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8 AAG Members in Hartwell Show; Shea Abramo Wins “Best in Show”

Eight Anderson Artists Guild (AAG) members had artwork included in the Hart Regional Arts Council’s annual juried show for 2022, which opened at the Hartwell Art Center on June 16 and runs through July 23: Shea Abramo, Evelyn Beck, Wendy Converse, Michael England, Carolyn Gibson, Julie Lamp, Stan O’Bannon, and Diana Walter. The juror for 2D and 3D artwork was AAG member Leslie Wentzell. (There is a separate category for photography.)

Four AAG members won awards, all in the category for two- and three-dimensional works. Shea Abramo won the $350 Best in Show Award for Hope (acrylic). The $175 Three-Dimensional Award went to Wendy Converse for Baby Bot (wood-fired clay). The $50 Two-Dimensional Merit Award went to Stan O’Bannon for Still Standing (watercolor). The $50 Three-Dimension Merit Award went to Julie Lamp for Sea Shell (basketry).

Here are their reflections on their award-winning pieces:

Shea Abramo’s Hope

“This painting is of a photograph of an old asylum in Czechoslovakia by photographer Peter Horvath. Post-pandemic and in search of material to paint for an exhibit, I reached out to photographers to paint their works that inspired me—not knowing that my asking and painting their works inspired them! This piece was truly the hardest piece I have ever done. I used anything from brushes to palette knives to laundry cards, whatever I could use to truly get the grit in those walls. The color palette I love--muted, dark, dirty—but it adds to the depth of this piece and the light from the window draws your eye! What is center focus is the word Hope, but it’s off to the side—slightly rebellious, I thought. But it’s just so perfect to title this so. I had never painted anything like it. The photograph had me in awe and to try to replicate it was not only intimidating but overwhelming. Is it sellable? Is that important? Is this important? Are people going to see this and see how hard I worked? See why? Will this leap of faith to paint something I’m 100% uncomfortable with be worth it? Hope. Ultimate challenge with the perspective. I used tape to guide my lines, and I took my time, also something I am not familiar with. I thought I would never finish it. Hope. I wasn’t sure how viewers would interpret this or if the subject matter was worthy of a show, Hope. And truly, all that didn’t matter. I just had to do it, like it haunted me in all the right ways. Will they see that? Hope. This is one piece that I leave to the viewer. What does it speak to you? How does Hope in this place make you feel? And I Hope it gets some message across.”

Wendy Converse’s Baby Bot

“I love simple mechanical devices. As a kid, I would take apart old clocks to figure out how all the gears and levers worked. While my clay robot doesn't have the same movement, I think much of it is inspired by the gears and components I used to play with. This piece is slab built and texturized using hand-made stamps and rollers. The hardest part of the process is getting the timing right to ensure all the parts sync up and dry uniformly to avoid cracking or weak points. Once dry, the piece was fired for several days in the brand new UNC Asheville anagama kiln, which I had the honor of being part of last month.”

Julie Lamp’s Sea Shell

“I have always had a fascination for seashells. I have a large collection, which includes some average 'found on the beach’ shells, as well as some exotics which were purchased in shell shops. Since I am a basket weaver, I thought it would be interesting to weave a basket in the shape of a shell. I borrowed my neighbor’s basketball for a form and used a murex shell as a model. This basket became the inspiration for my solo show titled From the Sea in the Members’ Gallery at the Blue Ridge Arts Center.”

Stan O’Bannon’s Still Standing

“This house was painted from a childhood memory. When I see an old building that’s no longer occupied, I think about how the walls inside the house have heard a lot of conversation and have a lot to say about those who lived here. I hate to see memories lost. My point is not to forget your past and how you got here. I painted this wet on wet then did a lot of dry brush to bring on the details, to make it tighter and more textured.”

For more information about the Hartwell Art Center, visit


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