Area artists form Gallery Group Ten in Kent

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Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of articles focusing on each of the artists at Gallery Group Ten.

Ten accomplished local artists have recently formed a co-op called Gallery Group Ten located at 138 East Main Street in Kent.

One of the artists is Jance Lentz of Sugarbush Knolls. Lentz is a native of Willoughby, Ohio and received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in art from Kent State University. Lentz settled here to raise her three sons. "I love a college town. We have access to music and lectures and the cultural diversity one finds in Kent adds greatly to its charm."

Lentz's desire for the new co-op is for it to be an inclusive gallery.

"I want to bring people in from everywhere. I want students coming into the gallery from their art, music and poetry classes. The art on display is first rate. It's all created by professional, working artists and its all for sale." Lentz envisions demonstrations and informative talks from the artists, one-man shows from each of the co-op partners, as well as giving other artists that opportunity. Lentz, a classical music lover, also would like to add string quartet evenings.

Like a resilient pony on a carousel, Lentz has ridden through ups and downs in her life. But, she has charted her own course and persevered through each challenge with one goal in mind. As she tells young people interested in the arts, "work your head off, focus on your vision and go for it. You have to work at making art. Even if you do have some talent, creating something worthwhile is 90 percent work and, of course, commitment."

Lentz recalls that, even as a young child, she loved drawing--mostly horses. She was raised by her mother and aunt to have an appreciation of art and music. She and her sisters were taken to art museums and given lessons on musical instruments, starting piano at 5.

"Somehow, when I would visit these museums and look at these wonderful paintings, I don't know where it came from, but I just knew I could paint. My fingers would actually start to curl. I just knew I could do that. I could make those lines. I could make those contrasts."

Lentz's style is neo impressionism. "I react very strongly to beauty in nature and want to reinterpret it, particularly the landscape. There's something about being outdoors in nature or in a garden that absolutely fills me with joy. I've tried to intellectualize it, but it's a very spiritual thing. I read constantly. I love poetry and music. I think we all, as humans, are nourished by gardens. Gardens have always been part of the human endeavor. We use them to feed ourselves, but they also feed our souls and maybe there's even a little bit of wishing to return to the original Garden of Eden in each of us."

Lentz's beautiful, sunlit home studio features an expansive bookshelf crammed with art books of every sort. She said she enjoys reading about and studying the art of many artists. She has explored other mediums such as watercolor and styles such as portraiture and abstract expressionism, but always finds herself coming back to impressionism. Her paintings are filled with life, light, color and movement. "I start each painting at a real place with a specific drawing. As I paint, I begin to take this realistic image apart and disassemble it, reducing it into lights and shadows. I create contrast and build up a lively, thick surface of paint. I think the foundation of a good piece of art is the knowledge of good drawing, good structure and good perspective. I so like to have my paintings welcome somebody in. Please come in here. Here's an open gate. Here's a path. Walk through this. I do a lot of plein air painting, which is outside on location. I get lost in my painting. It doesn't bother me if people come up to watch me or talk to me. I'll stop and talk with them."

Lentz laughs and says, "I'll never live long enough to do all the paintings I want to do." She particularly likes painting the landscape in France and Italy. Lentz also loves riding her horse, playing piano, studying violin, and gardening and cooking gourmet meals for her husband, Tom Hatch, friends, children and grandchildren.

Lentz's credits and honors are extensive. Her paintings are in collections throughout this country, Japan, Australia, Israel and Europe. Her paintings have hung in galleries in Cleveland, Washington, Columbus, Paris and New York and she has been featured in thirty one-woman shows.

For further information about Lentz and other featured artists at Gallery Group Ten, please visit www.grouptengallery.com or call 330-678-7890.

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