A collaboration between local artists Christine Olmstead and Marta Staudinger entitled “Coalesce” at the Byrne Gallery in Middleburg finds synergy within two unique styles. The show, which opened Oct. 4, runs until Nov. 4. The gallery is hosting a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13. The event is open to the public.

The collection of abstract paintings is comprised of works in the same color palette: bronzes, coppers, whites, mauves, and hints of blue. “It felt like this show came to both of us,” said Olmstead. “Our styles hold hands and really go well together. We speak some of the same things. We try to bring beauty into people’s lives. We’re both interested in the human person.”

Their collaboration has led to a professional friendship. For them, there’s no competition, just honesty, openness, and a shared goal to bring more beauty into the world. The exhibit’s name “Coalesce” is founded in their friendship itself. As artists, they’ve collaborated in many capacities over the last year. Most recently, Olmstead held a solo exhibit at Staudinger’s Latela Art Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Their continued collaboration has carried a touch of serendipity, where chance encounters lead to the next step. The name “coalesce” portrays exactly that: a coming-together or a merging of two things, just as they have collaborated again and again. It was, in fact, during a collaboration for custom painting commissions by the two that led to meeting Bill Byrne, co-owner of the Byrne Gallery. Again, serendipity.

The “Coalesce” color palette may be the same, and the featured works may be abstract, but the exhibit showcases the diversity and uniqueness of their own artistic voice and styles. “We have very different styles, but there’s a lot of feeling and synergy in our work,” said Staudinger.

Christine Olmstead

Christine Olmstead, photo courtesy of Christine Olmstead.

Christine Olmstead, photo courtesy of Christine Olmstead.

Christine Olmstead grew up with a mother who loved art history and weaved it into her education as a child. She took private art lessons, studied great painters, and learned to recognize artists based on their color palettes and unique strokes. In high school, she began to explore abstract art, finding it allowed more freedom in what it communicated to viewers.

“Abstraction can say things that realism can’t. It can communicate emotions and philosophies and tap into a different layer of the human experience,” she said. “I’m really attracted to abstraction for that reason. The pieces that have moved me the most in life have been impressionist paintings and abstractions.” Today, she is a rising star in the art community. With pieces sold at West Elm and licensed to Target, her work stirs the senses by conveying deep emotion and thought.

“Music is a huge inspiration to me. When I hear sounds, I see it in colors and forms,” she explained. “I’m hugely inspired by a story. Music, external stories, personal stories—it’s all a narrative in my head. A particular story has a color and a movement in my mind. The visualization is something that I’m feeling or that has moved me in some way.” Learn more about Christine by visiting www.christineolmstead.com. Follow her on Instagram @christineolmstead or Facebook at facebook.com/ceolmstead.

Marta Staudinger

Marta Staudinger, photo by Donovan Gerald.

Marta Staudinger, photo by Donovan Gerald.

As the owner and curator of Latela Art Gallery in Washington, D.C., Marta Staudinger is fascinated by art history and abstractions. She is a Smithsonian lecturer and a painter of abstractions that communicate the spectrum of human emotion. For her, painting is “a meditative practice.” She carries an “inspiration notebook” with listings of the mediums that stir her senses: decaying walls filled with peeling paint and stains, the Catalan painter Antoni Tàpies, and reminders of Italy and Spain, the countries that feel most like home to her.

When she finds an artist who inspires her, she researches their lives to learn more about their backgrounds. What inspired their work? Who were their influences? What was their creative process? Finding the answers to these questions helps her delve fully into her own work. “Making art is such a lonely practice, but being able to share that [with Christine] … at the exact same time, someone’s going through the same thing,” she said. “I’m hoping to provide a solid story that puts me right in the middle of my inspiration lineage. It is inspiring.”

Learn more about Marta by visiting www.martastaudinger.com. Follow her on Instagram @martastaudinger. Explore the depths of the “Coalesce” exhibit during the month of October. The Byrne Gallery is located at 7 West Washington St., Middleburg. Gallery hours are Monday and Tuesday by appointment only, Wednesday – Saturday from 11 a.m.- 5 p.m., and Sunday 12-5 p.m. For more details, visit www.byrnegallery.com or call 540-687-6986.

By Chelsea Rose Moore.

This article first appeared in the October 2018 issue.