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story.lead_photo.caption Judith Beale, center, works on a painting in her home studio in Jacksonville as her friends and fellow artists Sandra Marson of Jacksonville, left, and Charlotte Rierson of Fairfield Bay encourage Beale. The three artists were friends in high school and have reconnected through their love of art. - Photo by Staci Vandagriff

Judith Beale, Sandra Marson and Charlotte Rierson have been friends since they were students at Jacksonville High School during the 1960s. They have rekindled their friendship through art.

The three artists will participate in an exhibit of their work that will open Friday at the Argenta Branch of the William F. Laman Public Library System in North Little Rock. The exhibit, Three Artists — Three Visions, will feature 10 paintings by each artist. The opening reception is set for 5-8 p.m. during the Third Friday Argenta Artwalk; there is no admission charge.

Each artist will feature an element of design: Line, by Beale; Color, by Marson; and Texture, by Rierson.

Beale, a daughter of the late Pete W. Dupree Jr. and Lorene Harrison Dupree, graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1964. Marson, a daughter of Blanche Morden, 96, and the late Leonard Morden, graduated in 1962. Rierson, a daughter of the late Clarence and Lola Bailey, graduated in 1961.

They all were baton twirlers at Jacksonville High School; Rierson taught the other two when they were in junior high school.

“Charlotte was a featured twirler,” Marson said, smiling. “Judy and I were majorettes.”

At one time, all three attended majorette camps at Arkansas State University. Rierson taught baton twirling while she was in high school and eventually opened her own dance studio in Jacksonville. Beale would go on to be a featured twirler at the University of Arkansas for a couple of years.

“We were all creative but took different paths after high school,” Beale said. “I am very happy that we have found our friendship just as strong as it was in high school.”

Marson said, “Judy and I always remained in touch through the years. I ran into Charlotte at a Mid-Southern Watercolorists meeting in 2008. Since then, we have attended MSW meetings and workshops together.”

Rierson added, “We have traded in our batons for artist brushes.”

Beale was born in Little Rock but grew up in Jacksonville, where she lives today with her husband, Danny Beale; she lived in Memphis for many years before returning to Jacksonville about 10 years ago. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where she majored in art history and art, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Memphis, where she majored in studio arts with a concentration in painting. She was a free-lance illustrator for a few years while also working in family-owned insurance and real estate businesses.

Beale has a background in illustration. She has two illustrated literary maps of the state of Arkansas that were published by the Library of Congress. The first map was on display in the Library of Congress after appearing in a national traveling exhibit in the 1990s.

She said her love of art history and concern for the relevance and goals of the modern museum system are reflected in the Museum Series drawings appearing in the upcoming exhibit. Unrelated current works in watercolor, acrylics and mixed media will also be featured in the show.

Beale has been juried into many national competitions and has won awards for her works in various mediums.

Marson was also born in Little Rock and grew up in Jacksonville, where she started the third grade.

“Of the three of us, I’m the one who stayed here,” she said, laughing. After high school graduation, she started a career with First Electric Cooperative Jacksonville and retired in 2008 as a senior distribution designer after 36 years. She seriously began her art career after retirement.

She began college while she was working and raising a family and graduated in 1991 from UALR with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in art.

Marson creates works that are colorful and usually abstract in design. She said she has been influenced by a collection of underwater photos she took while diving in the Caribbean.

“My abstract designs are based on my knowledge of the elements of design and my instincts,” Marson said. “The elements — or rules — of composition are shape, color, line, rhythm, texture, balance and harmony. All the elements work together, but I feel one element should dominate. I am drawn to colors. My whole existence revolves around color — what I wear, how I decorate my home, what I paint.

“Colors evoke an emotional response,” Marson said. “Vibrant colors are energetic, interesting and active. I paint with layers of colors woven throughout the paintings. My designs are usually overall patterning with no special center of interest. The painting has to work as a whole. Rules weaken creativity; therefore, rules are made to be broken.”

Marson has received numerous awards over the past several years from juried shows of the Mid-Southern Watercolorists and the Arkansas League of Artists.

Rierson was born in Searcy but grew up in Jacksonville. She has a Bachelor of Science in Education degree with an emphasis in art from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

She has lived in various parts of the United States and even spent several years in Germany, where her husband, Don Bailey, was stationed with the Air Force. After returning to the United States, Bailey was stationed at the Little Rock Air Force Base until his retirement. After retiring, the couple moved to Fairfield Bay, where they continue to live.

Rierson refers to her career as her “art spirit journey,” which has led her from choreographing and teaching the dance arts to expressing her thoughts and emotions through painting.

“Art is a passion for me,” she said. “I love experimenting with texture, layers and various mediums. My subject matter is usually landscapes influenced by living in Fairfield Bay.”

Rierson has won numerous awards for her paintings, and her works are in the permanent collections of the Arkansas Arts Council’s Small Works on Paper, the Clinton Presidential Library, UCA and the Historical Arkansas Museum. She coordinates the art exhibits at the North Central Arkansas Art Gallery at the Fairfield Bay Conference Center.

The Argenta Branch Galley of the Laman Library is at 420 Main St. in North Little Rock. Regular gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday; and closed Sunday.

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


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