July 26, 2014

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Western Reserve Land Conservancy staff exhibits own art for land awareness

Women look at a piece of art on display at the Western Reserve Land Conservancy in Moreland Hills. PHOTO PROVIDED

Women look at a piece of art on display at the Western Reserve Land Conservancy in Moreland Hills. PHOTO PROVIDED

MORELAND HILLS — Imagine putting on an art exhibit with your co-workers.

Keep imagining.

Now, stop laughing.

Unless you work in an artistic field, the idea of a staff art exhibit may seem a little … unnatural.

But the Western Reserve Land Conservancy pulled it off and discovered an artistic community within its own ranks — for example, Kate Pilacky.

Pilacky is the Firelands associate field director working out of the office in Oberlin. She holds a degree in studio art from Kent State University.

The staff art exhibit was the idea of Pilacky and Elizabeth Mather, director of conservation planning, said Ken Wood, director of communications and marketing.

Pilacky has five paintings on display, all having to do with nature.

“I’ve always been interested in the environment,” she said. “I do whatever I need to do to work on projects to get land preserved.”

Working on the exhibit itself also has proven exciting.

Pilacky, who sells note cards of her artwork around Oberlin and other parts of Northeast Ohio, viewed the work of her co-workers as it came in.

“Photography, sculpture, weaving, pen and ink — everyone submitted very nice pieces,” she said. “Some were done 10 or 20 years ago, some were made specifically for the show.”

Pilacky created a painting of a cedar wax wing bird for the show and submitted previous works as well.

“This was an opportunity for the staff to show their artistic side,” she said. “Art is a great way to get the message across about the beauty of nature.”

Although there were no guidelines given to the artists about their work, each submission has something to do with nature.

“Our staff is an amalgam of different, talented people,” Wood said. “We have five to seven lawyers on staff, urban planners, biologists, land-use planners. They all have a really genuine passion for conservation, and they all have that edge, a somewhat artistic touch on nature and the natural world. All of the works in the show kind of reflect that.”

The Western Reserve Land Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving land throughout the area, saving 533 properties and 38,494 acres in northern and eastern Ohio. The organization opened its Moreland Hills headquarters, adjacent to Forest Ridge Preserve, one year ago.

The show is a way to invite the public into the new building to see what the land conservancy is all about, Wood said.

“We frequently have people who are riding bikes or riding horses or just driving by, come in to take a look,” he said. “We just wanted to open ourselves up to even more people.”

Even Wood submitted artwork to the exhibit, sharing three watercolors on sycamore bark.

“I’ve done stuff on my own before,” he said. “But I’ve never exhibited. I was out running one day and came across the sycamore bark. I thought it would be a cool medium to work in, so I picked it up and kept trying to figure out how I would work with it.”

Pilacky encourages people to come see the show.

“Art just has a way of bringing people together,” she said.

Contact Christina Jolliffe at 329-7155 or ctnews@chroniclet.com.

If you go

  • WHAT: Western Reserve Land Conservancy staff art exhibit
  • WHEN: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through March 30
  • WHERE: Western Reserve Land Conservancy headquarters, 3850 Chagrin River Road, Moreland Hills
  • FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.wrlandconservancy.org