By Joel Hall
Earlier this week, art enthusiasts from around the Southern Crescent gathered to honor several talented local artists and kick off Arts Clayton's most diverse art exhibition of the year.
The opening reception for the 8th Annual Fine Art Juried Show took place on Thursday, where several local artists were awarded cash prizes and given the chance to display their work in the 2nd Annual Arts Clayton Arté Gras.
The Arté Gras, a black-tie, Mardi Gras-themed, fine-art sale and raffle, will take place at Eagles Landing Country Club in Stockbridge on Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. The event will feature a cocktail buffet, musical entertainment by dance-and-show band, Party Nation, as well as a chance to win the event's signature piece, "The 55 Selmer Sax," by artist Doug Smith.
This year's art show featured two-dimensional and three dimensional art created with a variety of mediums, from oil to acrylic to paper, and metal. The artists, as well as the art displayed, demonstrated the diversity of the Southern Crescent, said Arts Clayton Assistant Manager Peggy Brooks.
"It's very eclectic," said Brooks. "The different mediums we received, it was very hard for the judges to make a decision. There were only a few points between the [artists] who won and the ones who didn't."
Keith Barnett, of Jonesboro, took away "best of show" for his acrylic painting entitled, "Hulka, Mississippi," which he painted while visiting a friend there in Autumn of 2006. Trained in oil painting since 1990, Barnett developed an allergy to oil-based paints several years ago, which forced him to learn how to work in an entirely new medium.
"I was trained in oils for about seven years before I became allergic to it," said Barnett. "Learning acrylic paint has taken me another seven years. I'm just now starting to get some really good results."
Traditional acrylic paint dries quickly and creates art which is photo-realistic. Barnett employs a new kind of slow-drying acrylic paint which mimics the textures of oil paint. This allows the painting to "capture life," but still "look like a painting," Barnett said.
Jerushia Graham, a full-time artist and substitute teacher from Jonesboro, took second place, and an honorable mention, for her works "Not Without Laughter," and "Waiting #5," respectively.
A graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Graham completed her works using only different pieces of colored paper and an exacto knife.
"You always hope that you are going to win, especially not seeing what's in the show," said Graham. "It always feels good to have the art out where people can respond to it. I hope people can make a connection on a human level with my work."
Cheryl Myrbo, a graduate of the Atlanta College of Art and one of the show's judges, said the exhibition was one of the most daring adult exhibitions she has judged.
"I find that adults tend to rest on their laurels, so they are usually afraid to try new things," said Myrbo. "This show demonstrated a lot of people stretching a bit and trying new things. This didn't seem like a show where you put things in just to try to sell them, and I think that's a good thing."
Art from the 8th Annual Fine Art Juried Show will be on display at Arts Clayton throughout the month of February. Call (770) 473-5457, for more information.