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Chestnut Hill Gallery Exhibits Works By New And Established Artists

By S. Mathur

Borelli's Chestnut Hill Gallery describes itself as small and unlikely, both of which tags give it the freedom to choose diverse exhibits, including established, unconventional and new artists. Owner Joe Borelli had always wanted to open his own gallery and a space became available in Philadelphia's Chestnut Hill district, he was ready for the opportunity.

"I was working for a prestigious gallery in Chestnut Hill called the Hahn Gallery, and the owner Roz thought it was time for her to retire," Borelli said. "Without the Hahn Gallery, there wasn't really a space in Chestnut Hill to promote local artists and I wanted to continue the legacy. I decided to open my own gallery with the idea that I had always been interested in owning my own business."

The gallery opened in the tree-lined shopping district in 1995. Exhibits are diverse and include works by established and new artists, such as a recent exhibit of work by Latino artists titled Gotas Hacen Mares/ Raindrops Make Oceans. Artwork in various mediums is included, such as oils, watercolors, acrylics, multi- media and silver-gel photographs. There are landscapes, still life, figures, abstracts and sculpture.

"We find artists in a few ways," Borelli said. "Some of the artists in our gallery currently are carryovers from the Hahn Gallery, dedicated painters and sculptors that are consistently producing excellent work that should be continued to highlight within the community. As for new artists, I always look over the submissions we receive and choose on a few principles."

Borelli chooses artists who have a body of work that displays a commitment and whose art fits in with the existing exhibits. It also has to be the kind of art that the community wants to see and that is likely to sell, he adds. These criteria are exemplified in the the current exhibition, "Reality is Abstract" by David Cox.

"The paintings are beautiful, mostly large scale renderings of cloudscapes and seascapes," Borelli said. "Cox is a philosopher and painter, and goes into the intricacies of the space clouds inhabit, becoming and disappearing. It's something really new and fresh for Chestnut Hill Gallery and we are very excited about it!"

The gallery exhibits recent works by four artists at a time, for two months. Opening nights are an occasion for guests to mingle with the artists and other art lovers as well as viewing new work.

Borelli and the gallery have established long term partnerships with well known artists. These include Chuck Connelly who fills the unconventional slot with ease, American realist painter Neal Hughes, PAFA legend Phil Cohn and Chestnut Hill favorites Paul Rickert and John Lear. It also exhibits works by the local urban folk artist Robert Arnosky, landscape painters Sandra Hoffman and Gail Bessette, watercolorist Susannah Hart Thomer, primal surrealist Alfred Ortega and latin folk artist Marta Sanchez.The gallery has a friendly and welcoming feel to it for visitors, with none of the sterile white gallery walls seen in New York City these days. The art at Borelli's Chestnut Hill Gallery is for people to enjoy, and this is reflected in the gallery space.

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