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An artist in our midst: Meet Debbie Florentino-Dlugolecki

Debbie Florentino-Dlugolecki's "Friends," a pastel drawing, is one of the works on display at the Liverpool Art Center.

Debbie Florentino-Dlugolecki's "Friends," a pastel drawing, is one of the works on display at the Liverpool Art Center.

— After those first few weeks she sought out experts who could teach her how to grow her craft. She found just the right teacher in the village of Liverpool at the Liverpool Art Studio and began taking classes from Sandra Fioramonti.

Now, not even a few years later, her award-winning work hangs in the Skaneateles Artisans Art Gallery and in the Liverpool Art Studio/Gallery. She has won national recognition, earning a spot in the National Northeast Pastel Exhibition in Old Forge for her work “Friends” — a piece that captures the light of white birch trunks against a fall backdrop. There is something in each of her compositions that invites us to ponder, to question. It can be a fog that effaces a portion of reality in a pastoral piece or a mist that transforms Route 57 into an odd juxtaposition of contemporary and rural.

At work in her basement studio, Florentino-Dlugolecki’s hands are elegant and dirty. Her dog-eared books are carefully stacked next to her easel just in case she is stuck on a concept and needs to do research. She moves the pastel on the paper with her fingers ever so precisely. She is a study in contrast — a beautiful and poised woman who might herself be the subject of an artist’s hand and a young girl curious about what her work can teach her. She won’t craft the human figure unless it is anonymous. She won’t let humanity distract her from the view of nature she wants to cast — it is primary. In Florentino-Dlugolecki’s world, nature is before the individual.

Her work (along with the work of Sandra Fioramonti) is on display at the Liverpool Art Center until March 21. The center is located at 101 Lake Drive, Liverpool.

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