. Well known and shown, she is most proud of a statue on exhibit at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. The juried exhibition features work created by the Washington Sculptors Group, of which she is a member. In addition, McCullough took first place in the “Sculpture” category in 2015 at “Art of the State” at the PA State Museum. Her body of work has included stops nationally and internationally 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 and then curated to perfection by the couple. Pulling up to the property in Cashtown, one sees a stage already set with statues dotting the landscape, canvases floating off the line, and acreage relegated to massive rustic wheels connecting the present to the past. Part museum, part fantasy theme park, the property takes visitors through time in viewing folk art that pays homage to historical tradition, offering treasure upon treasure that leads from one vignette to the next, room by room. When viewed as a whole, the effect may feel like Alice in Wonderland going down the rabbit hole. But, when taken in small doses, the art is educationally sound and, like Graham Nash wrote, “the windows are illuminated by the evening sunshine through them.”
Art House exists in large part for the art enthusiast who embraces creativity and is willing to take a drive for an adventure to a magical land of imagination and meaning, a world of enchantment full of treasures, jewels and “fiery gems for you, only for you.”
Art House “is a very, very, very fine house.” The “cats” await.
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