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24 AAG Members in 2023 Belton Juried Show

The 2023 juried show at the Belton Center for the Arts opened with a reception on Sept. 23 and will be on display through Nov. 3. The jurors were Jonathan Grauel and Angela Grauel.

Among the 64 pieces in the show are works by 24 Anderson Artists Guild members: Sandra Bates, Larry Bennett, Matthew Brophy, Dale Cochran, George Crown, Sherron Dorris-Fergason, Jane Friedman, Carolyn Gibson, Edith Hamblin, Thomas Hunt, Pamela Hunt, Julie Lamp, Hamed Mahmoodi, Ravinder Malik, Brenda McLean, Barbara Mickelsen Ervin, Rosemary Moore, Kathy Moore, Al Morris, Wesa Neely, Yvonne Park, Diann Simms, David Wentzell, and Leslie Wentzell.

Five members won awards: Matthew Brophy, Larry Bennett, Pamela Hunt, George Crown, and Leslie Wentzell. Below are their reflections on their pieces and the awards they won.

Matthew Brophy’s Black Emerging (raku-fired ceramic), $500 Third Place Award

“This is a black and white raku-fired ceramic vase. Its design came from my desire to try to get away from my symmetry addiction, lol! My wife told me a while back that my pieces are showing such even precision that I was losing the ‘chaos effect’ that many artists are known for. Popping colors is also a signature style of many of the pieces I do. This vase represents my attempt to break from that path and onto another. In this piece there are no straight lines anywhere. Flowing and curved semi circles that tail off in different directions was my inspiration for this. It’s almost flame like with continuity between the spaces. It’s risky to invest a lot of time in a raku piece, especially a large one. They can crack or even explode, which has been a heartbreaker for me in the past. I have to use a special clay and handle it with kid gloves during the firing process. The vase is placed in a metal garbage can containing combustibles which catch fire and burn around it. This traps smoke in the clay and makes the unglazed areas black.

It takes over an hour just to scrub the soot off the white crackle glaze, which has to be done while the piece is still hot. Overall, I was pleased how the vase turned out.”

Larry Bennett’s Aspen Glow (photography), $350 Purchase Award

“I really like exploring an aspen grove; looking for the perfect scene deep in the forest is relaxing and inspiring to me. If you catch the fall color at peak, you’re in for a real eye-popping experience. This grove of aspens is in Crested Butte, Colorado. This shot was taken just steps from the campground road, with six kids playing football behind me. It doesn’t take long when you walk into a grove to find a perfect spot. Everywhere you look is a perfect spot. Lighting can be an issue in the dark forest, but in this shot I used a fill flash to light the trees. Moral of the story: Get into the forest as often as you can.”

Pamela Hunt’s Papa’s Hollyhocks (hooked rug), $200 Merit Award

“This is a rug hooking design I created about ten years ago after finding a photo of my father's hollyhocks which he grew beside his garden shed in Tennessee. He was a wonderful gardener with a very prolific green thumb!

“My process at that time was to make some sketches then decide on the colors by painting a watercolor sketch/design. I then drew my original design from the watercolor sketch on linen burlap fabric, but after a few inches of hooking, I found that I was not happy with my color choices, nor was I up to the task as this is a fairly large piece and I, being a rookie rug hooker at the time, decided to put it away in a bag of other unfinished projects (UFO'S).

“Fast forward to the end of March 2023 and my finding the never-hooked rug tucked away just waiting to become a finished piece. I decided it would be worth hooking but then knew I had to redraw most of the design and use my own style of painting and rug hooking, which is a cross between illustrative and impressionistic. Thankfully the original design was drawn with a water-soluble quilting pen and it had faded away so that I could redesign it. On April 1, 2023, I began hooking the rug with wool yarns that I had spun myself as well as commercial wool yarn, acrylic yarn and wool roving. All of those used together give the rug so much texture. As I was hooking, I found that my color choices were more intuitive than planned. I used the values and tones that spoke to me for the flowers as well as the foliage and sky. A great deal of my undyed hand-spun yarn was used in the sky area as well as some raw roving and bits of commercial wool yarn. I completed my rug on July 15, 2023.”

George Crown’s Pendleton Mill 2021 (transparent watercolor), $100 Merit Award

“On 300-pound Arches watercolor paper, this triptych is part of my ‘realistic abstract’ series of watercolors. The old fallen down mill by the train tracks in Pendleton sparked my imagination. By cropping in on piles of lumber, I was able to create this composition. This painting is a classic example of negative space painting.”

Leslie Wentzell Hope Is The Thing With Feathers (ceramic sculpture), $100 Merit Award

“I was inspired to create this piece by the poem of the same title by Emily Dickinson. Words often conjure up images in my mind. Because I use birds in my figurative work to convey emotion and ideas, I felt a connection to Dickinson’s metaphorical reference to a bird in her poem. On a personal level, hope is sometimes all we have to hang on to in times of difficulty. This is particularly meaningful to me right now.

“I visualized a figure gently trying to hold on to a small bird. I could see the way her hands needed to be in my mind’s eye—one arm slightly elevated. There was the challenge. This hollow ceramic sculpture was built from the base up, without an internal support, so external supports were employed to support the right arm and left hand until the clay firmed up and dried and even through the first firing in the kiln. Only then can the ceramic material hold that projecting weight.

“I can only wish that my sculpture will resonate with viewers in the same way as the beautiful words by Emily Dickinson resonated with me:

‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers -

That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops - at all –

For more information about the Belton Center for the Arts, visit

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