Claudia McDermott’s artistic abilities were likely influenced by her portrait artist father, concert pianist mother, and uncles who were painters and sculptors, but she went on to develop her own artistic style in oils, watercolors and pen and ink that will be on display at Westmoreland County Museum’s February Art and Wine event. Stop in at the museum for the opening artist’s reception, Wednesday, Feb. 12 from 5 to 7 p.m., and visit the Inn at Montross where some pieces will also be on display. The exhibit will continue through March 8.
“I was always around art, and my mother, Eleanor Grillo Proto, made sure my sister and I visited the art museums in New York City. I remember I was about 13 when I started being more serious about it,” McDermott, who grew up in the Bronx, recalled. In fact, she still has a few pieces from those early years.
McDermott describes her art as allegorical, and designs her own compositions for these one-picture stories. To help in that process, she travels with a camera, taking “a gazillion photos of things I like. Then I use them to compose what just strikes me as right. It’s like I want to get you this gift, but no one has made one like it yet, so I have to search around for the right components.”
A very local example is a painting she titled “Coming Home,” which depicts Robert E. Lee leading his horse back to the present-day Stratford Hall. The idea came to her after hearing the story about Lee, as a child leaving Stratford in 1811, telling the angels carved into one of the fireplaces at the mansion, that he would be back.