TOWNSEND — It was a serendipitous beginning for two “band mothers” who met while they worked at transporting their teens to school activities.
The moms discovered they had something a little unusual in common; both were professionally trained artists.
Their disciplines are miles apart. Tamara Gonda, of Pepperell, is an abstract expressionist, a painter with a Master of Fine Arts from Cornell University.
Townsend’s Nancy French learned period furniture making at the North Bennet Street School in Boston. She had not used her workshop much over the last ten years.
Each woman recently started experimenting in new mediums.
A neighbor discovered Gonda was an artist. “Come on over and let’s do watercolor together,” the neighbor said.
Being polite, Gonda accepted, knowing she would not like painting in a realistic style.
She was wrong. “I have so much fun,” she said. Now she studies watercolor with Hiltrude Bennett in Pepperell.
Furniture making is time-consuming and the expensive pieces can be difficult to sell, so French had let her art slide.
Last year, she scaled down and tried something new for a group show at the Townsend Meeting Hall Gallery. She built a box with hand-carved dovetail joints to frame polished branches from a tree damaged by winter storms.
The one box has expanded to a series.
Their joint show, “Chisel and Brush,” opened at the Townsend Meeting Hall Gallery on March 4. It gave the artists inspiration to work.
“We needed a lot of pieces,” French said, so it was a bit of a scramble at the end.
A faint aroma of wood finishing oil lingered in the hall.
“I just made that mirror last night,” French said.
The two collaborated on six pieces. Three, on reclaimed bead board were started by French. Gonda began the other three.
“I think they were a lot of fun,” Gonda said, “It’s energizing.”
One piece almost did not happen. French told Gonda it was very pink.
“I knew she didn’t like it,” Gonda said.
Things changed. The next week, French saw the work again “and said when did you do that one?” Gonda said.
French did not realize she had seen it before and added spools of thread to the composition.
“Chisel and Brush” will hang in the Townsend Meeting Hall on Dudley Road through March 31.
“Engaging Moments with Ordinary Sights,” a solo show by Julie Barrows, a senior at Fitchburg State University, is on display in the corridor gallery through March 30.