This May, JRB Art at The Elms celebrates the official month of roses with the painted fantasies of Chicago artist Eleanor Spiess-Ferris, who is acknowledged as one of America’s great visionary women artists and Oklahoman Beth Hammack’s abstract paintings. Both exhibits will open May 4 with a reception from 6 to 10 p.m. during The Paseo Arts District’s monthly First Friday Gallery Walk. The exhibit will run through May 29. Eleanor Spiess-Ferris studied at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of New Mexico. Inspired by her Spanish heritage and diverse upbringing, Eleanor’s vibrant paintings juxtapose the beautiful and the comic with the tragic, or the real with the unreal. The Art Forum critic James Yood has noted that “You can’t teach imagination, and for an artist such as Eleanor Spiess-Ferris, that stunning ability to leap from here and now toward what and if is a central strength, the platform from which all else exudes. Her figures, sometimes male, but usually female, with a vague historical air, as if they are transported from Victorian or Renaissance times, akin to commedia dell’arte actors and actresses, capable of nuance with their determined roles.” Yood has described her work as “melancholic, brooding, wistful, heartfelt, poignant, tragic, tender, etc.,” but notes that none of those words fully describe her work. Beth Hammack is a beloved Oklahoma City artist whose work is in several important private and corporate collections. For this exhibit of abstract paintings, she has combined a loose graphite drawing style with a layered and sometimes geometric application of color. Beth graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. She has also studied at the Chicago Art Institute and the London City School of Arts. Following graduation, Beth spent her early career as an interior designer and in the 1980s was the founder and principal designer of a national sterling jewelry line named ZAGAL. She credits her interior design experience as giving her the ability to visualize how her work will relate to and enhance the physical environment in which it is placed.