Art League members bring home awards

Johnson City Press • Jul 15, 2018 at 5:30 AM

Northeast Tennessee has some accomplished artists, and now they have the awards to prove it.

At the Watauga Valley Art League’s annual Judged Art Show, currently on display along with its Member Show at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, 12 members came away with accolades.

Judge Spencer Brenner from East Tennessee State University’s Reese Museum considered 34 works of art from 18 artists and selected a dozen for recognition.

“It was such a high quality level of work, one of the highest we’ve ever had at one of our shows,” Art League treasurer Barbara Jernigan said Thursday. “We have some pretty well-known members from our area who win awards. A number of us are exhibiting members of the Tennessee Watercolor Society.”

The Watercolor Society is a statewide nonprofit dedicated to elevating watercolor painting as a culturally important medium. To become exhibiting members, artists must submit and have pieces accepted into the group’s biennial exhibitions.

Jernigan said the multiple Watauga Valley Art League members accepted into the prestigious state society showed the outstanding caliber of artists living in the region.

Jernigan herself won the Urban Bird Award in the show for her painting “Bellas.”

The work depicts daffodils and tulips in a green vase under a lamp. Jernigan took a photo of the flower display this spring in her own home. She said she moved to Tennessee from Florida more than a decade ago, partly to be able to grow the spring flowers in her own yard. In Florida, the climate is unsuitable for them.

To paint it, she used a new technique she learned this year for painting more realistic pieces.

The award Jernigan received was named after the late Urban Bird, a celebrated local artist who taught community art classes for decades, giving many of the Art League’s members their appreciation for art.

The league’s show has three memorial awards. Including the one for Bird, awards are also given in memory of Nyela Cohoon, a past league president who contributed money to the group, and Sharon Neuhaus, whose depictions of poultry are easily recognizable.

Artist Ken Doak won the Neuhaus Award for his painting “Choices,” which shows the point of view of a texting driver as a large truck bears down on him on a collision course. The painting included a frame with a single candle in memorial of distracted drivers killed on roadways.

Other show winners were:

• Award of Excellence, Ken Simmelink, “Ghost Stories.”
• Award of Excellence, Linda Loffmin, “Poppyfest.”
• Award of Excellence, Glenna Elsea, “Skull With Eggs.”
• Best of Show, Barbara Jake Wilson, “Spring Green.”
• Second Place, Thomas White, “Hey, Crawdad!”
• Third Place, Mabe Collins-Brown, “Skins.”
• Honorable Mention, Judy O’Hara, “The Owl.”
• Honorable Mention, Bob Blevins, “Charleston.”
• Honorable Mention, Angie Shepherd, “Smalling Road Barn.”
• Nyela Cohoon Award, Judy Cable, “Root Cellar.”
• Sharon Neuhaus Award, Ken Doak, “Choices.”
• Urban Bird Award, Barbara Jernigan, “Bellas.”

The paintings, along with others in the Judged and Member art shows, will be on display in the park’s visitors center until July 29. The center is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 1-4:30 p.m.

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