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Visionary artists share view of world

February 21, 2013
By Kathleen Palumbo , Town Crier correspondent

In a sense like being offered the perfect opportunity to stop and smell the roses, visitors to the Davis Branch of the YMCA in Boardman, may want to take a moment to view the Visual Art Display available through the end of the month in the main lobby of the facility.

According to information provided by Suzanne Gray, who, as art instructor at the YMCA has worked closely with these special artists, The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, defines visionary art as "art produced by self-taught individuals, often without formal training in the form of works arising from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself. In short, visionary art begins by listening to the inner voices and inner perceptions of the soul."

With years of training in the arts, Brad Pipoly is an anomaly among visual artists. According to Gray, encouraged as a child, Pipoly went on to win a state drawing competition while attending Poland High School, and following his graduation attended both the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and Youngstown State University, where he learned fundamental techniques.

Article Photos

Photo Kathleen Palumbo, Town Crier correspondent
One of three visual artists whose work is currently on display at the Boardman Branch of YMCA, Brad Pipoly is pictured with Suzanne Gray, in whose classes he is enrolled.

A 20-year hiatus followed, during which Pipoly remained busy in construction, landscaping, house painting, and various other trades, returning to his passion just a few years ago.

Gray also shared that, driven by their own impulses to create, the work of visionary artists is often "a striking personal statement possessing a powerful, often spiritual quality."

It comes as no surprise then that "Life experiences and a return to his Christian roots have been instrumental in the vision he sees going forward," said Gray of Pipoly, adding that a close connection to the Rev. Tim O'Neil, has led him to multiple retreats at the Abbey at Gethsemani in Kentucky, driving a desire to capture the Holy Spirit in his work, such as in two of his works currently on display.

A self-identified perfectionist, Pipoly pores over the works of Vincent Van Gogh, perhaps the most well-known of the visionary artists, attempting to emulate a style filled with freshness, color, spontaneity, and urgency, said Gray. Although Pipoly "copies from the master at times, most of his art is drawn from experiences, real and imagined," Gray said.

"His technical prowess allows accurate rendering of landscapes even while sitting indoors surrounded by nothing more stimulating than four walls," she said. She added that, weather permitting, Pipoly will take his easel about town, painting sites familiar or not, always infused with his own brand of color.

Calling him "at once outgoing and introverted, a smile spreading across his face, or so caught up in his own thoughts that he may seem unapproachable," Gray said that although "unsure of what drives him, he nonetheless is driven - a characteristic evident in his art."

"Usually I just put my paints on the ground," said Pipoly, on his about town travels, although quick to add that it is only while in class that he is inspired.

Originally from Poland, Pipoly said that he has made his home in Boardman for 20 years now. He explained that two years ago, he was interested in taking a painting class. While a participant in the Silver Sneakers program at the YMCA, he discovered Gray's classes and has taken part twice weekly ever since.

Currently employed by Imperial Cleaning, Pipoly said he will also be working for Uhrain's Greenhouse for the summer. In addition to Pipoly's work, those of John Patterson and Theresa Hickson are also part of the display.

With the flow of traffic that frequents the Boardman YMCA facility on McClurg Road, there is just no telling how many visitors will benefit from the work of these fine local artists. There's just nothing that compares to a brief stop among their many works, smelling the roses so to speak.



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