Contact: Cecilia Carter Browne
Executive Director

PO BOX 1051
Harrisonburg, VA  22803
Phone 540-801-8779

For Immediate Release: May 2011

Erin Donnelly’s Casting the Lake
Exhibition OPENS MAY 6, 2011

(Above: Erin Donnelly, Shadow, 2010)

Harrisonburg, VA – The Arts Council of the Valley presents Erin Donnelly’s Casting the Lake, a luminous series of paintings based on the artist’s childhood memories of summers spent at a mountain lake. The opening reception is in conjunction with the First Fridays Downtown event on May 6 from 5-7 p.m. Donnelly’s work will remain on view in the Smith House’s Darrin-McHone Art Gallery until the end of May.  

Cecilia Carter Browne, executive director of the Arts Council of the Valley said, “Donnelly’s works are executed with technical mastery and imagination. By contrasting layers of dense painterly brushstrokes with open areas of pale washes or raw canvas, the artist creates a sophisticated push-pull between opacity and transparency, abstraction and realism.”

Symbolically, the artist explains, there are two stage sets that provide her with shifting but recognizable backdrops for her artwork.  One setting is the house in which she grew up, and the other is a lake where her family gathered every summer of her young life.

“I believe the lake has registered as subconscious architecture: its depths translated as my own psychic latticing.  In unearthing a treasure trove of old family photographs from that lake cabin childhood, I have decided to perform a type of personal archaeological excavation, to dig through the layers of memory and investigate why these sensory experiences had such deep impact,” said Donnelly.

The exhibition at the Smith House is titled Casting The Lake for its dual references.  First, casting the fishing line into the waters is comparable to plumbing the lake’s depths for inspiration.  Second, the works populate a metaphorical stage set with remembered or dreamt characters, many of which are cast as heroes of leisure.

Donnelly said, “Hopefully, these paintings go beyond personal memory to become compelling fragments of the American myth.” 

Erin Donnelly and her family make their home in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, where she continues a full-time studio art practice while offering painting workshops to adults and children. The California native holds a bachelor’s degree in social and cultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and completed work toward her master’s degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  While pursuing her education, the artist also studied drawing and painting. Her undergraduate studies focused on mythological and religious traditions in contemporary cultures, and her painting practice continues this line of investigation.

Donnelly has worked variously as an archaeologist, interior designer, and landscape designer. While working at The Wiseman Group Interior Design in San Francisco, she designed a rug for Doris Leslie Blau’s Designer Collection that was selected as one of the best designs of the century in Architectural Digest’s Great Design Issue in March 2003.   Her artwork is held in private collections and has been exhibited in galleries in Boulder, Denver and, now, Harrisonburg.

Since opening its doors in 2002, the Arts Council of the Valley and its Court Square Theater have emerged as a dynamic force in the cultural, economic, and educational life of our community. It produces, manages, and promotes the visual and performing arts from its two locations: the Smith House and Court Square Theater. Art openings occur the first Friday of the month from 5-7 p.m. and are open to the public. For more information on the Arts Council of the Valley visit or call (540)-801-8779.

Winter 2010    Requited Journal Featured Artist
Spring 2007      Illiterate magazine Issue 4 Featured Artist
May 2003          Architectural Digest, Great Design IssueRug Design for Doris Leslie Blau’s   
                            “Designer Collection” selected as one of the best designs of the year
(Erin in front of her rug at the Doris Leslie Blau "Designer Collection" opening party, NYC