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Nature Calls, Artists Answer

Del Ray's Eclectic Nature offers first art show in garden center.

It's one of the most recognizable and striking sights in Del Ray: the large mural that covers an exterior wall, looming over the garden center at the Eclectic Nature shop on Mount Vernon Avenue.

Marie C. Dyer, the artist who created that piece, will join five other artists for the first Eclectic Nature Art Show, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 16 and Sunday, Sept. 17. Show hours will be 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday, and the gift center is located at 1503 Mount Vernon Ave.

"We hope to make this an annual event," said Christy Beal, Eclectic Nature owner, in an announcement for the show. "These artists are all evocative of the kind of aesthetic that Alexandria, and particularly Del Ray, represent."

Patti North-Rudin, an Alexandria artist and jewelry designer, worked with Beal in developing the show, which spotlights some artists whose work is available in the gift center. "Christy Beal is very conscious of carrying the work of artists — both national and local — featuring handmade works of art," she said.

North-Rudin, who works with fused glass, beads, sterling silver and gold to create her pieces, has had her art showcased at Eclectic Nature, St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub and A Show of Hands, as well as the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum Gift Shop in Washington, D.C. She also serves as Vice Chair of the Alexandria Commission for the Arts and is married to Alexandria’s Official Town Crier, Bill North-Rudin.

Dyer, who lives in Punta Gorda, Fla., is a self-taught artist whose medium is described as "acrylic on anything." As with her mural, Dyer's been known to paint everything from clothing to furniture to automobiles.

Her sister, Elizabeth Whelton, will also appear at the Eclectic Nature show. Whelton is a New Hampshire artist whose work includes watercolor landscapes to abstracts with oils on canvas and paper.

The other two artists at the show are Jennifer and Stephen Willis, a married pair of artists who collaborate together and live in Alexandria. They work with glass, sometimes recreating famous works originally done on canvas through mosaics on antique windows.

In addition to showing new pieces at the event, the artists will participate in an ongoing project during the two-day exhibit — helping to create new murals around the Eclectic Nature garden center, in the spirit of Dyer's original work.

NORTH-RUDIN SAID the Eclectic Nature show offers an opportunity for artists to show their work in a relaxed setting — discussing their work with a clientele that may not necessarily head to a gallery.

"It's very different. Holding an art show at a garden center/gift shop is different — it's less intimidating, more approachable," she said. "Nothing against galleries, but it's just something with a little bit of a twist on tradition...which is sort of what Del Ray is about."