The last thing people want to see after a bleak few months is dark and dreary art.

The last thing people want to see after a bleak few months is dark and dreary art.

"It's been a long, cold winter, and a long, stressful winter," said Marlana Keynes, co-owner of Hammond Harkins Gallery. "And all of a sudden, you begin to see the buds. Spring is the perfect time for still life."

The Bexley gallery is putting on "Blossom: The Art of Fruit and Flower," an exhibition of 11 artists' takes on fruits and blooms. And a few miles away in German Village, Keny Galleries is also showing warm-weather-appropriate art - still-life drawings by former CCAD administrator Lowell Tolstedt.

Keynes wanted the Hammond Harkins exhibition to offer a glimpse of still life's rich history. Although the work is all from the 20th and 21st centuries, the artists draw on a range of historical influences.

Visitors will see Katherine Hartley's 17th-century-like creations, Greer Morton's bright, semi-abstract takes on flowers and Joe Anastasi's oil paintings with round fruit a la Rembrandt, among work by other artists.

The exhibition also includes a painting by Lucius Brown Kutchin, an artist who lived in Columbus in the early 20th century. "Still Life" was painted in 1929, and Keynes borrowed it from the Columbus Museum of Art to add more historical context to the exhibition.

Just because the subject of a still-life painting is inanimate doesn't mean it has to look, well, still. Tolstedt's colored-pencil drawings of candy and fruit have an almost photographic clarity and a feeling that the objects could roll out of their container at any moment.

"He's able to imbue his works with a sense of movement," said Timothy Keny, Keny Galleries co-owner. "That's something special in his work - the way the stems of the cherries are animated and moving around in the composition."

Tolstedt also draws using an uncommon technique called silverpoint, in which a thin wire of silver - sometimes placed inside a mechanical pencil - is used to etch an image onto a coated canvas. Artists shy away from the medium because it's nearly impossible to erase a mistake, so a well-trained hand is necessary to be successful.

"There are literally a handful of artists in the country with his technical ability," Keny said of Tolstedt. "His work transcends his excellent craftsmanship."