‘Bigger is Better, A Show of Firsts’ coming to Robbin Gallery

An original watercolor painting by CJ Longaeker. (Submitted photo)

Sibling duo will showcase artwork together for the first time

By LACI GAGLIANO
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A brother and sister will team up for Robbin Gallery’s upcoming exhibit Sept. 7-23, called “Bigger is Better, A Show of Firsts,” featuring the artwork of siblings CJ Longaeker and Dave Ehret.

Longaeker will showcase her large-format contemporary watercolor paintings, while Ehret will present his artwork to the public for the first time ever, including photography, airbrush and mixed media dimensional work. Longaeker, who is a marketing professional by day, is a veteran of the arts community and a member of Robbin Gallery for nearly two decades. Ehret, who makes a living as a professional graphics artist creating custom airbrush artwork for automobiles, boats and other vehicles, had reserved his talent for family and friends.

An original airbrush painting by David Ehret. (Submitted photo)

Longaeker spoke about the exhibit, including some background on her and her brother’s passion for artistic expression.

“I have been a longtime member of Robbin Gallery and I have had a show before. This is (Ehret’s) first public exhibition,” she explained.

She said that she took up watercolor painting as an adult and has been painting for nearly 20 years, initially inspired by a do-it-yourself spirit.

“I needed something to hang on my dining room wall,” she laughed. That decorating urge quickly took off into a full-scale hobby. She took lessons through several programs, including community education and lessons with people around town, finally landing at the Robbin Gallery, where she found a permanent community.

“Robbin Gallery is so welcoming and so supportive of local artists. It’s just a very good place to start as far as showing your work,” she said.

She started out painting a lot of natural scenery and landscapes.

“I took trips to the North Shore and painted. I just played with it for many years and developed my style,” she said. “It became a necessary hobby for me, being in a stressful position. I use it as my creative release.”

Since then, her style has evolved significantly.

“I used to do flowers and waterfalls and landscapes, but I have evolved into more contemporary abstract art,” she said. “The show is all about the new stuff I’ve been doing, and an introduction into David’s work.”

Siblings David Ehret and CJ Longaeker will display their works of art at Robbin Gallery during an exhibit throughout September titled “Bigger is Better – A Show of Firsts.” (Submitted photo)

She said Ehret, from whom she is three years apart in age, has been an artist since he was young.

“He was the third grader sitting at the kitchen table drawing cartoons, and people and pets,” she said. “He’s an accomplished graphic designer. He does graphic production as his profession, so he’s had those outlets for art in the past. Now he’s breaking loose and doing other things for art.”

Longaeker described Ehret as technical-minded when it comes to his art, while she described her own work as “very color content oriented” and “emotional,” with evocative, rich colors, strokes and textures sweeping across her canvas. In contrast, his work incorporates the natural world, portraits and realism, with animals and feminine figures being prominently featured.

“David is more detail oriented with a very strong perspective on the use of light. It’s a very interesting combo of our two styles. It’s both sides of the pendulum,” she said.

She said the two have wanted to do a show together for years. They decided to launch their first show in Robbinsdale and see where it goes, she explained.

Both artists will feature large format pieces, which Longaeker described as more comfortable to work with.

“It just felt natural. It’s something that just makes me happy,” she said of her move toward large canvasses.

“Bigger is Better, A Show of Firsts” will open to the public Thursday, Sept. 7 during normal gallery hours.

An opening reception at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, will feature original jazz music from Randy Crooms. An

“It’s a Wrap!” party from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sep. 21 will precede the show’s closure on Saturday, Sept. 23.

Robbin Gallery is open to the public from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 1-5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The gallery is located at 4915 42nd Ave., Robbinsdale.