“March Madness” has arrived at the Artists’ Undertaking gallery in Occoquan.
The exhibit, which runs through April 6, features the paintings and drawings of Roger Frey of Woodbridge and the work of fused glass artists David and Dale Barnes of Sterling.
Despite its name, the exhibit is not about basketball.
“It’s artistic madness,” David Barnes said. “This month we [decided to] just kind of go wild — not have a specific theme, but just mix it up, be a little crazy and anxious for spring to get here.”
Frey, Barnes and Barnes’s wife Dale are among a cooperative of artists who are partners in the Artists’ Undertaking, a gallery at 309 Mill St., alongside the Occoquan River.
Frey, 69, works in a variety of styles. His exhibit features figurative etchings, landscapes, a portrait of Pope John Paul II and a series of modernist acrylic paintings depicting the Roman goddess Diana.
A member of Artists’ Undertaking for about eight years, Frey said that he alternates between painting and drawing, and that he is now focusing mostly on acrylic painting.
“When you work in black and white, like I did with the etchings, it gets very boring,” he said.
“I got tired of all that. I started painting some drawings that I have in my sketch book, and it turned out to be a great thing for me,” Frey said. “I started using color again. I felt like I was painting rainbows. It was a lot of fun. That was my Diana series.”
David Barnes said that he and Dale, who focuses mostly on jewelry design, have been members of the cooperative for about 25 years.
To create his fused glass works, Barnes starts with separate pieces of glass that he cuts up, layers and fits into a design, he said. He heats the pieces at high temperatures in a glass kiln until they meld together, then repeats the process through multiple firings. In the final firing, he places the flat piece of glass on top of a mold to make it three-dimensional.
Barnes said he likes mixing free-formed, flowing elements with straight-edged components “to get some contrast and interaction going there.”
Nature and wildlife photographer Gerry Gantt, another partner in the cooperative, said the gallery’s name was inspired by its building, which was formerly occupied by an undertaker. The undertaker was flooded out by Hurricane Agnes in 1972, and a group of artists formed the cooperative and opened the gallery five years later, he said.
Over the years, the partners have changed as new artists joined and others dropped out, Gantt said, adding that none of the original partners remain. Although the cooperative usually has 17 partners, it currently has two vacancies, he said.
The group includes artists who work in two-dimensional media, such as painters and photographers, and those who work in three-dimensional media, Gantt said.
The three-dimensional artists include an eggshell carver and people who work with glass, pottery, wood, copper and jewelry.
Gantt said the exhibits change each month, usually featuring the work of one 3-D and one 2-D artist from the cooperative. Group shows in May and December display the work of all the artists, he said.
Frey said he enjoys being part of the creative community of Artists’ Undertaking.
“You develop friendships, and you trust other people’s opinions,” he said. “I work alone, and it’s nice to have people comment on your pieces.”
Barnes is a freelance writer.
The public will be able to meet the artists featured in the “March Madness” exhibit at a reception Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the gallery. Artists’ Undertaking is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.