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Wentzell, Hunt, O'Hara Take Top Awards in Member Show

The Anderson Artists Guild 2023 Member Show opened with a reception on Oct. 20 at the Anderson Artists Center and will run through Nov. 22.

Seventy-three members have 135 pieces in the show: Members in the show are Shea Abramo, Teresa Anderson, Nancy Anna, Peggy Arnett, Elaine Bailey, Sandra Bates, Evelyn Beck, Patti Benjamin, Pamela Brock, Matt Brophy, Debbie Bzdyl, Sue Cheney, Aubrey Coffee, George Crown, Diane DeMont, Nathan DePue, Sherron Dorris-Fergason, Cindy Elder, Marion Fanning, Alice Franzella, Myrl Garment, Carolyn Gibson, Diana Gilham, Edith Hamblin, Andrea Harper, Kathe Harris, Jennifer Hawkins, Dawn Hayden, Fred Helk, Mary Ann Horn, Pamela Hunt, Tommy Hunt, Sally Hunter, Sharon Jacobs, Craig Johnson, Robert Kemp, Laurie King, Julie Lamp, Chet Lawson, David Locke, Hamed Mahmoodi, Alison Mays, Mary McAlister, Terri McCord, Brenda McLean, Simeyon Mendez, Beckey Miller, Kathy Moore, Al Morris, Vicki Mountz, Wesa Neely, Stan O’Bannon, Kathy Ogden, Donna O’Hara, Yvonne Park, Hershal Pearson, Mary Anne Porter, Karen Powell, Lou Rainey, Ray Richards, Nancy Roberts, Gloria Root, Diann Simms, Annie Skakun, Alan Smith, Lori Solymosi, Carol Spencer, Armi Tuorila, John Urban, Patricia Walker, Diana Walter, Leslie Wentzell, Andrea Williams.

The juror was Jo Carol Mitchell-Rogers.

Fifteen members won awards. Leslie Wentzell took the $750 First Place Award for Rumors Gather Like Crows (ceramic and yarn). Tommy Hunt won the $500 Second Place Award for Dawn’s Early Light (colored pencil). Donna O’Hara won the $300 Third Place Award for A Gray Day (pastel).

Twelve merit awards were given out. Evelyn Beck won the $250 Friends of the Guild merit award for Rice Field (fiber). Lori Solymosi won the $200 merit award from The Critique Group in memory of Jose Acaba for Jose (mixed media). And $100 merit awards went to Terri McCord for Boccilemonball, Wesa Neely for View of Sorrento, Chet Lawson for The Red Brush, George Crown for Bobby’s Tug, Craig Johnson for Climbing towards Heaven, Kathy Moore for Jack, Matt Brophy for Forested Blues, Hamed Mahmoodi for Balance, Shea Abramo for Home, and Simeyon Mendez for Spire Cove.

Thanks to those who donated for the merit awards: Elaine Bailey, Evelyn Beck, Philip and Sue Cheney, Barbara Crown, Cindy Elder, Diana Gilham, Myrl Garment, Carolyn Gibson, Dawn Hayden, Alice Franzella, Kathe Harris, Chet Lawson, Mary McAlister, Diann Simms, Sue and Jerry West, Sylvia Woodall, and the Anderson Arts Center.

Thanks also to members who helped at intake: Elaine Bailey, Evelyn Beck, Patti Benjamin, Aubrey Coffee, Myrl Garment, Carrie Gibson, Linda Gordon, Chet Lawson, Mary McAlister, Vicki Mountz, Wesa Neely, Johnny Roberts, Diann Simms, Carol Spencer, and Bill and Armi Tuorila.

Below are reflections by the top five winners on their pieces. Reflections from the rest of the winners will appear in next week’s blog.

Leslie Wentzell’s Rumors Gather Like Crows (ceramic and yarn): $750 First Place Award

“I read the phrase ‘rumors gather like crows’ in a book and was struck with a vision of a ‘murder’ of crows landing en masse on a figure—loudly chattering and spreading their rumors from one to another. As I worked on the piece, the idea came to me to use yarn or string as a visual reference to the viral nature of rumor and how it enmeshes both the target and the participants. I like to use animals and specifically birds in my sculptures, allowing them to tell a story or convey meaning similar to the way animals are used to teach lessons in fables. I also frequently add elements in relief on the surfaces of my work and have done that with the three crows on the back side of the piece, but I felt that three-dimensional crows lend a more potent presence. The challenge became how to securely mount the birds in dynamic positions—but then clay is always a challenge! And finding the perfect yarn was surprisingly more difficult than I had imagined.”

Tommy Hunt’s Dawn’s Early Light (colored pencil): $500 Second Place Award

“I grew up in an alcoholic home. My father was an alcoholic, and my childhood was marred with devastating episodes due to my father's drinking. My granddaughter Shannen, the subject of this portrait, shared a similar situation earlier in her very young life, suffering an alcohol-related car accident with her mother at the age of 2 (she and her mother were okay) and a broken home the following year. We may not be aware of—or willfully ignore—the hurt our actions can cause, and this was the motivation behind the creation of Dawn's Early Light. Ideas for my works generally come to me all at once, and this was the case with this drawing as I was looking through photographs I took of my granddaughter. Her expressions gave me the idea and the title. Done on black paper using colored pencils, working dark to light, the image was built on gradual layers of colored values. One of the biggest challenges, oddly enough, was gathering and arranging the liquor bottles. Thanks to donations from friends, I made multiple arrangements of them on a table, finally settling on what you see. It was tricky. This drawing took me several weeks to complete.”

Donna O’Hara’s A Gray Day (pastel): $300 Third Place Award

“This was painted plein air on Madeline Island in Wisconsin. It was a gray day and had been raining, so that made it crazy with pastels. I had to capture the scene quickly because if you get water spots, you have to rework the piece. My vantage point was above the marsh, so I could see into the distance—that was the intrigue of it. And though marshes are always green, I was challenged by a friend not to use greens. I used some but not many, and the lack of color made it atmospheric.”

Evelyn Beck’s Rice Field (fiber): $250 Friends of the Guild Merit Award

“I am drawn to landscapes with people working—their difficult labors create a beautiful, pastoral ballet when viewed from a distance. (I can think of so many such paintings I’ve enjoyed studying over the years by artists like Van Gogh, Monet, Pissarro, and Gaugin.) However, I’ve struggled to realize such settings myself through fiber art. It’s difficult to portray what is going on with fabric—to give just enough detail to capture both the environment and the individuals. Somehow I managed to do that here—perhaps because I reduced the composition to simple shapes for shadows, water, plants, sky, and people and because I restrained myself by leaving plenty of sky as negative space. Another challenge of this piece was to separate the individuals from each other and to occasionally use the wrong side of the fabric to give dimension to their clothing. It was kind of like dressing paper dolls and was ultimately my favorite part of the process.”

Lori Solymosi’s Jose (mixed media): $200 Merit Award from The Critique Group in memory of Jose Acaba

“I met Jose Acaba in about 2004 when another artist, Liz Smith Cox, invited me to a life drawing group. Several of us met Monday mornings for years, first at the Belton Center for the Arts and then at the Anderson Art Center. He and I would create the set-ups together using props and lighting. A couple years ago when Jose’s wife Julia passed away, Jose joined the critique group I’ve been a member of for over a decade. We have monthly challenges, and Jose would always impart his wisdom on composition and value. Earlier this year Jose gave the challenge of a black and white portrait. I could not think of a better subject than Jose himself; the source was one of the several photos I had been taking of him at our critique groups. Honoring his love for charcoal, I intended to create his portrait in that medium but soon added inks, acrylic, watercolor and powdered graphite to create this portrait. At the time I was very cognizant that he was slipping away and intentionally chose to leave some areas more ethereal and some more defined. Jose never got to see the portrait in person, but I did show him a photo of it and he was pleased.”

Read next week’s blog for part 2 of this article.


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