Random Acts of Artists is associated with Sharon because of the public art the group has created there.
But, group Vice President and Co-Founder Linda Brink said she’d like artists to think regionally instead of just within a small area.
“My main objective for the group is to get exposure for the artists,” the Brookfield woman said. “It’s a big thing for these people to go to Warren. I encourage them, ‘Get your art out of the area. Don’t just concentrate on one area.’”
RAA has had shows in Youngstown and New Castle and is has tendered a proposal to display works in Pittsburgh. Beginning Jan. 13, it will exhibit in Warren at Trumbull Art Gallery.
“Random Fantasies,” which will run through Feb. 25 at the gallery at 158-162 N. Park Ave., will be a juried show of individual works by RAA artists, and an installation featuring decorations of plastic hands. A reception will be held opening day from 7 to 9 p.m.
RAA started as an opportunity for socializing and has grown into a full-time – albeit unpaid – job for Brink that has taken her away from making art.
But, she’s not complaining. RAA President Terry Polonsky and herself “love, love, love Random Acts of Artists,” said Brink, a Champion native. “We started it. It’s like our baby. It’s our passion. We’re lucky about that.”
The group’s origin dates to a friend of Brink’s, Patty Mohney, wanting to learn how to paint with watercolors.
“I said, ‘I know there’s a class down at Gallery 29,’” the former art space in Sharon, Brink said. “I said, ‘I’ll go with you.’ I wasn’t really interested in watercolor. I went to accompany her.”
Brink embraced watercolor, which has become her main media, and met Polonsky.
“It kind of got to the point where we didn’t need the class anymore,” said Brink, a former childcare provider. “But, like, all of our friends were there. So, we’re paying $12 a week so we can go hang out with our friends.”
A conversation between Brink and Polonsky about creating a way for artists to get together led to what is now a free monthly meeting the second Wednesday of the month at the Apollo Maennerchor Club in Sharon. The artists bring pieces they are working on for advice, critiques, suggestions and a friendly work environment.
A request from a member to create art cards for Joshua’s Haven, the homeless shelter for men in Sharon, got the artists thinking of ways to take their art public.
Someone involved with the city of Sharon asked the RAA artists to create art for Riverview Garden Park, the former Bicentennial Park, and they made decorated posts. That was followed by posts decorated with literary themes at the Community Library of the Shenango Valley, an outdoor portrait gallery in an alley in downtown Sharon, flower paintings on Connelly Boulevard and other art installations in town.
Activity associated with RAA, now a non-profit corporation, has left Brink with less time to paint. However, she has started attending art classes at Youngstown State University, taking advantage of the free studies available to people older than 60.
After years of oil painting and then watercolor painting, she is working with acrylic paints, adapting them to her favorite subjects, portraits and “interesting things that aren’t normal.”
“I feel like I’m starting to morph into something else,” Brink said.
A stage in that morphing can be witnessed in her “Random Fantasies” submission, a large, colorful self-portrait that reimagines her hair as circular portals into other subjects and incorporates a tree leaf, tissue paper and glitter.
While RAA is looking to expand into new ventures, so is Brink, a mother of two and grandmother of five.
“I’m starting to produce more,” she said. “I’m starting to think about myself a little more than the group.”