Barbara Strawser loves her home, her vegetable and flower gardens, farms, chickens, apple trees, and tulips. Cooking, reading, and decorating furniture are among her favorite things. But painting, she claims, is all she ever wanted to do—as a child and also now, well into adulthood.
An exhibit of her work, free and open to the public, sponsored by Herb Real Estate, entitled “My World: The Folk Art of Barbara Strawser, opened Friday, Oct. 18 and will run until Dec. 1 at Studio B Fine Art Gallery, 39A East Philadelphia Avenue, Boyertown,
Light refreshments, including some of Strawser’s culinary appetizers will be served. The Sunflower Café Food Truck is scheduled to offer dining options after 7:00 p.m. outside the studio.
Strawser has been painting since childhood, and her paintings can be found in collections and galleries around the world. She lives in historic Schaefferstown, PA, in a Victorian-era house surrounded by the lush and prolific vegetable and flower gardens and trees that she loves and paints.
Strawser explains, “In my younger years, I would go for walks to find a quiet spot to sit and paint, usually a sunny hillside somewhere. Now, I just wander in my own backyard and paint what I see. Exploring my world in preparation to paint is a refreshing mini vacation for me. ”
Strawser’s gift of creating folk art is “in the genes.” She is a self-taught, third generation Pennsylvania German folk artist. Her work and that of her family is often described as “primitive,” “native,” or “tramp art” and depicts everyday living as experienced her surroundings--rural Lancaster, Lebanon, and Berks Counties, Pennsylvania.
She recalls Sunday drives as a child in her father’s green Studebaker when she could barely see over the windows of the car. From that vantage point, she saw tall grasses and the rich burnt sienna color of the earth that today remains a favorite color in her palette.
The changing seasons are reflected in her work for Boyertown’s Bear Fever community art project. Strawser’s first bear, sponsored by Herb Real Estate, is filled with bright yellow black-eyed Susans and the spring green hues of spring and early summer. Her second bear features orange pumpkins, purple grapes, sunflowers, and wispy grasses of autumn. Her third bear features ice skaters and icier colors.
Strawser’s great-aunt Hattie Klapp Brunner (1889-1982), referred to as the Pennsylvania German Grandma Moses, inspired Strawser’s own work. Strawser recalls, “Her work was very colorful, and I thought her paintings were the most beautiful things I’d ever seen.” She was further encouraged to exhibit her work following an exhibition at Kutztown Univeristy, PA, in the late 1970’s in which five of her paintings were included.
Contact Strawser for an appointment at 717-949-2374 and on the web at www.strawserart.com/barbara. The exhibit at Studio B runs until Dec. 1; hours are from 5 to 8 p.m. “Friend” Studio B on Facebook for dates of discussions with Barbara during her exhibit.
From Studio B, Boyertown.