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Art Competition winner featured at Arts Clayton

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

In February, Keith Barnett, of Jonesboro, won Arts Clayton's 2008 Juried Art Competition for his use of acrylic paints and other artistic mediums.

For the entire month of September, 16 of Barnett's works will be on display at the Arts Clayton gallery.

In his featured exhibit entitled, "All Mirth and No Matter," Barnett uses paint, pen and ink, watercolor, and paper cutting, to illustrate various landscapes and portraits. The title of the exhibit, Barnett said, is a personal slogan he developed after he went against the will of teachers who wanted him to pursue concept paintings, rather than landscape.

"In college, they stressed conceptual art over landscape art," said Barnett. "They tried to make me that way and I've never been that way, so it's kind of my motto.

"I like pieces that are nice to look at," added Barnett. He said the majority of his inspiration comes from the forests located around Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, Ga., and High Falls State Park in Jackson, Ga.

On Thursday, about 40 friends, family members, and local artists gathered at Arts Clayton to celebrate the premiere of Barnett's exhibit. His works were praised.

"What I like about it is that there is a wide variety of media," said Charles Walls, a professional painter from Forest Park. "His strong design sense comes through and there is a consistency ... they transcend the media.

"He's very accomplished and he is always exploring new things," Walls continued. "That's very interesting and genuinely unique."

Amy Bodle, an art teacher at Oakland Elementary in McDonough, once taught Barnett art while he attended Henry County High School in McDonough. She said his improvement since high school is exponential.

"He was great in high school and stood out from the other students, but he wasn't doing anything like this," said Bodle. "Because I've know him all these years, it almost brings me to tears. I try to tell people about Keith, but you really have to see it."

Barnett, 33, said his motivation to work across different mediums comes from the fact that he is very easily bored.

"If I do acrylic, I will move on to something else," said Barnett. "It's mostly to keep myself interested. If it becomes monotonous, then it is difficult to paint.

"Hopefully, every bit of this will sell and I will have more money to do more paintings," said Barnett.

For more information about the exhibit, call Arts Clayton at (770) 473-5457.