Works by area artists included in Small Works on Paper exhibit

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published January 30, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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Carol Rolf/Contributing Photographer

Five area artists are included in the 2014 Small Works on Paper touring exhibition. Attending the opening of the show Jan. 16 at the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff are, from the left, Jane Bonady Watson of Arkadelphia and Houston Fryer and Claire Cade, both art students at Henderson State University.

Excitement and pride were evident as three artists from the Tri-Lakes Edition coverage area talked about their artwork Jan. 16 during the opening reception for the 27th annual Small Works on Paper exhibit that will tour the state during 2014.

Gathered at the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff, Claire Cade and Houston Fryer, both students at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, and Jane Bonady Watson of Arkadelphia joined several other artists from across Arkansas for the first viewing of the exhibit. Works by Hot Springs artists Gary Simmons and Richard Stephens were also selected for the show, although the artists were unable to attend the reception.

Cade, Fryer and Watson are first-time entrants in the exhibition,

which is sponsored by the Arkansas

Arts Council and showcases the work of Arkansas artists who are members of the Arkansas Artist Registry, an online art gallery coordinated by the Arts Council. Simmons

and Stephens have been featured in past SWOP exhibits. Cade, Fryer and Stephens each received a Purchase Award, which is the cash amount equivalent to the value of their selected works.

Following is an introduction to these artists.

Claire Cade

“I’ve very excited,” said Cade, 21, a junior studio art major at HSU. “This is the first time I’ve ever entered something like this. I’m really excited to be in this show.”

Cade’s entry is a linocut reduction titled The Brothers Tsarnaev.

“It’s about the Boston Marathon bombing last April,” she said. “I took the title after Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. The Boston bombing was committed by the Tsarnaev brothers.

“It’s a social commentary,” she said of her work. “I used a blend roll at the top, which fades from blue to red, depicting the explosion. The vultures are the main symbols. They symbolize both the bombers — in that they have clearly done something wrong — and the media, which brought our attention to the bombing but also preyed on the pain of the victims.”

Cade, a graduate of Beebe High School, is the daughter of Gary Cade of Searcy. She said she has enough hours to be classified as a senior at HSU, but this is only her third year in college.

“I am getting ready for my junior review this semester,” she said.

When asked what she wants to do after graduation, she said, laughing, “I have no idea. I just want to be

an artist.”

Houston Fryer

Fryer, the 23-year-old son of Robert and Janet Fryer of Hot Springs, said he has just been classified as a senior at HSU. His major is also studio art.

“This is the first time I have been in this show,” Fryer said. “It’s also the first time I’ve entered it.

“This is a good way to get started. This was a terrific surprise.”

Fryer’s entry is a charcoal-on-paper drawing titled A Mother’s Stare.

“It’s part of a series of portraits that I have done,” Fryer said. “This one is really a portrait of my mother.

“In this series, I want to show the subject as literal, as straightforward as I can. I want to just show the expression. This results in a face that is so powerful.”

Fryer, who is originally from San Diego, Calif., is a graduate of Hot Springs Lakeside High School. He hopes to go to graduate school and eventually become a teacher.

Jane Bonady Watson

Watson, 67, has lived in Arkadelphia for two years, moving there from Memphis to be near one of her three daughters.

“This is the first time I have entered the Small Works exhibit,” she said. “I’ve only been in Arkansas for two years and on the [Arkansas Artist] Registry for one year. I am very pleased to be included in this exhibit.”

Watson’s entry in the exhibit is titled 1340 Monroe and is a mixed-media piece.

“It’s my mother and me,” she said, pointing out the picket fence. “I consider myself a hybrid. I was born in Racine, Wis., and the picket fence is iconic in the North. We moved to Arkansas when I was 7, so much of my art reflects the high horizontal lines seen in the Delta of the South.”

Watson said the piece is based on a photograph.

“It’s really a reduction-relief print,” she said. “I transferred a print onto linoleum, then gouged it out in places and added more in other places. Then I filled in other areas with drawings and color.”

Watson graduated from Wynne High School in 1965. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in art with an emphasis in printmaking from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1969. Some years later, she attended the Memphis College of Art to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in printmaking.

She taught high school art for more than 20 years in Shelby County, Tenn. She now teaches art to prekindergarten through third-grade students at Louisa E. Perritt Primary School in Arkadelphia.

Gary Simmons

Simmons’ piece in this year’s Small Works exhibit is a charcoal drawing titled Hat and Gloves.

“I am always honored to be part of the Small Works show,” said Simmons, who will be 73 next month. “I think the Arts Council provides a valuable service to us all and does a good job of managing and producing the show. I have been in the show several times … but never have the conviction I will get in. This makes it challenging and interesting since every juror brings a different agenda to the process.

“I will continue to enter since I like the show and the experience.”

Simmons said his piece “is a life drawing done with a model who was sitting for the group I draw with.

“The pose was about 20 to 30 minutes, so the piece is gestural in its feeling. The model had sat for us before and was particularly adventurous about what she brought to the sessions. She liked costumes and accouterments such as angel wings and wigs. The drawing shows her in one of her outfits, nude all but the hat and gloves.”

Simmons retired in May as a professor of art at Henderson State University, where he had taught since 1991.

“I do not have a degree in art,” he said. “Like many artists, I sneaked in through the back door after earning a B.A. and M.A. in English literature and an Ed.D. in education and media. I did art all along the way but didn’t consider myself an artist because I didn’t have training or credentials. One of the liabilities of being self-taught is the ignorance one can have about the very profession being sought. I jumped through a lot of hoops before coming to grips with my need to pursue art professionally.”

Simmons said his future plans include sorting through his collection of drawings accumulated over more than 40 years.

Richard Stephens

“Small Works is a really good show,” said Stephens, 67. “I enter it every year but don’t always get in it. I am happy to have been selected this year.”

Stephens’ entry is a charcoal drawing titled Pensive Model.

“It’s a life drawing I did as a member of a life-drawing group we have here in Hot Springs, one that Gary

[Simmons] participates in, too,” Stephens said.

“With this drawing, I cropped it a little bit to make it more intense. I’ve

emphasized the face and the

intensity of the model and

her dignity.”

Stephens said his main medium is watercolor, “but I do a lot of drawing, usually in charcoal,” he said. “I do it for the fun of it. I do preliminary drawings for my watercolors.”

Stephens graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway in 1969 with a degree in art. He served as an illustrator in the Army and began his commercial art career in 1971.

“After 45 years as a commercial artist, my main focus now is my work and my workshops,” he said.

Stephens teaches watercolor workshops all across the country.

“This year, I will be in Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas,” he said. “And next year, I’ll be in Utah.”

He also uses social media as a way to promote his art.

“After I do a new painting, I take a photo of it and post it on Facebook,” he said. “In just minutes, it goes all over the world. And in the next few seconds, I get feedback from as far away as Taiwan or Scotland. It’s really amazing.”

The 2014 Small Works on Paper exhibition features 40 works selected from more than 300 submissions by juror Mary Kennedy, CEO of the Mid-America Arts Alliance. Kennedy is a past director of ExhibitsUSA and the curator of exhibitions for the alliance.

The exhibit is on display at the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, 701 Main St. in Pine Bluff, through today. The gallery will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. Admission is free.

The exhibit will move to the Norman Hall Art Gallery at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville on Feb. 3, where it will remain on display through Feb. 25. An opening reception will be held from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Feb. 5. The public is invited, and there is no charge.

For a complete listing of the exhibit’s touring schedule, visit www.arkansasarts.com/programs/swop.aspx. The exhibit will be on display Oct. 6-24 at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia.

For more information, call (501) 325-9767.

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