Three artists with ties to the Three Rivers Edition coverage area have works on display in the 56th annual Delta Exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.
Sheila Cantrell of Batesville and Margaret Harrell and Carole Smith, both of Mountain View, are among the 65 artists from Arkansas and the surrounding area selected to show their works in this year’s exhibit.
“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:
Sheila Cantrell works from a studio in her home in Batesville. She describes herself as “primarily a self-taught artist.” She is a realist and works in graphite, colored pencils and oils.
“This is my third drawing to get into this annual show,” Cantrell said. “It’s a very nice feeling to be accepted into the Delta.”
Her piece in this year’s show is a graphite drawing titled Winter Gourd.
“My inspiration for this drawing was the white winter gourd from which [the work] derives its title,” Cantrell said in an artist’s statement. “I wanted to contrast the organic shape of the gourd versus the simpler shapes of the vases and wooden bowl.
“The orderly design of the Indian pottery introduces another visual contrast when compared to the gourd’s informal contours. The soft folds of the fabric produce yet another level of variation among the textures of the objects.”
Cantrell said her still lifes are “about the act and pure enjoyment of seeing.
“I strive to achieve a pleasing, interesting composition, which is then faithfully rendered. It is my hope that the viewer will join with me in discovering the visual beauty of simple things.”
Cantrell has a Bachelor of Science in Education degree with a major in mathematics from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.
“I worked as a computer programmer years ago and took up art as a hobby,” she said.
She is a member of the International Guild of Realism and the Colored Pencil Society of America. Winter Gourd was also juried into last year’s International Guild of Realism’s annual members’ exhibit.
Margaret Harrell has been painting professionally for more than 40 years.
She grew up in Dallas and graduated from Harding University in Searcy with a bachelor’s degree in art.
“It’s always a challenge and a privilege to get work in the Delta
Exhibition,” Harrell said. “I’m really happy to be in the show again this year.”
Harrell’s work has been selected for several Delta exhibits.
This year, her entry is an acrylic on board titled The Clean Up Crew.
“My painting is a two-panel painting of four black vultures sitting on a chain-link fence,” she said.
“I really enjoy painting birds, and vultures have a lot of personality,” Harrell said. “They are a daily sight in north Arkansas. They play an integral role in the ecosystem. Not everything in nature is beautiful, and to the average observer, vultures are quite ugly.
“But they are very valuable,” she said. “They clean up what others do not want. The painting depicts, in a matter-of-fact way, that life has cycles. Life is real,and so is death. And in the animal world, that is an accepted fact.”
Harrell is a signature member of the Mid-Southern Watercolorists.
Carole Smith teaches art and is the Environmental and Spatial Technologies (EAST) facilitator for the Mountain View School District.
She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Chicago. Her degrees are in ceramics, graphite drawing and art history. She also works in watercolors.
“This is my first submission to an exhibition in a long time, and I was urged to do so by my daughter,” Smith said. “I entered the exhibit to placate her, not thinking for a moment that my attempts at watercolor would earn any attention whatsoever.
“Having seen much of what has been exhibited at the [Arkansas] Arts Center over the past years, I was shocked and humbled that my work was accepted to the Delta Exhibition,” she said. “I devote as much time as possible to drawing and painting. Winter allows much more time than the rest of the year. There are always works in progress, drawings and paintings on the drawing tables. Hopefully, I will soon have a large-enough portfolio to gain support of a gallery or two.”
Smith’s watercolor in the exhibition is called Onto Guion, “as in Guion, Arkansas,” she said.
“There is an elevation on my ranch where one can see all the way to Guion,” Smith said. “The Ozark Plateau is simply indescribably beautiful. It’s a great day if you get to spend it outside. It’s a better day if part of it is spent painting.”
Smith said all of her work is abstract, “if you are using the strict definition of the words ‘derived from.’ My work is just that — derived from what I see expressed in the nuances of the media.”
In addition to drawing, painting and teaching, Smith breeds Holsteiner horses on her ranch, Eloraleah, at Mountain View. She gives dressage lessons to riders of all ages, abilities and focus, and is working on earning her U.S. Dressage Federation instructor certification.
“Horses and art may seem an unlikely combination, but it’s actually more common than one might think,” Smith said. “Alice Walton said good art and good horses have much in common; each must possess brains, balance and beauty. I agree.”
This year’s Delta Exhibition will remain on display through Sept. 28 in the Townsend Wolf Gallery of the Arkansas Arts Center, 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 www.arkarts.com.