Jonesboro artist wins Arts Clayton Patron’s Award

‘Travel America’ and ‘Reflection’ exhibits open this weekend

Photo by Jim Massara
Artist Clayton Harris with his winning painting, “The Paddler.”

Photo by Jim Massara Artist Clayton Harris with his winning painting, “The Paddler.”

Clayton Harris of Jonesboro likes to paint. He says it’s relaxing.

His latest acrylic has that calming effect. A man, seen only in silhouette against a sunset, pushes his boat through the water with a single oar. Harris calls it “The Paddler.” Visitors to the opening of Arts Clayton’s “Travel America” exhibit liked it enough to give it the Patron’s Award Friday night.

Harris’s canvas was one of several dozen travel-themed paintings and photos that will be shown at the Jonesboro gallery through June 30. All were created by Georgia artists, many with ties to the Southern Crescent.

Harris studied art education at Virginia State University but is largely self-taught as a painter. After time spent in the military and public schools, he says that this may be his “third career.”

Harris wasn’t the only artist who returned to his passion later in life. Painter Ivonne Santos Ewers of Forest Park, who also has a painting in the show, studied at Pratt Institute, Vermont College, and the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale but had ended up working in retail. She says, though, that she “wasn’t all the way out.” She kept at painting, then decided to share her work with the world.

“I think if you are given a talent you should share it, not for profit or fame, just to share it,” Ewers said. “Otherwise it’s useless if you just keep it on the wall at your home.”

“We do have a houseful, though, if you’d like to stop by,” her husband Rick added with a smile.

Also opening Friday was an exhibit of photos by Anne Walker, anchored by “Childhood Reflections,” which won Best in Show in an exhibit at Arts Clayton last October and was good enough to earn her her own show.

Like Harris and Ewers, Walker came back to photography only after leaving it for awhile, first to study biology at Southern Illinois University, then to raise a family, then to make and sell jewelry.

Four years ago, her fiance, a graphic designer, gave her a Canon Rebel camera, and she never looked back.

“I’ve always loved photography,” Walker says.

Walker says she especially likes working digitally because it saves so much paper. She tweaks her photos only enough to adjust contrast and color, using a Photoshop-equipped computer and the aid of her computer-savvy fiance.

Walker’s exhibit shows through July 27. The Arts Clayton Gallery is located at 136 South Main St., in downtown Jonesboro.