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14 AAG Members in BRAC Juried Show

The 2023 juried show at the Blue Ridge Arts Center in Seneca opened on Jan. 20 and will run through Feb. 24. The juror was Frederick C. Graff.

Among the 60 pieces in the show are works by 14 Anderson Artists Guild members: Shea Abramo, Larry Bennett, Wendy Converse, Carolyn Gibson, Julie Lamp, Hamed Mahmoodi, Brenda McLean, Donna O’Hara, Kate Salley Palmer, Karen Powell, Ray Richards, Lori Solymosi, and Leslie Wentzell.

Three AAG members won awards. Wentzell took the $500 Second Place Award for One Day She Vanished and Turned to Gold (ceramic sculpture). Solymosi won the $200 Paul Dohr Memorial Award for Emile (mixed media). Abramo won a $50 Honorable Mention for Home (acrylic). Below are their reflections on their pieces:

Leslie Wentzell, One Day She Vanished and Turned to Gold (ceramic sculpture)

“It is a ceramic sculpture, mostly coil built from a red clay. The inspiration was taken from words I read in a novel although the piece is not about the novel in any way. The words brought a picture to my mind of a woman drenched in sunlight standing in a field of flowers. With my recent work, including this piece, I have tried to incorporate a more painterly feel to the surface. As a non-painter (or at least an infrequent painter), this is still quite a challenge to me. Additionally, on this piece I used gold leaf to create a magical sense of the intensity of the sun turning the figure to gold.”

Lori Solymosi, Emile (mixed media)

“This portrait is of Emilie Floge, a fashion designer who had a studio in Vienna years before Chanel opened hers in Paris. Emilie was the muse of Gustavo Klimt and model for The Kiss and other works by Klimt. I saw this photo in a history book and loved the outfit. Such costumes were common for Gustave and Emilio to wear in the garden. Klimt loved to use gold leaf and so do I.”

Shea Abramo, Home (acrylic)

“My photographer friend Rena from Martinburg, W.V., had a series of black and white photos that just blew my mind. With permission of course I asked to use her shot and twist it to my favor. This process took close to 6 months, in acrylic on a 36 x 48 canvas. I was adopted by Artisan in Anderson to give me a space to paint this piece. What I love about this town is I am always looked after and supported! So painting on Market Street every day without being distracted by outside sources, I was really able to take my time and understand why that is so necessary. I also exercised thumbnail sketches for the first time! I wanted to see this piece as shapes first and shadows second. I journaled my whole process as well. I would say a majority of my time went into staring, listing my thoughts, and tracking my color palette through each phase. I really wanted to experiment! The Anderson Arts Center loaned me a yardstick and T ruler that absolutely changed my life! Overall, though, this piece was a struggle but a necessary struggle. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and at the same time encouraged me to push through.

Home to me represents a space that can mean anything—where you came from, where you’ve been, what you’re living in, what it feels like you’re living in—so many ways to interpret, but for me, it represents a space I know in my heart. My father was incarcerated a month after I was born (and is currently), my mother a “dancer” and master at figuring out how to raise me alone, our family genetically mapped with addiction and mental illness, and the constant traveling that took place to find a home—this piece represents all of that! The process of doing this painting represents all of that too. Home is a reminder that with all the cards stacked against me, I have always made a Home out of the situation, that I am living and breathing proof that I can adapt and overcome, and my relationship with God confirms I always have shelter. And as a person and a painter, I can create light in the darkest places.”

For more information about the show, visit


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