By Susan Morrow Potje, Show Director, Celebration of Fine Art
The heart has always been the universal sign of love. Whether a simple crayon drawing, a complex painting or beautiful sculpture, everyone connects a heart with feelings of love and acceptance.
February may be the month of love, but Valentine’s Day aside, hearts are always in style in the eyes of collectors and artists. At the Celebration of Fine Art in Scottsdale there are several painters known for their inspired heart artwork through paintings. Although hearts are not the only subject matter, they are a common theme.
Penny Benjamin Peterson feels a “great sense of connection” when people purchase one of her heart paintings. “Each connection is unique and something to celebrate,” she said.
Benjamin Peterson has created numerous heart pieces in various sizes, shapes and colors in collections that hang on walls around the world. Her largest heart painting was a six-by four-foot piece that adorns the entryway of one of her collector’s homes. One of her latest heart paintings was recently purchased by a loyal collector who selected it as a gift for his daughter’s upcoming birthday.
“When I saw this painting it made me think of the love I have for my three children,” said Frank Racioppo. “The large heart represents my love for them and three small hearts represent my three children. I guess I am a little sentimental when it comes to my family.”
Tanner Lawley, an artist from Texas who also currently shows at the Celebration of Fine Art, creates and shares his heart paintings as a way of spreading the feeling of love.
“It is impossible for someone to look at a heart painting and not feel the love in that moment,” he said. “I’m not sure what will happen with them the rest of the day, but I know in that moment they feel love. I believe that the emotion of love is the strongest force known in the universe.”
This force was present when a longtime collector of the Celebration of Fine Art recently set eyes on one of Lawley’s heart pieces. Doris had lost her husband and best friend, Bernie, not too long before. For years the couple visited the Celebration together – holding hands and beaming with love as they walked through the show visiting with artists and building their collection together. Although they were advanced in age, they looked like teenagers in love.
After he passed, it was undoubtedly difficult for Doris to come back to a place that had been such an integral part of their life together, but she did this year, only this time she was accompanied by her daughter. As the two of them wandered through the show they came across the studio where Lawley was at work on his vibrant heart pieces.
The connection was instant. Both mother and daughter fell in love with the inspirational hearts in Lawley’s studio. They talked about how much Bernie would have loved these hearts.
While Doris was visiting with another artist, her daughter secretly went back to Lawley’s studio and told him the story of Bernie’s and her mother’s love for each other. Within moments they had a plan.
Lawley created a special piece for Doris called “Bernie’s Love” and wrote a personalized note on the back that read: “To Doris, Love is infinite and always present. I know Bernie is smiling down at you right now and his love for you is over-flowingly abundant. With love, Tanner Lawley.” Doris will receive this on Valentine’s Day.
While the art of the heart is particularly fitting this time of year, these pieces speak to people in very individual ways – whether its love, passion, remembrance or joy, they resonate no matter the time of year.
This year’s Celebration of Fine Art runs daily, now through March 24, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.