Of all the apostles, Matthew, patron saint of tax collectors and accountants, likely would be the first to give Art Show: Bedford 2022 his blessing. In just the last three years, the annual exhibit at the Bedford church that bears his name raised over $100,00 for local charities. Even holy men like St. Matthew knew good works need to be financed. 

“Art Show: Bedford is St. Matthew’s largest annual outreach project,” said Tara Deeks, who chairs the event this year. “None of the proceeds go to the church itself. Every single dollar helps neighbors we have long personal connections with.” Organizations receiving support include A-Home, Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester, Endeavor Therapeutic Horsemanship, Hospice Care in Westchester, Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry, and Neighbors Link. “Last year the donation we gave to MKIFP allowed them to buy extra freezer space,” noted Ms. Deeks. “This was crucial during COVID so they could store the additional food needed to meet the increasing demand.”

After COVID-19 forced the 2021 edition of Art Show: Bedford to go virtual, it is returning this year to its traditional in-person format. Beginning today, Friday, Jan. 21, at St. Matthew’s Fellowship Hall, the program resumes its role as the most eagerly awaited Bedford event of the winter.

“I think perhaps we are a light in our community, “Ms. Deeks mused. “Art Show takes place each year during the last two weeks of January. The warmth of our welcome, the chance to engage with artists and the roaring fireplace in Fellowship Hall offers a wonderful diversion on a cold, damp, winter weekend.”

Now in its 49th year, Art Show: Bedford will showcase 35 artists and their paintings, photographs, sculpture, ceramics and jewelry. The works can be viewed and bid on at the show or on the website artshowbedford.org. While, sadly, this year organizers had to cancel the very popular Preview Party that traditionally kicks off the show in Fellowship Hall, once again there’s more than enough exceptional art to revel in.

“The caliber of artists participating has always been outstanding,” said Christopher Brescia, owner of CB Art Gallery in Katonah, three-time co-curator of Art Show: Bedford, and this year’s exhibition advisor. Many of the artists are local, including decoupage artist Audrey Zinman, painters Caroline Walker and Chrissanth Greene-Gross, and sculptor Paul Briggs, former pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Bedford Hills. 

“The real beauty of Art Show is that you have everything from contemporary to classical and yet the styles all speak to each other effortlessly,” noted Mr. Brescia, a harmony he credits to the curators and artists’ unique collaboration. “I can honestly say I’ve never known a more dedicated and hardworking group of people than the ladies of St. Matthew’s,” he added.

Bedford-based artist, Carol Bouyoucos, who has been affiliated with Art Show: Bedford in varying capacities for about 25 years, created a digital photomontage, “Renewal,” that serves as the signature image of this year’s program. It is featured on the Art Show: Bedford website and all promotional material. Ms. Bouyoucos is, in fact, having a banner year — and it’s only January. In addition to Art Show: Bedford, she is currently exhibiting in the Katonah Museum Artists’ Association online show, Madelyn Jordon Fine Art group show, and gallery Art Fluent, “Figures; an Online Exhibition.”

“As we’re coming out of this dark time, I wanted to create something that represented hope and the earth,” said Ms. Bouyoucos, commenting on the show’s signature image, which she said, “needed to be bright and green and happy.” The artist’s montage technique employed vintage Dutch botanical prints from the 1700s, layering in her own photographs of Westchester landscapes, mixing them into her iPhone’s  Image Blender app and then manipulating the proportions and photoshopping the colors. “My favorite part is watching the image transform itself,” she noted. 

On Friday prior to the exhibition’s opening, judges for this year’s Art Show awarded prizes in a number of categories. The judges were Katonah Museum of Art curator, Emily Handlin, Aldrich Museum Executive Director Cybele Maylone, and Kimberly Henrikson, executive director at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking. Winners included Robert Olsson (best in Show); Jane Cooper (best painting); Shelley Dell (best work on paper); Mr. Briggs (best three-dimensional work); and Ms. Bouyoucos (best photography).

To say that the Church’s commitment to the show remains exceptional after a half-century is an understatement. This year, the Rev. John Zahl, the ever-engaged and engaging St. Matthew’s rector, is auctioning off his famous homemade fresh fruit trifle dessert. It serves 12 to 15, and the opening bid is $50. Other desirable auction items include several paintings from exhibiting artists, a Block Island weeklong getaway for eight people, a necklace and matching earrings from Bijou Fine Jewelry of Katonah, and a family ride at Endeavor Therapeutic Horsemanship facility in Bedford Corners. 

When Ms. Deeks joined the historic church, (established in 1680), she automatically became part of the Women of St. Matthew’s, the long and storied matriarchal line of community-minded parishioners who have been an essential resource for the community. Originally founded as a sewing group to provide clothing for Civil War soldiers, the organization evolved into an unstoppable year-round charitable force in the Bedford area. The Women of St. Matthew’s launched the Art Show in 1973.

“My skill set lies mostly in organizing the committee of talented ladies who are passionate about serving the local community,” remarked Ms. Deeks. “We always try to bring some grace into what we do, whether liaising with artists, vendors or the local charities. We want everyone involved to feel joyful.”

Like the Art Show founders, Ms. Deeks sees creative talent as a blessing and therefore considers it a privilege to give a platform to local artists to share their work. “Rather like listening to beautiful music, having fabulous artwork in one’s house or office is good for the soul,” she said. 

Mr. Brescia agreed. “Art is a gift,” he said, “a gift of talent to humanity.”

Art and auction items are available to view at the show and on the show’s website at artshowbedford.org. Bids can be placed in person or by email to info@artshowbedford.org.

Art Show: Bedford 2022 hours are Friday through Sunday, Jan. 21 to 23, and Jan. 28 to 30, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. 

St. Matthew’s Church Fellowship Hall is located 382 Cantitoe St., Bedford. 

Joyce Corrigan, a features contributor, has held senior positions in magazine publishing including co-editor at ELLE, New York correspondent for Conde Nast Traveller, deputy editor at the Sunday Times Magazine UK and editor-at-large at Marie Claire.

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