Chicken Challenge draws on cow creations

By Greg Gelpi

"Eat mor chikin, and create mor art."

Art at Arts Clayton is taking a bovine appearance this month with the annual Chicken Challenge, a contest sponsored by Chick-fil-A for local artists to design art in the spirit of the fast-food chain's "Eat mor chikin" marketing campaign.

Gloria Solly, whose work was chosen by Chick-fil-A Founder and Chairman S. Truett Cathy as the winning piece, found the project different than her usual artwork.

Typically Solly, the president of the Southern Crescent Alliance of Visual Artists, uses watercolors and oils to depict landscapes, portraits, flowers and more. Her winning piece, "Balanced Diet," though, resembled some of the billboards that have come to be a trademark of the fast-food chicken chain.

The piece showed a cow covering a Joe's Beef billboard with its own billboard, one displaying a food pyramid in which all five food groups are chicken.

"I don't do cartoon stuff very often," she said. "This is just fun. The thing about this is to convey a message that is not about great art."

Cathy will hang "Balanced Diet" in his private art collection at Chick-fil-A's headquarters, a tradition of the competition.

The Chicken Challenge is held in conjunction with Arts Clayton's annual student art show, which showcased art from 12 schools in the area in observance of National Student Art Month.

"I think the artwork is tremendous step over last year," Robert Solly said. "I think that the students have really matured."

The "focus" should be on the students and the student artwork, Gloria Solly said.

Winners were Katie Gunter of Landmark Christian Academy, best of show, Stephen Calsbeck of Landmark Christian Academy Arts Clayton Award and third place, Fernando Garcia of Forest Park High School SCAVA Award, Kristan Haner of Landmark Christian Academy first place and Rodrigo Acquirre of Luella High School second place.

"The student show is amazing," Gloria Solly said. "The student show is absolutely amazing."

Clayton County schools Superintendent Barbara Pulliam said she felt an "intense pride" walking in and seeing the student artwork.

"The student artwork exhibited in the hall this evening is quite exquisite," Pulliam said. "Thanks so very much for daring to do what you do."

The Chicken Challenge and student art show will remain on display at Arts Clayton through March. The gallery's exhibits change monthly.