Russellville artists show work in Delta des Refusés

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published October 4, 2015 at 12:00 a.m.
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Carol Rolf/Contributing Photographer

Russellville artists participating in the Delta des Refusés exhibit at the Argenta Branch of the William F. Laman Library System in North Little Rock are, from left, David Rackley, Beth Whitlow and Rachel Trusty. Trusty organized the exhibit, which features artwork not accepted into this year’s Delta Exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, and hopes to make Delta des Refusés an annual event.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Just as the building that houses the Argenta Branch of the William F. Laman Library System has been revitalized, so, too, have been approximately 40 artists with works in the Delta des Refusés.

Closed in June 2012 by the United States Postal Service, the old Argenta Post Office at 420 Main St. in North Little Rock was renovated and reopened in April 2014 as the Argenta Branch Library, complete with a large exhibit hall/gallery. That gallery now houses the Delta des Refusés — an art exhibit featuring works that were not accepted into the 57th annual Delta Exhibition, which closed Sept. 20 at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.

Rachel Trusty of Russellville organized the Delta des Refusés and serves as its curator. The show, which opened Sept. 18, will remain on display until Oct. 19.

“This show was my concept,” said Trusty, who teaches history at Russellville High School. She is dually certified to teach art and history.

“I entered the Delta this year for the fourth time, I think, and didn’t get in again. I thought, ‘We should have a Salon des Refuses,’” she said.

“I put some feelers out and got a great response,” said Trusty, who is the daughter of Lola Roberts of Russellville and the late Dan Trusty. “This is the first ever [Delta des Refusés], and it will be annual. I hope it will grow each year. I hope to have 100 entries next year.”

Trusty said the show is created in the spirit of the original Salon des Refusés (Exhibition of Rejects) held in Paris in 1863. Among the rejected artists of the Paris Salon were Manet, Courbet, Pissarro and Cezanne, all artists whose works are well-known today.

Trusty said 882 works were entered in this year’s Delta Exhibition, and only 72 were selected.

She said she plans to hold the show annually in tandem with the Delta.

“While the results of the Delta Exhibition are not tied to the defining of art as the Paris Salon was, the exhibition still stands as the leading juried show in Arkansas, thus setting the bar for aesthetic taste in the region,” Trusty said. “The Delta des Refusés strives to offer an alternative view of regional art and, like the Salon des Refusés, hopes to give legitimacy to artists who were not accepted into the Delta Exhibition. Led by artists and without a juror, the show embraces the ideas of freedom of exhibition and freedom of expression. It hopes to place the power of judgment in regard to taste into the hands of the public.”

She said viewers to the gallery are invited to nominate their favorite entry. A People’s Choice Award winner will be announced Oct. 12.

Trusty, a 2002 graduate of Russellville High School, graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in art education and from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University in 2011 with a Master of Fine Arts degree in studio art.

Her artwork has been exhibited throughout the state, most recently in January at a one-woman show at the Historic Arkansas Museum titled This Is the Garden: Colours Come and Go. Trusty’s entry in the Delta des Refusés was included in that show. Titled Floral Meditation II, the work is an acrylic and resin on canvas.

Two other Russellville artists have works in Delta des Refusés — David Rackley and Beth Whitlow.

Following is a brief look at those two artists:

David Rackley

“The Salon des Refusés exhibitions have had a long and illustrious history in the world of art, and I am pleased and honored to be part of this tradition,” Rackley told visitors during the opening reception for Delta des Refusés.

He noted, however, that his work has been accepted in two previous Delta exhibitions.

“This was the fourth time I entered, and I did not get accepted this time,” he said. “It’s a 50-50 chance, so I feel pretty good to have been accepted twice.”

Rackley, who is a photographer, was born in Russellville but grew up in Alaska, where he “was inspired by the majestic beauty of the untamed wilderness,” he said.

It was not until he left Alaska and enrolled at Arizona State University that he became interested in photography and began to take photographs in the Southwest and in Alaska. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology from Arizona State and has traveled extensively, taking photographs in Mexico and Guatemala, as well as in South America, Southeast Asia and Europe. He later received a master’s degree in education from the University of South Carolina.

He said his “camera of choice” is a large 4x5-view camera.

“I shoot black and white film exclusively and print this on a silver gelatin paper using traditional darkroom techniques,” Rackley said. “Once a print has been produced and dried, it can be painted using photo oils and, for fine details, oil pencils. The application of the oils is a reductive process: The oils are liberally applied to cover appropriate areas and then carefully removed to reveal various degrees of underlying detail. …

“There are no computers in my process, no digital images in my work. Each photograph is individually printed in the darkroom and hand-painted. Although it is possible for me to use the same negative more than once, each piece I create is ultimately unique.”

Rackley, 66, is a reading aide at Center Valley Elementary School in Russellville. His wife, Rhonda Shook, is a professor of communication at University of the Ozarks in Clarksville.

Rackley’s entry in the Delta des Refusés exhibit is a hand-painted silver gelatin photograph called Metamorphosis in Progress.

Beth Whitlow

“Rachel Trusty has curated an amazing show featuring so many wonderful artists,” Whitlow said. “The Delta Exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center is always an incredible compilation of artists and mediums, but they can only include so many pieces. I love the idea of the Delta des Refusés to showcase more of the phenomenal talent in the South, and I’m excited to be part of a show with so many different styles of art.

“The piece I entered, titled I Thought This Was a Manual, is an oil painting of EmmyLou, our German shorthaired pointer. Like [the character Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird], our EmmyLou encounters the world with a youthful, tomboyish devil-may-care demeanor. She is confident and sometimes confused by the Southern expectations of ladylike behavior and social niceties.

“As Scout is more comfortable in overalls and playing with the boys, our EmmyLou finds her solace in the fields looking for quail. She is obsessed with flight and was

disappointed upon discovering that To Kill a Mockingbird is, in fact, not a manual for catching birds. Perhaps EmmyLou will give the book a chance and see a bit of herself in Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch.”

Whitlow is a full-time artist. She said a “whimsical” perspective on dog portraiture characterizes her work.

She began oil-painting in the summer of 2010 under the instruction of Sarah Keathley at the Lemley House Art Guild in Russellville, where Whitlow is a member. She said she “prefers the richness of oil paint as it allows for a variation of textures, such as fur, silk, velvet and feathers, and creates a striking contrast between light and dark.” She describes her portraits as “lighthearted social satires on everyday house pets and how they often reflect humankind.”

Whitlow, the daughter of William and Connie Scott of Dardanelle, graduated from Russellville High School in 2002 and from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 2007. She and her husband, Josh, live in Russellville with their dogs: EmmyLou; Case, an Airedale terrier; and a puppy named Baron Von Schnauzer.

The Delta des Refusés art exhibit is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Oct. 16, the exhibit will be open until 8 p.m. as part of the monthly Argenta Artwalk.

For more information, call (501) 687-1061.