It was the watercolor technique used by Granbury artist Robert W. Cook that lead Billy Hassell, juror for the 15th annual Stars of Texas Juried Art Exhibit, to select his piece, “Twilight on Bourbon,” for the $1,000 Dorothy Mayes Best of Show Award.
“I tend to have a bias toward photo based pieces, but I know how difficult watercolor is,” Hassell said. “It really came down to the mastery of the technique.”
Hassell commented how he was overwhelmed by great works and how difficult it was to narrow the selections for the exhibit. This year’s show has 387 entries entered by 174 artists and only 132 entries by 93 artists made the show.
“The hardest part was trying to figure out which pieces to keep in the show. We had more work than we could fit into the rooms," Hassell said. "There were some really great pieces that didn’t make the show, but I stand by my choices."
Hassell selected Ben Sum’s graphite piece, "They Are Not Going To Fly" to receive the $750 Texas State Optical Juror Award.
"The piece was enigmatic and humorous, unsettling and captivating," Hassell said. "This provocative piece stands alone as an excellent example of sometimes ‘less is more’ and ‘size isn’t everything.'"
Dan McGregor, of Abilene, won the $500 Don C. Martin Memorial Sculpture award with his piece, "Seraph II." Hassell noted how the piece had a whimsical sense of humor along with the ingenious engineering and attention to detail all worked together.
Brownwood Art Association’s president Melanie Naylor won the $500 Kohler Award for her oil painting, "Figs In Living Color." The combination of the abstraction and the treatment of the subject matter lead Hassell to award the piece.
Deborah Itschner, of Burnet, won the $500 Merit Award with her acrylic painting, "Sooo Relaxed," that featured a longhorn steer. Hassel stated how the longhorn was made more interesting by the way Itschner positioned the animal against the black sky, which created an element of mystery.
The $500 Larry J. Elling Memorial Photography Award went to McKee Trotter, of Ft. Worth, with his black and white photograph titled, "Blue Heron." The sharp detail of the bird in the foreground stood out sharply against the blurry background creating a three-dimensional effect, Hassell said.
Brownwood resident Kit Timmins was awarded the $500 Mary Cadenhead Pastel Award for her piece, "Lunch At The MoMA." Hassell credited her use of looseness and painterly handling of the pastel medium for the complex composition with areas of ambiguity that lend interest and tension to the pictorial space.
Erin Medellin, of Weatherford, won the $500 J. Hites Homes Inc. Merit Award with "Been There," her oil painting of several souvenir glasses. Hassell noted how the piece comes off as realistic but abstract at the same time due to the repetition of shapes and the shallow space. After addressing the audience, Hassell joking said, "I’m sure we’ve all been there."
Katy Ward, of San Angelo, won the $500 Oil Medium Award with her piece, "Fetching at Dusk," for its tactile and gestural use of the paint — the surface texture and physicality of the paint are as pronounced creating a strong tension between the two."
Ballinger resident Jean Smith Hensley won the $300 Rufus F. Stanley, Jr. Memorial Watercolor Award with her piece, "Porcelain Pink," because of its use of the medium and for the dramatic balance of abstraction and representation.
Receiving the $100 Honorable Mention awards were Jenna Murray with her small pencil drawing, "I No Longer Fly Around Your Light," Christopher Gaston with his digital painting "Qi," Pat Chaney with the traditional landscape, "Late Breaking Light," Melissa Kahout and her pencil drawing, "The Proud Horse," and L.M. Nelson with acrylic painting, "The Remuda."
Sponsors for this year’s show include the Arts Council of Brownwood, City of Brownwood, Bo and Sandra Barr, Jane Ellen Jamar, Margaret and Stuart Coleman, Big Country Ford Lincoln, Texas State Optical, Kohler Co., J. Hite Homes, Inc., the Ima Gem Queen Estate, Betty Martin, Family of Mary Cadenhead, Marcia Elling, Marla Stanley, Family of R.T. and Annis Allen and Charles and Kay Beth Stavley.
The Stars of Texas Juried Art Exhibit will be open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. today. The exhibit is free to the public and will be open for two weeks, Feb. 3-15, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.