Art Space Gallery will officially begin its 2011 season Friday evening, May 6 with an artists’ reception and the public is cordially invited.  This has the makings to be a banner year at the gallery with fresh works by some of your longstanding favorite artists and offerings from a few new artists who are sure to develop their own following.

The reception will run from 5 to 8 p.m., and most of the artists will be on hand to share refreshments and conversation. Art Space Gallery is located at 342 Main St., across from the Strand Theatre.

Nineteen talented local artists exhibit their fine artwork at Art Space Gallery; each month, four of these artists’ recent works will be featured in the gallery’s foyer. When entering the gallery for the month of May, eyes will fix upon artwork by the new members Kay Sullivan, William Mack and Charles Laurier Dufour.  Joining them will be venerable painter Marjorie Strauss, returning from hiatus. All four artists get their inspiration from their natural surroundings.

The colors, rhythms, and cycles in the natural world journey through Sullivan’s mind and artist’s hand, then into her drawings and paintings. She stresses her connection to her surroundings, an awareness about being present in life, as being instrumental in creating her artwork. From her personal experiences in nature where light is interrupted by ocean waves and tree trunks, she said her focus is on patterns and colors.

“I portray what it feels like. I try to channel some of that life force — the feeling of light moving past my eyes, of fresh air in my lungs,” she said.

Mack’s woodturnings and cloisonné enamels are sensational creations whose inspiration is borne from the natural environs. In fact, oftentimes nature provides Mack with the material for his artwork. Other genres on his horizon include glass torch work, rock cutting and polishing, watercolor painting and drawing.  A man of varied artistic talents, Mack also is an accomplished photographer.

Dufour is primarily a nature photographer who specializes in natural fine art nudes. The relationship between the figure and the surrounding landscape is paramount in his artwork, with the result being a seamless weave of natural aesthetics. For May, the relationship between humans and stone/granite is the focus in a collection he has dubbed Inorganic Chemistry. His work also will be featured in the foyer in June in a collection he calls Organic Chemistry.

A graduate of Massachusetts College of Art, Rockland artist Strauss is returning to Art Space Gallery following an extended hiatus.  She has lived and exhibited her paintings, pastels and sculptures in Maine for more than 25 years. Describing her artwork, Strauss said she uses nature forms that connect to the atmosphere with fluid, sensuous lines — “drawing out the green life-blood and undulating rhythm in leaf veins and trees; color heightening the sensuous quality of the pieces.”

May hours at Art Space will be Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., open to 8 p.m. May 6 and on the downtown galleries’ season kickoff May 27. The gallery also will be open Sunday and Monday, May 29 and 30 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for Memorial Day weekend.

For more information and examples of the members’ artwork, visit artspacemaine.com.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to dernest@villagesoup.com.