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Area artists show work in Delta Exhibit

By Carol Rolf

This article was published November 2, 2008 at 3:09 a.m.

— Two artists in the Three Rivers area have work on display in the 51st annual Delta Exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock. Their work may be seen through Sunday, Nov. 16, in the atrium, Sam Strauss Sr. and Stella Boyle Smith galleries of the arts center.

Three Rivers artists include Margaret Harrell of Mountain View with a gouache she calls The World Outside My Box and Dusty Mitchell of Mountain View with a piece made of aluminum, wood and paint that he calls Hurdle.

Eleana Del Rio, director of Koplin Del Rio Gallery in Culver City, Calif., served as the juror for the exhibition. She selected 58 works by 56 artists from 469 entries.

Although this is not the first time for Harrell to have her work accepted for the Delta, she said, "I am honored to have my painting in the Delta. It has always been a very exiting and stimulating show."

Harrell grew up in Dallas. She is a graduate of Harding University with a bachelor's degree in art. She and her husband, Reggie, have three grown daughters and now live just outside the Ozark National Forest.

She is active in her church, a local quilt group and has been painting professionally for more than 40 years.

Harrell participates in variousregional art shows each year, in addition to selling her artwork locally and out of state. This spring she will be involved in a mission trip to Honduras where she will paint murals for local churches.

"As I look back on my artwork over the years, I suppose it has been a way of charting this life's journey," Harrell said in a statement. "I painted sweeping landscapes of Colorado when traveling, Victorian houses when I felt thankful for my family, bikers' conventions when I craved adventure and injected whimsy into still lifes when life was humorous.

"My art has been an expression of various experiences, my way of processing the beauty, joy and sometimes pain around me. It is such a blessing to have this outlet, a way of expressing my journey to the world. Creating art for the last 40 years has been just that for me, a documentary of my life."

Mitchell teaches art in the Mountain View School District and at Ozarka College. This is the second year in a row for his work to be included in the Delta exhibit.

He received a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture from Michigan State University and a Bachelorof Fine Arts degree in studio art from Arkansas State University. He also was a visiting student in the Master of Arts Program in sculpture at Wimbledon School of Art in London.

Mitchell's artist statement reads, in part: "I consider my work to be relevant in a variety of ways, particularly at this time, in this country. It reflects an attitude of sarcasm and a sense of disposableness, that seems be assumed, yet proves to be an accurate representation of our current American culture. The materials used are ordinary. They are familiar. They have premeditated identities that I choose to manipulate as a process by which to communicate my ideas. The imagery is fairly simple, yet the ideas are complex. As I'm sure all artists do, I consider my work to be a visual extension of my personality and evidence of my existence in this place, at this time."

Mitchell also has work on display at Bradbury Gallery at Arkansas State University. The exhibit, Artists at Play: The Art of the Toy, will be on display through Friday, Nov. 14.

One of the longest-running, juried contemporary art exhibitions outside New York, the Delta is open to all artists living in or born in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee or Texas. Founded in 1956, the Delta was created to showcase contemporary works by artistsof the Mississippi Delta region. Today, the annual Delta Exhibition has grown to encompass works in all media and reflects the region's strong traditions of craftsmanship and observation.

The 51st Annual Delta is sponsored by the Andre Simon Memorial Trust in memory of everyone who has died or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

The Arts Center, located at Ninth and Commerce streets in Little Rock, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday; and closed Monday and major holidays.

There is no admission charge to view the Delta Exhibition. For more information, call (501) 372-4000.

- crolf@ arkansasonline.com

Three Rivers, Pages 118 on 11/02/2008

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