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West Alabama Juried Art Show highlights local artists

Caroline Watt

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Tucked inside Tuscaloosa’s iconic Bama Theatre is the Junior League Art Gallery, where various local artists will soon display work in the Art Council’s 31st Annual West Alabama Juried Art Show.

The show was established in 1985 by Gail Skidmore to highlight the talent of local visual artists. Publicist for the Art Council, Kevin Ledgewood said the first purchase award winner was Keyser Wilson, who is now Associate Professor of Art at Stillman College.

“The show has changed slightly through the years,” Ledgewood said. “Partially by an increase in prize money plus the expansion of the geographic area from which entries are accepted, from Tuscaloosa County to neighboring counties in West Alabama.”

The contest was open to participants residing in eleven counties of West Alabama. Exhibit dates are November 2nd through December 15th. The artwork is being showcased in the gallery above the Bama Theatre. Awards included a $750 purchase award, $300 cash award, and three $100 awards of excellence.

The judge for the contest was local artist Caleb O’Connor. Art Council Education Director, Sharron Rudowski said there are several criteria a judge may use to determine the winners.

“They may consider composition, treatment of color and value, technique or skill in the medium used, presentation of the art and originality of content,” Rudowski said.

Charlotte Wegrzynowski was the best of show winner. Wegrzynowski said she has had an interested in art all of her life. She said it started when her parents took her to see an art museum when she was a young girl.

“My piece is an exploration of my feelings about time, faith and memory,” Wegrzynowski said.  “I find the mood to be contemplative.” 

Wegrzynowski’s purchase award entry will be added to the gallery’s permanent collection. 

Artist contestant, LaShonda Scott Robinson said she has been painting since she was a teenager. In 2005 she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which impaired her fine motor skills. She was still able to paint. She said that is why she started Scott Robinson Designs. It is a venue to exhibit her work and share her story.

“When I heard about the West Alabama Art Show, I thought it would be a great opportunity to have more of my work showcased,” Robinson said.

Robinson said art was a hobby she had as a kid that turned into something more. She said her inspiration comes from women in the bible as well as her mother-in-law.

“I always try to capture the mystic and beauty of women,” Robinson said. “Women are my favorite muse.”

Rudowski has been working with the art show for the past five years. She said next year she expects entry numbers to increase. Competition information will be included in the Art Council’s e-newsletters and on their website and Facebook page through press release. A closing reception will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 15th from 5:30 to 7pm to honor the contestants. The public is invited to attend.

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West Alabama Juried Art Show highlights local artists