‘Inside’ artwork comes to outside world

Wurzel’s pandemic-inspired paintings shown at Brookline boutique


Lucas Liu, Staff Writer

Surrounded by racks of clothing, jewelry displays, home decor items, and handbags, US Drawing and Painting Teacher Lanie Wurzel’s art adorns the walls of Cadeau Boutique and Gallery, a shop in Brookline Village.

On September 10, the boutique showcased Ms. Wurzel and her former mentor Susan Lichtman’s art in a new exhibit. Ms. Wurzel and Cadeau’s store owner, Sara Petras, have been friends for nearly 20 years and decided to partner on this project.

“It’s always exciting to have a show,” Ms. Wurzel said. “I learn something from the experience of getting the work out of the studio and seeing it in a new space.”

Ms. Petras wanted to focus on the theme “Inside,” Ms. Wurzel said, since that has been a focus for many artists since the pandemic started. Ms. Wurzel and Ms. Lichtman have always made work about domesticity, so their pieces worked well with the theme.

Ms. Wurzel works with BK Projects, an independent curator and art consultant in the Boston area, to sell paintings and make exhibitions like the one at Cadeau possible. In the past, BK Projects has helped Ms. Wurzel showcase her work at places like the Area Code Art Fair and Jameson & Thompson Framers.

Unlike the sites for some other exhibitions, Ms. Wurzel said, Cadeau’s untraditional environment added more perspective.

“The location in Brookline Village gets a lot of foot traffic, so it brings in a wider and unexpected audience into the store,” Ms. Wurzel said. “Viewing art in the context of other stuff gives it a different context—more like being in someone’s home.”

Ms. Wurzel said her own passion for art outside her teaching role at the school kept her busy during quarantine. She created all five paintings in the exhibit during the last 18 months.

“I feel very lucky to have something I am passionate about,” Ms. Wurzel said. “Throughout the lockdown, I was never bored. My paintings are always waiting for me.”

Ms. Wurzel said she was not originally intending to paint specifically for the show but her work is always variations on continuous themes, so she could show a selection of paintings that fit the “Inside” exhibition title.

Some of those paintings focus on “complex multi-figural narratives,” including her family members and her own house—a different motif than her pre-pandemic focus on female friendships.

“Art has always been an important part of my life, and making it is always something I am trying to find time for,” she said. “During the pandemic, I started painting my family and the domestic exterior spaces around my home more since home was the place we were all spending most of our time, and the people we live with were the ones we saw the most.”

At the school, Ms. Wurzel inspires others as a teacher, colleague, and artist, Ceramics Teacher Christian Tonsgard said.

“I have always enjoyed and admired [Ms. Wurzel’s] work,” he said. “I admire her use of imagery and color. She has beautiful perspectives that easily resonate with all her viewers.”

Sophie Li ’22, a former student in Ms. Wurzel’s Drawing and Painting class, said she appreciated Ms. Wurzel’s attitude and the “fun, stress-free class environment” she fostered.

“I think the best thing a young artist can receive is support, and that’s certainly what Ms. Wurzel provides to all her students,” Sophie said. “In my experience, her classes have not only taught me important fundamentals of art, but she also encourages originality and lets us explore creatively.”

Anji Friedbauer ’22, another former student of Ms. Wurzel’s, also appreciated the artistic freedom Ms. Wurzel encourages.

“In the past, my art teachers have been a bit more restrictive, or told me when they thought an idea I had might not be worth painting,” Anji said. “But with Ms. Wurzel, I always felt like I had the room to really go wild and experiment with different types of painting and subjects that I previously did not have the chance to explore.”

The exhibition closed on October 2, but more of Ms. Wurzel’s work can be found at helenawurzel.com.1