By Shannon Frazeur
The Pine Bluff Art League (PBAL) and the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas (ASC) team up each year to showcase the best of the area’s talent with the Pine Bluff Art League Annual Juried Exhibition.
The 2018 show opens in the Simmons Gallery of the Arts & Science Center on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, with a reception from 5-7 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Prizes will be awarded at 5:30 p.m. for Best in Show; First, Second, and Third Place; and Honorable Mention.
Twenty-five works in painting, photography, and mixed media by 15 PBAL members comprise the show. The artists with works chosen for the exhibition are: Melissa Abernathy, Jimmy Burton, Vickie Coleman, Richard Davies, Gerry DeLongchamp, Linda DeMint, Patrick Edwards, Dell Gorman, Rhonda Holderfield, Jenny Holley, Crystal Jennings, Glenda Mullikin, Inis Ray, Elizabeth Sadler, and Claudia Spainhour.
“It is the most beautiful Pine Bluff Art League Show I’ve ever seen,” ASC Curator Dr. Lenore Shoults said. “The work is just fabulous. It’s going to be a stunning exhibition.”
Melissa Abernathy is the 2018 PBAL Exhibition chair.
Each year, ASC selects an outside juror to choose the pieces for the exhibition and the prize placement. Painter John Kushmaul had the honors for the 2018 exhibition, and was charged with selecting 25 works from the 67 entered.
“I am very impressed with the quality of the work, and appreciate the opportunity to participate as the juror for the show,” Kushmaul said. This was his first time to serve as an exhibition juror, he said.
“I’d encourage everyone who entered a piece to keep producing art. There were numerous tough calls as I narrowed down the field to 25,” he said.
Kushmaul lives in Little Rock but is a former White Hall resident. He lived in the Jefferson County city from 1983 to 1990, and from 1995 to 2004, he said.
His subjects are often city scenes with varied architecture — many of them recognizable buildings and sites from Little Rock and Jefferson County. “There have been several pictures based on Pine Bluff scenes in the mix from the beginning.”
Kushmaul will be at the reception to speak and award the prizes.
The Pine Bluff Art League — currently at 39 members — meets the first Sunday of the month and conducts workshops for its members, PBAL President Vickie Coleman said. She led the most recent workshop, which was on acrylic pouring. They also host guest artists from outside the area to teach.
PBAL members also teach at the Shepherd Center at Lakeside United Methodist Church, with fall classes beginning Sept. 12.
The PBAL artists extend their talents and reach out to help children in the community. One of their projects is an annual art exhibition for middle-school students called “Top of the Middle,” of which Coleman said she is very proud. All children in Jefferson County can enter, and teachers may submit 10 works from each school, Coleman explained. PBAL then hosts a reception at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Services Center to recognize each student and award prizes.
“The children get really excited and they do wonderful work,” Coleman said. “We are always pleasantly surprised. The art exhibition is a way of encouraging them to continue to do art.”
The art league began another project his year. “We give an art backpack to every child who is new to the foster care system in Jefferson County,” Coleman explained. “We call it an art appreciation bag. It is full of art supplies and the ladies have painted small pictures, and there is a letter in there saying that is is done especially for them. And we put a book in there. The children have been appreciative of these.”
The present-day version of the Pine Bluff Art League was established in 1994, Coleman said. Previously, the organization was known as the Brush and Pallet Guild.
Those interesting in learning more about the Pine Bluff Art League are encouraged to call Coleman at 870-879-3825.
“We’d love to have more members,” Coleman said.
The Pine Bluff Art League Juried Exhibition exhibition will be on display through Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018.