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Tuesday, July 17, 2018, 2:41 a.m.

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Area artists show works in annual Delta Exhibition

By Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer

This article was published June 24, 2018 at 12:00 a.m.

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Several artists from the River Valley & Ozark Edition coverage area have work on display in the 60th annual Delta Exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock. Among those attending the opening reception May 24 are Melissa Cowper-Smith of Morrilton, from left; Neal Harrington and Tammy Harrington, both of Russellville; and Jason McCann of Maumelle.

LITTLE ROCK — The 60th annual Delta Exhibition is on display at the Arkansas Arts Center, showcasing a variety of works by artists living or working in Arkansas and its neighboring states. The exhibit will remain on display through Aug. 26.

Works by several artists from the River Valley & Ozark Edition coverage area are among the 52 works by 46 artists featured in this year’s show. A panel of three jurors, including Brian K. Young, director of the Baum Gallery at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, selected the works.

“We selected work with faux fur, coffee, cold wax, ziatype, video, yucca, fluorescent tubing, resin, found objects, copper point and, of course, the traditional materials,” said Young, who also served as a juror for the exhibit in 1999 and was a curator at the Arkansas Arts Center at one time. “Despite this seemingly endless list of media, there is a thoughtfulness and subtlety in nearly all of the works. These traits come in the manner in which these Delta artists have captured the essence of the region. People, place and nature remain strong unifiers.”

Among the local artists with works in this year’s Delta Exhibition are as follows:

• David Bailin of Little Rock is an adjunct art instructor at UCA. His work in this year’s show, Forgotten, is a charcoal, pastel, colored pencil and coffee piece on prepared paper.

“I am always thrilled to be part of the Delta Exhibition,” Bailin said. “I enter to support the efforts of the Arkansas Arts Center to show regional artists. Having entered nearly every year since arriving in Arkansas in 1986, I am constantly awed by the range of subject matter and talent on display. I am honored to have been chosen to exhibit this year and join in celebrating the artistic achievements of my fellow artists.

“My work Forgotten is part of my Alzheimer’s series called Erasing,” he said. “My father would spend hours looking at photographs that appeared on his computer screen. Occasionally, one would spark his memory, and he would talk about it. In this case, the photograph showed him sitting next to a dear friend on a living-room sofa. He was bothered that he couldn’t remember his name. In my drawing, this is the final image, but under that drawing, erased, are images upon images of that living room, as well as other rooms he lived in — his dorm room, his first office. The leftover fragments of those drawings stand in for his fog of memory.”

Bailin received the Grand Award in the 2014 Delta Exhibition and the Delta Award in the 2016 show.

• Melissa Cowper-Smith of Morrilton teaches art part time at UCA and at Hendrix College in Conway. She has two works in the show, a video titled Unremember and a pigment print on handmade paper titled With Their Own Hands.

“Both of these works are part of a series I did based on images of homes that were built by hand,” she said. “Some of the places were inhabited by their builders; others were abandoned. In the video and prints, I added appropriated images of places devastated by war or natural disaster. In the series, I explored the intimacy of once-cherished objects, clothing and spaces left behind as people move on or are pushed away.

“I was especially excited to have Unremember included in the Delta Exhibition, as video works are less often accepted,” she said. “I hope there will be more opportunities to see new mediums such as video art, performance art, interactive art and/or digital art in the Delta and other regional juried shows. These media often critique art as a commodity, they challenge our aesthetic assumptions about art, and they represent issues or ideas connected to our contemporary media-driven culture.”

• Neal Harrington of Russellville is a professor of art at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville. He calls his entry, which is a woodcut with india-ink wash, Favorite Daughter and Rival Sons Diptych.

He is a two-time recipient of the Delta Award in past exhibitions.

“Having work selected for the Delta competition is always special,” Harrington said. “It is difficult to get in. I have lived in Arkansas for 17 years, and this is my fifth time in the show. The pool of applicants/competition is so deep with talent that it is intimidating and very rewarding to be included. I always look forward to this exhibit, whether I am included or not, but it is more fun to be included.”

• Tammy Harrington of Russellville is a professor of art at University of the Ozarks in Clarksville. She calls her entry, which is an intaglio print and cut paper, Chrysanthemum.

“This is my first time getting into the Delta,” she said. “It is a great honor to be a part of this Arkansas artistic tradition and to exhibit with such an amazing group of artists. What makes this moment even more special is that both my husband, Neal, and I were accepted into this show.”

• Benjamin Krain of Maumelle is a photographer at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. His entry, a metallic photographic print on Kodak Endura paper, is titled Trains. It is an aerial photograph of the Union Pacific hump yard in North Little Rock.

“I’m pleased to be chosen for the Delta,” Krain said. “It’s not often that photojournalism gets included in gallery selections, but it’s important for people to see not only creative works but also documentary pieces from their community.”

Krain worked for more than 20 years as a photographer at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before accepting his job at UA Little Rock earlier this year. His photos have been in previous Delta exhibits, once in 2010 and again in 2012.

• Jason McCann of Maumelle teaches art at Central High School in Little Rock. His entry, a watercolor and pastel oil on paper, is titled The American Student: Montre with Two Lamps.

“As always, it’s an honor to be in the Delta,” he said. “While I’ve been in before, it’s never something I expect or take for granted. I grew up around the Arkansas Arts Center, so this place feels like home, and being included in these exhibitions means a lot to me, especially considering all of the talented artists and high level of work my piece is surrounded by.”

McCann won an honorable mention award in the 2017 Delta with another portrait in his series The American Student.

• Donna Pinckley of Little Rock is a professor of art at UCA. She has two archival pigment prints in the show: Black Feller? To each his own and Thats not your momma. The works are part of a series, Sticks and Stones, which deals with racism.

“This is the first time for me to be in the Delta after a couple of tries,” she said. “I used to get into Prints, Drawings and Photographs when it was around.

“For over 30 years, I have photographed a particular social and cultural group of children,” she said. “Before my eyes and in front of my camera, they have passed through adolescence into young adulthood. My goal throughout has been to portray not how the world sees them, but how they see themselves.

“The Sticks and Stones photography series began with an image of one of my frequent subjects and her African-American boyfriend,” she said. “Her mother and I were catching up when she told me of the cruel taunts hurled at her daughter for dating a boy of another race. As she was speaking, I was reminded of another couple many years ago who had been the object of similar racial slurs. What struck me was the resilience of both couples in the face of derision, their refusal to let others define them.”

For more information on the Delta Exhibition, visit the website arkansasartscenter.org or call (501) 372-4000.

The Arkansas Arts Center is at Ninth and Commerce streets in Little Rock. There is no admission charge. Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The center is closed Mondays and major holidays.

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