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Tuesday, April 23, 2024


Artist Used Pandemic to Find Creativity

Chanelle Rene’

Chanelle Rene, of Rio Grande, used her time during the pandemic to explore an interest in creative art. She found her niche and is having her first solo exhibit in March at the End of the Road Theater, in North Cape May. 


By Karen Knight

RIO GRANDE – For Chanelle Rene’, the pause that the Covid pandemic brought to many careers was a chance for her to explore her interest in creative arts.  

Trying her hand at everything from macrame’ to painting to drawing and others, she found her passion in mixed media painting and drawings and has taken her creativity to new levels. 

“This is big,” the Rio Grande resident said about her debut solo exhibition featuring contemporary paintings at the End of the Road Theater, 3845 Bayshore Rd., North Cape May. “It’s great to be able to show my work in my first solo exhibition here at home. If you had asked me if I saw this in my future five years ago, I would have said ‘no’. It’s really been great.” 

The show, called Pure Essence, is March 3-31, and will include about 25 pieces, according to Rene’, representing “feminine self-love. The show reflects the vulnerability and emotions of simply being from a Black woman’s perspective,” she explained. “My art seems to connect with all people as I am trying to capture the truest emotions.” 

Rene’ uses bright colors and gold leaf and described herself as a “big spray painter. I use oils at the end of the process to tie things together.” 

The women in the paintings are mostly copyright-free images, although Rene’ said her goal is to eventually use live models. She also uses photographic images, combined with realism and abstractions, to allow her to use her imagination. 

Rene’ said she used painting as “self-care” during the pandemic because she suffers from anxiety and seasonal depression.  

“The painting helps calm my mind,” she noted. 

She researched videos and tutorials on the internet to help guide her through the learning process.  

As she started producing her artwork, family and friends were very supportive and encouraged her to show her work. An opportunity came up at the Ocean City Arts Center to display her work, and she ended up as the 2021 Best of Show winner.  

Since then, she has exhibited her work nationally, including the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition, Noyes Art Museum, Cape May Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC) and The Curator’s Salon.  

“In high school, I was never interested in art and didn’t take any art classes,” Rene’, a West Cape May native, said. “Over the years, I began to admire artwork, especially brush strokes. Now, I start with a drawing that helps me sketch the figure on the canvas. For me, the thickness of the brush strokes and oil paint is a very sensory experience.”  

“As a mid-lifer, making a change from digital marketing to professional artist, I would encourage anyone to just do it if they have an interest in starting something new,” Rene’ said. “Let it unfold as it does and go for it. Life is short.” 

The opening reception for her show will be held March 3, from 4-6 p.m., and gallery hours coincide with venue performances and show times.  

Thoughts? Questions? Contact the author, Karen Knight, at 

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