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THE HOUR

Monday, August 18, 2008

Read at The Hour Online

Web Site Boosts Artists' Exposure

By STEVE KOBAK

Norwalker Gillian Marshall has photographed people, places and things in locales throughout Southeast Asia, and she wants Fairfield County residents to experience the exotic scenery vicariously through her art.

"I love the culture, the color, the passion, the diversity of these countries and kingdoms," said Marshall. "I shoot faces and places and landscapes and elephants and tigers. It gives me the unique opportunity of giving people over here a sense of these faraway places."

Area Artists (www.areaartists.com), a new Web site for Fairfield County-based artists, is helping artists like Marshall gain the exposure they desire.

"I love my images," she said. "The people that see my images love them, and I would just love to see them out there on a broader scale."

The Web site, which launched one year ago, currently has the portfolios and biographies of 10 artists from the area. Area Artists features a variety of work-- from Marshall's snapshot of a mother and child elephant bonding in the desert to Stamford resident Benice Horowitz's acrylic landscape paintings.

Artists are selected for the Web site by a rotating jury of local artists, art critics, gallery owners and other persons in the community, said artist and Web site operator Peg Benison.

"It's more restrictive, in a way, because it's juried," she said. "We wanted to make sure we had only top-quality artists."

Though all the artists currently featured on the site are female, it is not exclusively geared towards the female gender, according to Benison.

"We currently have a couple of men who are in the process," she said. "Their work is with the jury."

Benison came up with the idea for her Web site while designing sites for local artists and arts organizations.

"I realized the more I did it for individual artists as well as arts societies, that there had to be a better way to pull this together so that artists could get their information out and get people to their Web sites," she said.

Benison believes her Web site works to whet the appetites of local art lovers, who, in turn, invest financially or intellectually in the artwork.

"Artwork doesn't work like a pair of shoes," she said. "People really want to see the painting in person to experience it."

Gallery owners have offered shows to artists after seeing work on Area Artists and residents have even commissioned pieces from some of the artists.

"We've been contacted by quite a few people looking for artists," "The beauty of the Web site is that people can contact the artists directly."

Marshall said it is too early to tell if the Web site has had a successful impact on her career yet but she is confident that it will.

"From my mouth to God's ears, I would love to be published, not for fame and fortune," she said. "Through a reputable book publisher, I would love to see my work published just to share with the world.

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