Area artists show work at Delta Exhibition

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published August 10, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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Several artists with ties to the Tri-Lakes Edition coverage area have works on display in the 56th annual Delta Exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.

Daniel Mark Cassity of Hot Springs, DebiLynn Fendley of Arkadelphia, Jeff Sharp of Bryant and Katherine Strause, who lives in Little Rock and works at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, are among the 65 artists from Arkansas and the surrounding area who were selected to show their works in this year’s exhibit.

Cassity and Fendley both won honorable mentions for their works. Sharp, who won a Delta Award of $750, is featured on the cover of today’s edition.

“The most soulful and honest works of art usually begin with a local footprint, a tether connecting many parts to one heat source, one place, in order to explore a broader panoply of ideas,” said guest juror Brian Rutenberg, who was born in South Carolina and now lives and works as an artist in New York City. “With over 1,300 images from 468 artists, this was certainly the most challenging exhibition I’ve juried.”

Following is a look at the local artists:

Daniel Mark Cassity

Daniel Mark Cassity grew up in northeastern Louisiana and moved to Hot Springs in fall 2013.

He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Louisiana Tech University, studying design and watercolor, then graphic design/illustration before committing fully to fine art. He did postgraduate work at East Carolina University.

This is his first time to submit work to the Delta Exhibition.

“It is always gratifying to receive any form of validation in such a subjective field of

endeavor,” Cassity said. “With respect to the Delta, ‘honorable mention’ seems to represent a higher level of recognition than might be suspected, as there are relatively few categories of awards. Lastly, I must point out the obvious — that this is the 56th Delta; that’s quite a history. The Delta has the respect of art enthusiasts, something I noticed quickly when bringing it up. I’m proud to participate and happy to promote it.”

Cassity’s oil on panel entry in the Delta is titled The Wizard’s Wand.

“It is part of my ‘Kingdom’ series of still lifes,” Cassity said. “In this case, the suggestion is that a wizard has transformed the hapless creatures we confront into new and barely recognizable shapes, for reasons unknown. This is a perfect example of a rather sad undercurrent given to an obviously humorous image.”

Visit Cassity’s website,, for more information.


DebiLynn Fendley specializes in drawing, painting, printmaking and photography, as well as creative writing and creative nonfiction.

She holds Bachelor of Science in Education and Master of Science in Education degrees in art from Henderson State University, as well as a Master of Science in Education degree in English. She has taught art and English at Henderson and has taught art at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia.

“This was my first time to be accepted to the Delta, so I was delighted to get in, and even more delighted to have received an honorable mention and to be hung near the opening of the exhibition,” Fendley said.

The title of her piece in the show is Crystal Bridges, an acrylic on paper.

“Crystal Bridges was a result of a trip to the [Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville] with my father, Ruben Fendley, who often helps me in the studio,” Fendley said. “He was very intrigued with Evan Penny’s sculpture Old Self Portrait, and as I saw him studying it, I knew I wanted to photograph him with the sculpture.

“Once I came home and saw the photograph, I knew it was more than a photograph. The image just begged to be presented as a painting,” she said. “My father came with me to the opening of the Delta, and it was good for him, I think, to see the attention that the painting got, as well as the attention he got as the model. Many people photographed him with the painting, and that thrilled us both, and thrilled me even more than people asking to photograph me with the work.”

Another of Fendley’s projects involves her working with veteran bikers to tell the stories of their lives.

More of her work can be found on her website,


Katherine Strause, who lives in Little Rock, is chair of the art department and associate professor of painting at Henderson State University.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in visual art from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

Strause’s work has been included in several Delta exhibits at the Arkansas Arts Center.

“Oh, gosh. It’s the most thrilling thing to be accepted,” Strause said when asked about being included in the show for several years now.

“It’s the one regional exhibition that all fellow artists want to be accepted in, certainly the most fun to get the email that you’ve been accepted,” she said.

“It also always reminds me of homecoming,” Strause said. “We all come together — whether we got in or not — and share pride in the high level of work and varied amount of talent in our region of the country.”

Strause said her painting in the show, titled Beauty, is based on a very faded photograph of a woman from Piggott.

“That’s all that it says on the back of the 2 1/2- by 4-inch photo. It’s a found photograph, and I’ve painted and drawn her several times,” Strause said.

“She depicts the isolation and exhaustion that domestic and farm workers endured. This was a later form of slavery that appeared after the emancipation in the form of tenant farming and house help,” she said.

“I also get the feeling that she is presented like property in this image. It would not have been her family taking this photograph, but her employer.

“In this painting, she’s based on all female saints and goddesses.”

For more information on Strause, visit her website at

This year’s Delta Exhibition will remain on display through Sept. 28 in the Townsend Wolf Gallery of the Arkansas Arts Center at Ninth and Commerce streets in Little Rock. There is no admission charge.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The gallery is closed on Mondays and major holidays.

For more information, call (501) 372-4000 or visit

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