Small Works on Paper exhibit features 5 local artists

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published January 29, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.
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Sea Creatures 7, by Kristin DeGeorge

— Works by several artists from the Tri-Lakes Edition coverage area have been selected for the Small Works on Paper annual touring exhibit sponsored by the Arkansas Arts Council.

Works by two of the artists — Kristin DeGeorge of Hot Springs and Leah Grant of Arkadelphia — were selected as purchase award-winners, and those works will become part of the Arts Council’s permanent collection. Both DeGeorge and Grant are first-time exhibitors in the show.

“This is the first time I have entered Small Works on Paper, and I was so excited to get the letter of acceptance,” DeGeorge said. “As an ‘outsider,’ it means becoming part of this community of artists that I so admire.”

DeGeorge, 52, was born in Beaumont, Texas, and has lived most of her adult life in Spain. She currently lives and works in Hot Springs and Montpellier, France.

“I returned to Hot Springs recently because of family ties,” she said. “My daughter Emma and I made this big move together, and now she attends Hendrix College [in Conway].

“In Arkansas, I have discovered so many excellent artists, and the public support is very different from what I experience in Spain,” she said.

“The piece in the exhibit, Sea Creatures 7, is from a suite of what I call ‘Carpet Samples,’”

DeGeorge said. “These monoprints come from a yearning to see everything at once through transparent materials, feverish layering, printing windows, cutting and repositioning them in an endless frenzy of composition.

The copper-plate matrices are carefully etched to define tiny details of oneiric creatures that seem to live under the sea.”

DeGeorge studied fine arts at Mason Gross School of the Arts in New Jersey and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University in 1987. She studied graphic design and printmaking at EINA Escola de Disseny in Barcelona, Spain, from 1989 to 1991.

She said she is organizing a collective printmaking movement with women artists from three countries — France, Spain and the United States.

“Dolores Justus [of Hot Springs] is working with us as an artist,” she said. “I have other Arkansas printmakers on board as well, from Hendrix and the University of Central Arkansas, five others from Madrid, and now I am recruiting the French group.”

For more information on DeGeorge, visit her website

Grant, 23, is a graduate of Ozark Adventist Academy in Gentry and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia in 2016. She also attended Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas.

While at Henderson, in 2016 Grant participated in the Black History Exhibition and the senior exhibition, Becoming. She also participated in two art exhibits at the Arkadelphia Arts Center in 2016 — Art of Main and the Peake Rosenwald School Reunion Art Show.

“This is my first time being a part of the Small Works on Paper exhibit,” she said. “I am really excited to be a part of this exhibition.”

Grant attended the opening reception for the traveling exhibit Jan. 8 at East Arkansas Community College in Forrest City.

“I got a lot of positive responses toward my work from the guests and artists,” she said. “I was also the youngest artist there, so that was cool. I appreciate all of the artists who participated in the artist talk. It was great to see different perspectives and work.”

In the current exhibit, Grant’s work, Collecting the Pieces, is a mixed-media collage.

“Mixed-media techniques with printmaking and collage give me the ability to push how I arrange my artwork,” she said. “My recent work has been formed around the idea of vulnerability being highlighted and recognized as a strength instead of a weakness. The figures in my work represent the raw and intimate moments that help form my compositions.

“My prints often start off as an idea I ‘sketch’ with my camera that I cut up to make new final pieces. The process I worked with involved a great deal of steps and layers. This same approach highlights the uncensored elements in how people and their imperfections are essential to what makes them as a whole.”

Grant currently works at Group Living Inc. in Arkadelphia. She hopes to pursue a career in art and may attend graduate school at a later date.

Other area artists with works in the 2017 Small Works on Paper touring exhibit include the following:

• Thad Flenniken of Royal has a piece he calls Contemplating the Dilemma in the show.

“I think this is the 11th time since 1987 that I have been included in this exhibition,” said Flenniken, who retired in 2014 after 40 years as an art instructor at National Park College (formerly National Park Community College and prior to that, Garland County Community College).

“Wow, what an honor,” he said. “It’s a wonderful venue to show work around the state, and I’m always excited to be included, especially at age 71.”

The figure in Contemplating the Dilemma “is a quick sketch of a model drawn during our weekly drawing-group sessions,” said Flenniken, who holds degrees in art from the University of Arkansas.

“I’ve been working with drawing on my iPad for about two years now,” he said. “It allows me to capture the images, then incorporate them into appropriate pieces in the studio.

“The figure — archeological, genetic Eve — stands with a door behind her symbolizing women’s choices from the past. She is looking to a distant door contemplating the choices she and historical/cultural advances will select for the women of the future — the question.”

He said this piece of artwork is an archival iPad model study on collaged paper, using pastel and charcoal, and reflects his ongoing theme of “women’s genetic role in the procreation of generations and their issues of equality.

“As a creator of images, I take symbolic liberties with emerging archeological/genetic evidence about women and imaginatively blend the result with contemporary/culture issues of equality.”

Flenniken said he has been taking a break with the holidays and turning his attention to more of an online presence since his two galleries have closed.

“I’m working more with combining digital works with painting and enjoying the results,” he said. “I still have experimenting to do, but I’m starting to settle into working more after retiring from teaching.”

• Sue Lopez of Hot Springs Village has a pastel titled 79 It Is in the exhibit.

“This is my first Small Works on Paper show entry,” said Lopez, who is 80.

“I am retired from the field of accounting. My entry into the art world was in 2000, when I enrolled in a class called Drawing for Dummies at the [Arkansas Arts Center] in Little Rock,” she said.

“Having never attempted to draw or paint, I was surprised to see what I could do when shown the proper techniques,” she said. “A couple years later, I met Suzy Patton, owner of The Mansion Gallery in west Little Rock. She was the perfect instructor for me. Starting first with pastels and then oils, I studied with her until she moved to Florida two or three years later.

“Working with these two mediums, I have no real specialty. My style is realism. I especially enjoy doing portraits, but also flowers, pets, landscapes and just all things beautiful.”

Lopez said her piece in the Small Works on Paper exhibit is “a pastel, a self-portrait done from a selfie taken on my 79th birthday, hence, the title.

“I paint from photos. I am originally from Oklahoma, lived in North Little Rock for many years before moving to the Village. I decided to explore painting after the death of my husband.”

• Nina Louton of Hot Springs has a watercolor titled Nic in the show.

Louton said this is the fourth time her work has been accepted into the Small Works on Paper exhibit.

“I’m extremely pleased to be in it this year,” she said. “It’s difficult to get in. I enter it every year.”

Louton is a graduate of Henderson State University with degrees in elementary education, art and special education. After raising three children and retiring from 29 years of teaching in the Mountain Pine School District, Louton began to focus on art.

“I do all kinds of art,” she said. “I like pottery, oils, acrylics, watercolor and pastels. I probably do my best work in oils.”

Louton is president of the Traditional Art Guild in the Hot Springs area and exhibits her work at the Artists’ Workshop Gallery in Hot Springs.

These five local artists are among the 36 artists selected for the 2017 Small Works on Paper touring exhibition.

Now in its 30th year, 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.

The entries for the 2017 Small Works on Paper traveling exhibit were juried by David Houston, executive director of The Bo Bartlett Center at Columbus State University’s College of the Arts in Columbus, Georgia.

The exhibit will open Wednesday and continue through Feb. 24 at the Alma Performing Arts Center, 103 E. Main St. in Alma. Call (479) 632-2129 for more information.

The remainder of the 2017 Small Works on Paper touring schedule includes the following dates:

• March 6-27: Northwest Arkansas Community College, 1 College Drive in Bentonville. Call (479) 636-9222.

• April 5-28: The William F. Laman Public Library, 2801 Orange St. in North Little Rock. Call (501) 758-1720. A reception is scheduled at this location from 6-8 p.m. April 7.

• May 3-29: Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas, 1000 Campus Road in Helena. Call (870) 338-6474.

• June 3 through July 11: The Arts Council of Mississippi County, 306 W. Main St. in Blytheville. Call (870) 762-1744.

• July 20 through Aug. 26: The Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, 701 Main St. in Pine Bluff. Call (870) 536-3375.

• Sept. 4-29: Southern Arkansas University, 100 E. University St. in Magnolia. Call (870) 235-4000.

• Oct. 5-26: Ouachita Baptist University, 410 Ouachita St. in Arkadelphia. Call (870) 245-5000.

• Nov. 6-24: Southern Arkansas University Tech, 6415 Spellman Road in East Camden. Call (870) 574-4500.

For more information on Small Works on Paper, visit the website or call (501) 324-9767.