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Lawson, Brophy, Leady Take Top Awards in AAG Member Show

The 2024 Anderson Artists Guild Membership Show opened on June 21 at the Anderson Arts Center. It will run through Aug. 8. The juror was Jer Nelsen of Anderson University.


An exhibit in the atrium showcased the paintings of Diana Gilham, former AAG president, who died earlier this year. Several merit awards were also given in her memory.


There were 58 members in the show: Teresa Anderson, Elaine Bailey, Mishelle Barnett, Sandra Bates, Sara Bates, Evelyn Beck, Patti Benjamin, Larry Bennett, Matthew Brophy, Wesley Allen Carr, Sue Cheney, Barbara Crown, George Crown, Melody Davis, Cindy Elder, Marion Fanning, Jane Friedman, Myrl Garment, Carolyn Gibson, Linda Gordon, Andrea Harper, Kathe Harris, Jennifer Hawkins, Dawn Hayden, Sally Hunter, Craig Johnson, Julie Lamp, Den Latham, Chet Lawson, Sara Leady, Jane List, Hamed Mahmoodi, Alison Mays, Mary McAlister, Terri McCord, Hilary Lefebvere McCurley, Brenda McLean, Simeyon Mendez, Kathy Moore, Al Morris, Vicki Mountz, Wesa Neely, Donna O’Hara, Kate Salley Palmer, Yvonne Park, Hershal Pearson, Mary Anne Porter, Karen Powell, Ray Richards, Polly Richardson, Diann Simms, Tim Simpson, Lori Solymosi, Carol Spencer, Armi Tuorila, Patricia Walker, Diana Walter, and Sue West.


Eighteen members received awards. The $750 first-place award went to Chet Lawson for Saturday Afternoon at the Mills (oil). The $500 second-place award went to Matthew Brophy for Incandescent Direction (ceramics). The $300 third-place award went to Sara Leady for RTK (mixed media).


A $250 merit award was given to Lori Solymosi for Three Muses, Gorky, Pablo and Willem (mixed media). Three merit awards of $200 each went to Elaine Bailey for Life After Death (fiber sculpture), Evelyn Beck for Through Good Times and Bad (fiber), and Den Latham for El Rastro del Gato (oil).


Merit awards of $100 each were given to Redbird (oil) by Hilary Lefebvere McCurley, Coastal Morning (photography) by Larry Bennett, Untitled (acrylic) by Armi Tuorila, Floral Panes (watercolor) by Polly Richardson, Omens of Prosperity (mixed media) by Diana Walter, Spring Delight (oil) by Cindy Elder, Roof Views--Paris (watercolor/ink) by Diann Simms, Sunset Revival (photography) by Craig Johnson, Flying High (photography) by Wesley Allen Carr, A Day in Flanders Field (oil) by Chet Lawson, and Sunlight (mixed media) by Mary McAlister.


Special thanks to those who donated for merit awards: Barbara Ervin, Sue West, Sue and Philip Cheney, Polly Richardson, Vicki Mountz, Dawn Hayden, Mary McAlister, Barbara Crown, Chet Lawson, Diann Simms, Jane Friedman, Evelyn Beck, the family of Diana Gilham, and the Anderson Arts Center. One member who donated prefers to remain anonymous.


Thanks also to those who helped with intake: Linda Gordon, Carrie Gibson, Diann Simms, Tim Simpson, Elaine Bailey, Carol Spender, Patti Benjamin, Teresa Anderson, Mary McAlister, Armi Tuorila, Bill Therrot, Barbara Crown, George Crown, Myrl Garment, Aubrey Coffee, Evelyn Beck, and Chet Lawson.


Here are reflections on their pieces by the top three award winners:


Saturday Afternoon at the Mills (oil) by Chet Lawson (first place)


“This painting, the first in a series of works, is based on the Central Roller Mills located in Central, SC. I have always been fascinated by this group of old buildings that date back to the early 1900’s, especially the rusty aged patina present on many of the structures. I began photographing the location two years ago in preparation for this series.


“I took the liberty of eliminating many elements (utility poles, lines and road signs, etc.) because they detracted from bold, almost abstract composition of strong horizontal and vertical elements. I also eliminated or simplified certain elements (brick masonry and porch railings) from the building while enhancing others (windows) to create a more interesting subject.


“The greatest challenge in painting this piece was deciding on my palette. In the end, I chose a warm overall range of colors that contrasted nicely with all the cool metal siding and roofs. This along with a very bold pattern of shadows created a lot of push and pull. It’s very engaging for the viewer, familiar and somehow comfortable.”


Incandescent Direction (ceramics) by Matthew Brophy (second place)


“My vision was to throw a large, wide and fully open bowl. This is where my canvas is born, on the potter’s wheel. I started with 15 pounds of speckled brownstone clay. It’s a tan-speckled clay that has a beautiful sheen when fired to cone 6. Everything went well on the wheel. When trimmed I allowed it to dry for 2 weeks before bisque firing. One of the problems that can occur with big bowls is the bottoms can crack easily during the drying stage. The result was a very light bowl just over 19 inches in diameter after bisque. The bottom was unusually thin so I didn’t give it an inside foot, just a flat bottom which went unsigned in the clay.

“I glazed 4 bowls in a row, saving this one for last as it was the best of the bunch. It took just over 30 hours to glaze with several glazes being experimental. The final size after glaze firing was just a hair under 18 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep.

“The yellow glaze around the rim and a secondary ring of the same glaze under it were a complete surprise. I didn’t expect the glaze to have texture and its own speckling. It took me a while to warm up to it. The red accent by the secondary yellow ring was an impulse add that worked great! Sometimes it’s the little last-minute tweaks that can make a piece ‘pop.’“The bottom of my stoneware bowls are my trademark signature. This one was detailed and interesting. A last-minute addition of a light green melon glaze (turned yellow where I applied it) inside the pedals gave them the appearance of incandescent lights.

“Naming pottery for shows is always very difficult. Pottery usually doesn’t have a subject, so you’re left with interpreting what the design looks like to you. In this case it looked to me like directionally oriented lights pointing to different places on a compass. Thus I named it Incandescent Direction.”

RTK (mixed media) by Sara Leady (third place)


“It's maybe a bit embarrassing, but this piece is actually pretty inspired by Taylor Swift. RTK means ‘real tough kid’ which is a song lyric from her latest album. It's been a bit of a roller coaster year for me which has me ruminating on my history, the distance I've traveled, and the battles I've fought to get here (yay therapy!). I've been playing around with my brand new larger gelli plate and trying out different techniques for working with gelli plates and image transfer, and this print in its original form was purely the result of playing. I actually had a completely different piece almost ready to go for the show when I kept getting pulled back to this print. I decided that if the print was going to keep screaming at me, I better find out what it wanted.


“There were some paint remnants left on the plate before I pulled this image that had flecks of that awesome turquoise popping through, so I started thinking about how I could pull that color in while also amplifying what was already present. I decided to use that turquoise to mess a bit with the weight of the composition while also playing with color contrast to try to pull a Rothko and make all the colors shift depending on the angle and area you were looking at. It was super fun wrapping the graffiti around the edges and fading out the layers over each other to add more nuance. I'd call it a heart piece in the way it spoke to me and the general process and joy with finishing it up. I'm rarely too attached to a piece to sell it, but this piece and the process of making it both captured where I've been, where I’m currently at, and where I want to go.


“Naturally I jammed to Swift (and others) while working on it.”


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Next week, read about the top four merit award winners.


For a list of all entries in the show, see the link at


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