SALEM, N.Y. - Down to Earth, an exhibit of paintings by Janine Thomas, Leah McCloskey, Tom Kerr, Elizabeth Cockey and Ginny and Annie McNeice, opens at the Gardenworks Gallery on Friday, July 19. The show features a wide-range of work including landscapes, streetscapes and rural scenes painted in oils, pastels and watercolors. A public reception for the artists will be held on Sunday, July 28 from 2 - 4 p.m., a wonderful opportunity to meet and speak with the artists. Light refreshments will be served.

Janine Thomas taught art at Hartford Central School for over 30 years. She continues to teach locally in workshops at the Georgi Museum and other locations. Early in her career she hosted a community-based art class that has continued for the last 28 years. Thomas has a great ability to encourage her students and guide them to their artistic strengths.

Leah McCloskey's recent works are fantastical watercolors of her favorite animals: heritage breed chickens. For the past eight years she has driven Washington County's back roads, exploring and photographing farms, in search of inspiration. Her work has been exhibited in numerous galleries including the Salander O'Reilly Gallery in New York City; Gallery 100, Mimosa Gallery and Crimson Gallery in Saratoga Springs; Valley Artisans in Cambridge; and Riverfront Studios in Schuylerville. She studied art at Syracuse University and the Art Students League. She splits her time between New York City and her studio in Salem.

Tom Kerr of Salem paints old barns and other pastoral scenes of Washington County and the surrounding area. Kerr works primarily with pastels to capture the changing landscape. Kerr is a self-taught artist who has studied with Joan Bohrer, Virginia McNeice and at the Art Students League in New York City. He is also a member of the Southern Vermont Arts Center. He has exhibited at McCartee's Barn in Salem.

Elizabeth Cockey is an art therapist who has achieved national acclaim for her work with long term and palliative care facilities. She has created recreational art therapy programs in the Baltimore area for over 18 years and is the author of several books. Her memoir, 'Drawn from Memory: A Personal Story of Healing through Art,' chronicles her experiences in working with Alzheimer's and dementia patients as an art therapist. Her second book, 'Upstate New York: Towns That We Love,' is an illustrative history about the upper Hudson River Valley in New York. Elizabeth and her husband, Barton, completed 'Drawn to the Land: The Romance of Farming,' an illustrated story depicting life on the farm and alternative approaches to farming in 2010. The couple lives in Baltimore and Greenwich where they enjoy antiquing, painting, and gardening.

Virginia McNeice's work in oil and pastel is inspired by nature. Richly toned, with strong colors and contrasts of shadows, McNeice's pastels and oils have garnered recognition and won awards. Born in New York City, McNeice attended Pratt Institute of Art and has studied at the Art Student's League, SUNY Albany, Skidmore College and the Vermont Studio Center. She lives and works on an old farm in Cambridge, N.Y. "I am continually exploring landscapes around my house in upstate New York. Often I will paint many variations of the same scene to explore the variations as the day passes. I love the challenge of trying to capture a transient moment on paper or canvas before the light has changed and the moment is gone forever."

Annie McNeice studied art at the College of St. Rose in Albany. She creates pastels and oil paintings of landscapes. A teacher of high school art at Mount Anthony in Bennington, she has shown her work at the Valley Artisans Market and Bean Heads in Cambridge. Annie McNeice began painting landscapes after a Fullbright Scholarship took her to England, where she taught art at a private girls' school in south London. When she returned to Cambridge, she began painting from pictures she had taken while she traveled through Europe. She says she paints to "stay inspired, which comes across in my teaching. And when I'm not teaching, it brings me pleasure." For further information, call Gardenworks at (518) 854-3250 or visit us on the web at www.gardenworksfarm .com.