Amy Fennelly is a Tyringham native who has recently moved back to the area. Her history with the art scene in the Berkshires runs deep dating back to her high school summers working at the Tyringham Galleries, currently known as Santerella. A portfolio admission to the University of Massachusetts Amherst won her the Chancellor's Talent Award on the basis of her excellent achievement in art. Fennelly was chosen among several thousand applicants who applied in various majors and received a full four-year tuition waiver. She gradated cum laude in 1989 with a BFA in Painting and a minor in Art History.
In college, Fennelly enjoyed finding new ways of combining different mediums and began experimenting with decoupage, collage and mixed media. Her first collages were abstract and more about color and composition rather than imagery or subject matter until her discovery of Romare Bearden. Bearden’s work was nearer to what she was hoping to create herself. His use of paper as well as paint and the extremely personal feel of the narrative told through his art influenced Fennelly. She was particularly drawn to Bearden’s use of people doing everyday things in both interior and exterior settings and chose this concept for her senior thesis. Her idea was to show people in the interior scenes eating, drinking, dancing and socializing while windows, doors and ceilings were opened to outdoor scenes of nature; thus juxtaposing the man made world with the natural world. Almost thirty years later this is a theme Fennelly still employs.
After graduating in 1989, Fennelly moved to Los Angeles and joined LA Art, a group that had regular shows throughout the city. Not impressed with L.A. life, Fennelly moved back to the Berkshires and continued to create her grandiose mixed media collages. She landed a large artist loft space in the J.J. Newberry building on North Street with fellow artist, Byron Renderer. Fennelly and Renderer created many pieces of art, including the "Williamsburg Paint" series during the early 90's at Central Block. The show included Amy's Greek myth oil paintings and Byron's sizable oils such as "Boys Don't Cry", "The Juggler", and "Mexican Toilet".
In 2000, Fennelly and Renderer purchased a home in the Adirondacks and moved to north country. In the last two decades her work has been shown in various galleries including Lake Placid Center for the Arts, A Point of View Gallery, the Corscaden Gallery in Keene Valley as well as the gallery at the Upper Jay Arts' Center where she had her studio for many years. She has most recently showed at Laura Donovan Designs on Church Street in Lenox during the 2014 Summer Show and the Weller Memorial Library in April of 2015. Local art lovers will be happy to learn she will be showing her most recent work at The Art Barn Gallery in her hometown of Tyringham, Massachusetts.
“Using skillful hands, Amy Fennelly composes layer upon layer until what she arrives at is a masterly concerto of art, each collage appearing to the viewer like an elaborate and intricately woven painting” –M. Sirighano 2010
Byron Renderer began painting, drawing, and styling art in 1983. At the time he was living in Portland, Oregon as a self-employed sign painter and married with four children. From the beginning, painting, drawing, and watercolors served as an escape from the day to day business of sign making.
"To stand in front of an empty canvas with no one to please but myself was liberating and a great escape from the dictates and constraints of operating a sign business."
After moving to Massachusetts with his family in 1986 he set up his sign painting business on Main Street in Dalton. It was here a few years later where he would meet Amy Fennelly through a mutual friend. Byron remembers their first meeting clearly,
"I was in the back of my shop working on a watercolor depicting some musicians playing live on stage under colored lights. I remember Amy telling me years later as she watched me paint, surrounded by a mish-mash of dried brushes, dirty rags, sloppy paint cans and clutter that she had never seen a messier painter in her life. That was the beginning of a relationship that we've been able to enjoy for the last three decades."
Byron describes himself as a "more of a poet than an artist, more a musician than a painter." Nonetheless his artistic journey began in 1992 when he rented a giant studio loft and workspace with Fennelly on the third floor of the J.J. Newbury building on North Street in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
"We named our place Blockhead Studios and soon joined with a collective of artists who gathered around our building. We became members of Radius Gallery which showcased the small band of painters."
When Newbury's shut down, Byron and Amy moved to a studio on Main Street in Great Barrington. They enjoyed the art scene and quiet beauty of the Southern Berkshires and went on to live in Tyringham for many years until 2000 when they relocated to the Adirondack Mountains.
While up north, Renderer and his younger brother purchased a three-story old Ford car factory on the AuSable River in a sleepy hamlet of Upper Jay, NY. The building was used to house his upholstery business, a trade in which Byron had been practicing for decades. The brothers also began dealing antiques from the building's showroom. On the third floor of the building Amy continued to create in various mediums including her large scale mixed-media collage in her private studio.
Byron and Amy helped in the creation of the Upper Jay Art Center, which has evolved into a state grant-funded program directed by his brother, Scott Renderer. The main room of the building, cleverly named the "Recovery Lounge" was littered with misfit chairs and sofas from the upholstery business. The lounge began as a place for friends and neighbors to play and listen to music together. One of Byron's favorite contributions to the Recovery Lounge was the creation of "January Jams", an event every Sunday in January where spiring and seasoned musicians alike took the stage in front of peers while their local community snacked on baked ham sandwiches. The "Jams" were a wonderful way for north country folk to come out of winter hibernation to rejoice in live music.
In 2017, after one too many Adirondack winters, Byron and Amy decided to head back to the place where they had originally met, the Berkshires.
When asked about the relationship between him and Fennelly, Renderer beams, "We have lived and worked together for nearly three decades. We have been each other's best critics and enthusiastic supporters, helping one another fulfill our dreams and visions of living the artist life. We will continue to work and show our art in the future at The Art Barn Gallery in Tyringham. Please feel free to drop in and see what we are up to."