Markeith Woods’ large acrylic painting titled “Faith without Works is Dead” dominated the horizontal landscape created by the 37 pieces of the Pine Bluff Art League’s annual juried competition on display in the Kennedy Gallery at the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas.
Judy Barrett, competition chairman, said league members submitted 76 entries for judging by this year’s juror David Mudrinich, Arkansas Tech University associate art professor.
The members-only competition was open to several fine arts disciplines, including painting, sculpture, drawing and photography.
Mudrinich based his selections on craftsmanship, content, composition, color and creativity. First, second and third places, and Best of Show and four honorable mentions were unveiled at the Aug. 8 reception.
“It was a pleasure to see the number and variety of artists actively engaged in pursuing their creative vision in Pine Bluff, Mudrinich said. “The quality in the art reveals their personal commitment to each of the works. It is always difficult selecting from such a wide field of entries into a select few for exhibit.”
Woods, an art major at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, took Best of Show for his piece, “Faith Without Works is Dead,” and said after the announcement that his acrylic painting was inspired by his grandmother Jewel Edwards of Pine Bluff.
Before he was born, Edwards survived colon cancer and she’s now battling lymphoma. Woods is inspired by her strength and said he wanted to capture it on canvas.
“It’s beautiful and a lot of hard work went into the it,”Edwards said.
Woods said he was surprised and pleased with the recognition, as well as the $300 check that came with the honor.
Mudrinich admired his piece.
“I was taken by the expressive use of color, the structural quality of the figure and the variety of elements used to create the narrative and design,” Mudrinich said.
Linda Lewis took first place for her oil portrait, titled “Adam,” of Adam Robinson Jr. of Pine Bluff.
“This work demonstrates a clean, technically proportioned portrait with the refreshing, casual pose of a professional,” Mudrinich said.
Robinson was there for the announcement.
“Miss Lewis’ portrait is more handsome than reality,” he joked before saying, “She did a great job. Oh, I love it.”
A first place win was worth $150.
Barbara Owen earned a second place win for her ink, watercolor and pastel piece, “Ridgway Pond.” It’s based on a photograph she took on Ridgway Road.
“The line work in this piece is expressive, reminding me of the textures within nature, and provides a nice contrast with the broader washes of color. The work creates a personal connection to a sense of place,” Mudrinich said.
Owen said she has been painting since 1979. She has won a few awards and had a painting accepted into Pastel Society of the Southwest.
“It didn’t win but it was an honor,” she said.
“Either-Or,” by Richard Davies took third place, with Mudrinich saying, “I found this work both intriguing in design and beautiful in color. It seems to suggest an ethereal passageway, balancing between warm and cool colors.”
“Very cool,” Davies said after ASC curator and exhibit moderator Courtney Taylor announced his win.
The enamel and ink piece earned Davies $50.
Honorable mentions went to Janet Peebles for her acrylic piece, “Egret;” to Claudia Spainhour for her pastel, “Off the Dock;” to Jessie Findley for her digital print, “A Natural Birth;” and to Linda Lewis for her acrylic, “Study in Blue.”
Barrett said the exhibition, many of the pieces are available for purchase, will remain on view until Saturday, Sept. 28, and was done in conjunction with ASC.
Because of the close relationship between the Pine Bluff Art League and ASC, the center at 701 S. Main St. annually hosts the event, Barrett said.
It was Taylor’s first Art League showing and she said the hardest part was not knowing the size and shapes of the pieces beforehand and having a only a short time to ready the gallery for the reception.
“I didn’t know what was coming,” but Taylor said she had the exhibit — pieces hung and labeled — up and ready to go in about a day.
Of course, that doesn’t include planning, organizing and coordinating the project, she said.
“We’re happy with the job that Courtney (Taylor) did,” Barrett said. “It looks impressive and she’s great to work with.”
For UAPB archeologist and author John H. House and his wife, Yelena, the exhibit and reception was a chance to study Southeast Arkansas talent.
“I’m always impressed by the work,” House said as he stood in front of his favorite, Belinda Lawson’s “Aunt Evelyn’s Grandma Lee Etta.”
He said he appreciated the vibrant colors and the subject that is reminiscent of the past, and that he rarely misses any exhibits at ASC.
An open invitation
The Pine Bluff Art League has been around since the 1940s, and it started as The Brush and Palette Guild but the name was changed in 1992.
According to its literature, its mission is the “study and practice of all elements of fine art, the promotion of exhibitions sponsored by the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, as well as other Art League exhibitions, and finally, the support of community interest in and appreciation for art.”
An annual membership is $30, with members encouraged to take advantage of the art league’s studio space at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Services Center, 211 W. Third Ave.
Also, the Lunch Bunch Group meets each Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., and monthly meetings are the first Sunday of each month. These also meet at the community center.
For more information about membership or activities, to go: www.pinebluffartleague.org. Currently, it has more than 100 members and Barrett said there’s room for more.
The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Saturday from 1 until 4 p.m. Details: Call 536-3375 or go to: firstname.lastname@example.org.