ART FOR THE SOUL by Pat Silbert




As a painter these questions have circled around me for years. Recently, I found a book to aid in the exploration of these questions about art and artists and about why we do the work we do. The book, Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong is a discussion of art and artists in our culture, not about art therapy, per se, but about the possible therapeutic effects of art on the art-makers and the viewers.

Whether we are artists or art lovers, can we imagine art as a partner, helping us to be more alert to what is missing in our lives, to be more thoughtful, kind, open-minded? The book speaks of art that will help us “lean toward the good.”

While reading this book, I wondered: what is in our artist minds as we work? What is driving us to keep doing what we do? Do we each have an inner spark that keeps firing, driving us to continue and grow as we work? Do we think in terms of our art helping the world in some way? I have just again seen and been inspired by The Great Migration Series at the Phillips Gallery in Washington, D.C. The exhibit includes 30 of artist Jacob Lawrence’s original 60 paintings focused on the journey of millions of African Americans to escape Jim Crow laws and unrelenting poverty in the South, in the period between 1920 and WWII. He captures the pain and also the hope in people, in entire families, seeking a better life in the North. His work feels to me like an example of an artist’s passion to do some good by recording a period of history he knew so well, as his parents had been a part of that traumatic migration.

“These strange and tumultuous times make me question and wonder, and ask, what is art for and why do I do this?”    – Pat Silbert


Today, in these strange tumultuous times, I question and wonder, and ask, what is art for and why do I do this? Is this enough? And I ask how do we step back in our minds and think in terms of creating art that will, in the words of historian Mirchea Eliade, “offer a rendering in the fabric of daily life”. In other words, how do we create art that will give a viewer pause to inform, arrest and inspire?

“Transcendant Protection” – Pat Silbert

Art as Therapy raises an interesting question of art as “propaganda.” If the artist has a message, is that propaganda? Is that OK? The authors believe that the artist of the future will have, “an interest in art’s true, historic mission: the promotion of a sensory understanding of what matters most in life.” And this artist of the future “must head directly for the underlying mission of art: changing how we experience the world.”


“Silent Earth” – Pat Silbert

For many years I have been working in my studio to create work that will remind and inspire the viewer to value and preserve the natural world. From a series of flowers, to sheep, and now trees, I have tried to show how valuable these living beings are to our survival. Trees are center stage in my work now and ancient Buddhist images appear as protectors of the natural world. It is my hope that this will create for someone “a rendering in the fabric of daily life”…in order to give someone a mindful pause for thought.

“To Be Revered” – Pat Silbert

Pat Silbert works in and from the natural world. Her paintings and oil pastel drawings reflect a love of nature and a belief in the interconnectedness of all life. From this spiritual perspective her work is a form of meditation. Silbert’s work can be seen as a bridge between the human world and the natural world —it works as a reminder to us of the value of the natural world.

Silbert is a longtime member of Waverly Street Gallery. Her work has also shown in the Washington, D.C. area for many years at Zenith Gallery, Kornblatt Gallery, Fendrick Gallery, and others. She studied at George Washington University, The Corcoran Art School and holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area and in Jaffrey, New Hampshire in the summer. She is a dedicated gardener and inveterate traveler.



Waverly Street Gallery will soon be celebrating its 25th Anniversary with a host of special events and announcements to mark this incredible milestone. We are often asked about the history of our amazing Gallery. With the abundance of beauty in many art forms, it is appropriate that the story should begin with a “beauty contest” in the early 1980’s. That’s how the Planning Board referred internally to the competing plans to develop the site which became 4600 East West Highway.

A gala opening was held for what was then called Arts Alive on April 16, 1993. The brochure handed out that evening noted that throughout the year the Gallery “will feature prominent artists, craftspeople and special events, which will “demonstrate the unique and varied styles of both local and nationally renowned artists.”

Waverly Street Gallery 4600 East-West Highway Bethesda, Maryland

It also promised that Gallery visitors would “experience an uncommon opportunity to meet and observe the resident artists creating their works and demonstration techniques.” We are proud to uphold these high standards today with ongoing exhibits of original art, demonstrations and artist talks to benefit the D.C. metro arts community and the public-at-large. After nearly 25 years, Waverly Street Gallery remains one of the leading fine art galleries in the D.C. metro area. Our artists include painters, sculptors, glass and ceramic artists, printmakers, jewelers, photographers and metalsmiths.

For further information, please contact the Gallery at 301-951-9441.

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