LITTLE ROCK — Several artists from the River Valley & Ozark Edition coverage area have works in the 31st annual Small Works on Paper touring exhibition at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock.
The free exhibit, which opened Jan. 4, is sponsored by the Arkansas Arts Council and features 39 works by 35 artists and will remain on display at the Little Rock venue until Saturday.
Patrick Ralston, director of the Arkansas Arts Council, told the large audience gathered in the gallery for the reception that this year’s exhibition “is outstanding.”
“This is one of the best shows we have had and one of the best opening receptions ever,” he said. “We are here in our sister institution, and that gives us an opportunity to also highlight what they are doing here. This is a great space.”
Both the Arkansas Arts Council and the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center are divisions of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.
Small Works on Paper is a juried visual art exhibition that showcases artwork no larger than 18 by 24 inches by Arkansas artists who are members of the Arkansas Artist Registry, an online gallery showcasing the artwork of Arkansas artists.
Melissa Foster of Conway received a purchase award for her mixed-media piece,
Sunken Heart. The Arts Council has purchased her work, which will remain in its permanent collection.
Foster graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway in December 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in art, with a fine arts emphasis; she minored in film.
“I’m working at being both a watercolor artist and filmmaker,” she said. “The goal is to do both as a storyboard artist.”
This is the first time Foster has entered the Small Works on Paper competition.
“I’m honored to be a part of the show and have the opportunity to talk about my work,” she said. Foster was among several artists who addressed the audience at the reception, discussing their artwork.
“The piece that was accepted was made for the show. The plan for it was that I was trying to recreate the colors of a different piece. Ultimately, I didn’t succeed, but the result is unique,” Foster said.
“At the time I was painting it, I was dealing with fresh heartbreak,” she said. “I feel like the piece represents strong feelings and a strong desire to keep persevering.
“My painting process allowed me to work under pressure, anxiety and heartbreak, as well as letting me take a breath. The work I create is a space that allows me to have a moment of calm, allows me to get lost in sparkling detail.”
Other artists with work in the exhibit include the following:
• Lyn Brands of Mallettown has a watercolor, Stormy Sunset, in the show.
This also is the first time Brands has entered the Small Works on Paper competition.
“I was really surprised that my work was accepted into the show,” she said, smiling. “I’m primarily a graphic designer rather than a fine-arts painter.
My entry is based on the many Maui, Hawaii, sunsets I have seen.”
She said her fine-art creations such as Stormy Sunset are “a means by which to evoke emotion rather than to transfer specific messages to the viewer,” which her graphic designs are created to do.
Brands is an associate professor of graphic design at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, where she began teaching in 2004. Prior to that, she taught for 13 years at UCA.
• Melissa Cowper-Smith of Morrilton has a pigment print on handmade paper, Convention Fire, on display in the exhibit.
“This is my second time participating in the Small Works show,” she said. “It’s an honor to be included in a group show that is so widely viewed around the state.”
She said the piece in this year’s show “depicts a burnt-out version of the derelict convention center at Meadow Creek.
“Meadow Creek, located in Fox, Arkansas, was an important meeting place for people concerned with the environment and global climate change in the 1980s-1990s,” she said. “This print is part of my most recent series, Traces Remain.
Cowper-Smith is a multimedia artist who uses projected video animation, digital printing, hand papermaking, collage and painting to express memory, forgetting and the passing of time. Her works depict natural and agricultural landscapes, objects and domestic interiors. She moved to Morrilton from New York City in 2011 to create an eco-farm and continue her art practice closer to nature. In 2013, she founded an Arkansas all-female art collective, Culture Shock.
• Marion A. Hotz of Russellville has a watercolor, Poinsettia Summer Leaves, in the exhibit.
“This is my first time being accepted into SWOP, and I’m extremely excited as a watercolor artist to put this honor in my short resume,” Hotz said.
“Although I began painting in watercolors more than 20 years ago, I have kept my work local to Russellville. My paintings have mostly been given as gifts or to local charities for fundraisers,” she said.
“I do paint — at least once a month — at my home with a group of sweet ladies that we call ‘PALS,’ for painting and laughing sisters,” she said.
“I take all of my own reference photos and usually paint using those. I do occasionally set up a still life to paint,” Hotz said.
“My palette is always a very limited palette with no more than five transparent, staining watercolors being used,” she said. “I mix all my colors from those five colors, thereby having a finished painting that is cohesive in its color balance. Over the years, I have gradually gotten more bold with my color saturation. I enjoy painting in a realistic style, but I also like to begin my painting day with a fun abstract painting to loosen up.
“I have kept an old Peanuts cartoon strip that has Snoopy buying a box of crayons. He wants a box with lots of greens, blues and yellows so that he ‘can paint happy pictures.’
“My paintings are intended to be happy pictures that reflect God’s beauty in our world.”
• Jason McCann of Maumelle has a watercolor and pastel painting, The American Student: Jamon on the Back Porch, in the show.
McCann has been in the Small Works on Paper exhibit “several times,” he said. “This is maybe the fifth or sixth time. This is one of my favorite shows because it is so eclectic.
“The piece that is in the show this year is part of my American Student series,” he said. “These works are intended to highlight the public-school students I teach as a reminder of who is affected in the recent debate over public-versus-charter school systems. I am a strong proponent of public schools.”
McCann is in his 15th year of teaching art at Little Rock Central High School. He has taught for a total of 17 years.
• Emily Renay Moore of Conway has a color pencil drawing, Yin Yang, in the exhibit.
“This is my first real art show,” said Moore, who is a recent graduate of Conway High School and a freshman art student at UCA. “I’ve been in little shows at school, but nothing like this.
“I was surprised that I was accepted. My mom and I both were going to enter, but she didn’t do it. I entered three pieces, and this is the one they chose.”
Moore said the work was part of her Advanced Placement art class in high school.
“We had to create a series of 12 pieces that related to each other,” she said. “I decided to do art supplies, since my mom (MiChelle Moore) and I own Moore Art Supplies and More in Conway. I kept coming back to color pencil, since that is my favorite medium.”
• Charlotte Rierson of Fairfield Bay has a watercolor, Alaska Miniature Series — Ziva, in the show.
“It is such an honor to have my painting selected into this highly prestigious art exhibit,” she said. This is her sixth year to have a painting selected for the show.
“This year I painted a miniature series on Alaska,” Rierson said. “I was inspired by my son, Jim Peacock. When he graduated from the University of Arkansas, he decided to be a bush pilot in Alaska. He was there a little over five years and had so many stories and photos, I decided to express the beauty and adventures in my series.
“Ziva means brilliance and radiance,” she said. “The painting is 2 inches by 6 inches. It is new for me to paint this small.”
Rierson coordinates the North Central Arkansas Art Galley at the Fairfield Bay Conference Center, where her work is often displayed. She won the Best of Show award in the Conway League of Artists Fall Show at the Faulkner County Library.
She is a signature member of the Arkansas League of Artists, president of the North Central Arkansas
Artist League, and past president and a signature member of the Mid-Southern Watercolorists. Her work has been selected for the 2018 MSW 48th Annual Juried Exhibition that opens March 8 at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in Little Rock.
The Small Works on Paper exhibition will move to Harding University in Searcy in February, opening Feb. 5 and closing Feb. 23. The exhibit will move to Arkansas Tech University in March, with an opening reception set from 2:30-3:30 p.m. March 7 in the Norman Hall Art Gallery.
The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is a museum dedicated to telling the story of the African-American experience in Arkansas. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 501 W. Ninth St. in Little Rock. For more information, call (501) 683-3593.
For more information on the Small Works on Paper exhibition, including the touring schedule, visit the Arkansas Arts Council’s website, www.arkansasarts.org.