Awards announced for 32nd annual Juried Artist’s Exhibit

PICKENS — The Pickens County Cultural Commission held the 32nd annual Pickens County Museum of Art & History’s Juried South Carolina Artist’s Exhibition reception and awards ceremony last Saturday.
The exhibition is on view until June 9.
Curator of the Asheville Art Museum since 1990, Frank Thomson served as juror for this year’s competition. Prior to Asheville, Thompson was executive director of the Wilkes Art Gallery in North Wilkesboro, N.C., and before that director of the Upstairs ArtSpace in Tryon, N.C.
Art critic for the Asheville “Citizen-Times” from 1990 to 1996, he has also written for “Art Papers,”, the “Arts Journal,” “Art Vu” and the “New Art Examiner,” as well as numerous exhibition catalogs. He has taught photography, art history and museum studies at the University of South Carolina, the University of Florida, Converse College, UNC-Asheville, Mars Hill College and Wilkes Community College. Thomson holds his bachelor’s degree in art from the University of South Carolina and an MFA from the University of Florida.
Thompson spent the day of April 8 looking at and contemplating 360 works of art representing 196 South Carolina artisans. The vast array of paintings, drawings, photographs, prints, ceramics, fiber and other mediums made for the difficult task of selecting works for, and eliminating works from, the final show. The impressive final selection of 134 works of art represents 123 individuals currently creating visual art in this state.
“A juried exhibition is a curious thing, particularly for the artists,” Thompson said. “There are great expectations at the beginning, often followed by disappointment after the results are announced. For a juror there are a couple of pitfalls. One is to curate, rather than jury, an exhibition. Another is the number of works selected. This is based on the exhibition space and not the quality of the work entered. Be generous and the exhibition is so crowded that it is difficult to view individual works. Too strict and otherwise worthy art may be left out.
“I have had the privilege of serving as a juror for a number of exhibitions over the years. In this role I try to bring to bear my experiences as an artist, a curator, an educator and an art lover. Before selecting work for an exhibition I try to get a feel for the art that has been entered. In selecting work my goal is to select the strongest pieces from those entered. For me there are three elements that I look for in a work of art: an understanding of craft, a demonstration of skill and a sense of imagination. The meaning of these things may vary depending on the media and the style the artist has chosen.”
The awards for this year’s competition represent not only a cross section of what is taking place in the visual arts of South Carolina today, but are also a fair representation of the variety of artists actively at work. Thompson chose collectively for the marker, ink & watercolor works, “Bog Hollow” & “The Mineral Extractor” by Easley’s Kendon Oates as the first place award. Second place was presented to Lee Sipe of Columbia for her copper wire woven, “Vessel No. 199.” The third-place honor went to Greenville’s Michael McDunn for his curly maple wood, “Console Table.”
Honorable mentions were bestowed upon Janet F. Rodgers of Travelers Rest for her oil painting, “Krystal” and to Clemson’s Sam Wang for his palladium/cyanotype photograph, “Night Bloomers.”
In addition to the above awards, Williams asked that a special “Juror’s Choice” accolade, denoting artwork of special interest, be presented to: Warren Carpenter of Seneca for his wood turned work, “12155 Walnut”; to Easley’s Steven Chapp for his linocut relief print,  “Reactive”; to Jim Creal of Spartanburg for his lithographic print, “Pritchards Island: Mystic Wood”; to Columbia’s Colin Dodd for the oil painting,  “John Ford in Monument Valley”; to J. Michael Johnson of Taylors for his photograph, “Tree 0456”; to Travelers Rest’s Steve Marlow for his photograph, “Virginia Hawkins Falls”; to Nancy Oppenheimer of Seneca for her pastel “Another Stormy Day”; to Maxine Riley of Greenville for her gourd with basketry piece, “Amber Eye”; to Susan Watson of Seneca for her oil painting, “The Beloved”; and to Anderson Wrangle of Clemson for his toned silver gelatin photograph, “Limb / French Door (interruption #26)I”.
The Museum’s Director, Allen Coleman chose the cut denim work, “Yvette & Ansley” by Jim Arendt of Columbia as the recipient of the 2011 Director’s Choice commendation.
Thanks to the sponsorships of Pickens County & the Pickens County Cultural Commission along with Doreen Heimlich, Larissa Heimlich, Shirley Sarlin, Ellen Kochansky, Dan & Kathy Brazinski, Philip & Gilda Hendricks, John & Judy Rozelle and the Susan B. Benjamin Memorial Fund, the Pickens County Museum selected nine works that, within the scope of their mission directive, will be added to the museum’s permanent collection.
The Pickens County Cultural Commission’s Purchase Award honoring Shirley Sarlin was presented to Colin Dodd of Columbia for his oil painting, “John Ford in Monument Valley.”
In addition to the 22 works of art singled out for special mention, there are 112 others on the walls and pedestals throughout the museum’s Sealevel Gallery, G-1 Gallery and Focus Gallery.
The Pickens County Museum of Art & History is funded in part by Pickens County, friends and members of the museum and a grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The 2011 Susan B. Benjamin Memorial Purchase Award was presented to Steve Marlow of Travelers Rest for his photograph, “Virginia Hawkins Falls”. A Pickens County Cultural Commission Purchase Award in Memory of Susan Benjamin went to John Urban of Anderson for his oil painting, “Appalachian Shadows.”
The 2011 Seth Schafer Heimlich Memorial Purchase Award was presented to Jim Creal of Spartanburg for his Lithograph, “Pritchards Island: Mystic Wood”. A Pickens County Cultural Commission Purchase Award in Memory of Seth Heimlich went to Pendleton’s Sydney A. Cross for her lithograph & screenprint, “Update”.
A Purchase Award in Honor of Evelyn Kochansky was presented to Alan S. Weinberg of Taylors for his photograph, “White Orchid”.
Additional Museum Purchase Awards were made to Greenville’s Kent Ambler for his woodcut print, “Another Late Night”; to Cindy Landrum of Pelzer for her photograph, “Forgotten Lesson”; and to Greenwood’s Bob Taft for his stoneware ceramic piece, “Antelopes”.

Located at the corner of Hwy. 178 at 307 Johnson Street in Pickens SC, the museum is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Admission is free but donations are welcomed. For more information call the museum at (864) 898-5963.