NEWPORT — An unlikely venture that takes place each year on the banks of the White River in Newport has become wildly successful. The sixth annual Delta Visual Arts Show is set to include 180 artists from five states and 60 Arkansas communities.
Registering at full capacity, the show, hosted by the Blue Bridge Center for the Delta Arts, will be held Saturday. The show’s artists grew up in the Delta, live or have lived in the Delta or produce Delta-themed work.
The event started with a partnership with the Clinton School for Public Service in Newport and was spearheaded by the school’s students and community volunteers. The visual art in the show covers a broad range of offerings, including pottery, paintings, photography, jewelry and sculptures.
“I think this show is important because it broadens the cultural aspect of our community and gives people a way to visualize what is possible,” said Kay Brand, a public-school art instructor for more than 30 years and an annual exhibitor from the start of the event. “I always told my students, art is everywhere. Everything you look at, all things man-made, had someone that decided color, shape and size. All that takes art skills. There is art in all of us.”
This year’s show includes a juried panel of judges, something new to the event. On a voluntary basis, a number of artists submitted samples of their work for consideration prior to the show. Those samples were presented anonymously to the professionals who agreed to serve on the panel. The individual jurors then selected work that will be considered by the full panel on show day. All of this was kept confidential until the announcement of eligible participants in late January.
The historically well-attended event is sponsored by the Iron Mountain Regional Arts Council, the Downtown Revitalization and Improvement Volunteer Effort,
Entergy, the city of Newport, the Newport Economic Development Commission, Merchants and Planters Bank, and hundreds of local volunteers.
“The show is a place for local and regional artists to display and sell their art and meet other artists,” said Lee Scoggins, past president of the arts council and current Outstanding Citizen of Newport as chosen by the Newport Chamber of Commerce. “But with the explosive growth over the few short years, it now also showcases downtown Newport and the friendly spirit of our citizens at [their] best.”
Other Newport attractions will be available as well, such as the historic Iron Mountain Train Depot and the Rock ’n’ Roll Highway 67 Museum.
In addition to local sponsors, development of the show was facilitated by the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock. This year, substantial funding for the show was made possible through a major Collaborative Projects Support Grant through the Arkansas Arts Council. Funding for advertising is supplied through the Ozark Gateway Tourist Council.