In December of 1998, Dianne Bernhardís vision of the Art Spirit Foundation truly revealed itself when the completion of her gallery culminated with a holiday gala called An Angelic Encounter. The show included a collection of winterscapes by Herman Margulies and an exhibit of handcrafted angels based on Renaissance paintings of the Annunciation.
A lifelong obsession with handmade dolls and a desire to decorate her home with angelic figures was redirected as inspiration for the premier gallery opening. The angels and the accompanying Madonna were arrayed in rich fabrics of jewel tones adorned with glistening crystals and gilded trims. The evening featured Broadway carolers and hot wassail. The encounter was a success and has become a popular annual event.
In 1999, Art Spirit revisited the angelic theme with a black tie Pre-millennium Celebration featuring a heavenly host of white angels executed in an array of the fine silk fabrics in tonal shades of cream. The dolls themselves looked as though they had been carved from gypsum. Shirley Kraus was the featured artist and exhibited her clever, colorful modern monotypes.
After the events of September 11th, Mrs. Bernhard knew that a visit from the Angels was absolutely imperative. So for December of 2001, she went to work with little time and much uncertainty enlisting the talents of some daring artisans; this time she created a Liberty Angel with magnificent stained glass wings that soared high above her guests...Wings of Freedom! Herman Margulies once again found inspiration from his muse and executed five new paintings featuring the American Flag against the backdrop of the Connecticut landscape; he entitled the series Remembrance. It was an unforgettable evening.
In 2002, the original angels were featured in the holiday issue of Victoria magazine and paid a visit to the National Arts Club in New York City. The White Angels were installed at the 550 Gallery in Bethlehem, CT where Victoria had previously discovered the Renaissance angels the prior year. The magazine article has led to great exposure and much interest in the Art Spirit Angels. A tour to the Butler Institute of American Art is planned for Christmas 2003, and a new set of angels is currently being designed for exhibition at the Bernhard Gallery!
Because the Angelic Encounter embodies the philosophy of Art Spirit, a project that allows collaborating artists to share joy and enrich life, Mrs. Bernhard intends to continue the tradition as the Art Spirit Foundationís annual holiday event.