Entries were arriving steadily for the ninth annual Stars of Texas Juried Art Exhibit Saturday morning, but a rush of activity toward the noon deadline brought the number close to 300.

And local artists assisting with the qualification and registration process were impressed by what they were seeing.

“The quality is up tremendously this year,” Mary Cadenhead said. “I’m impressed.”

Officials said entries have been received from several areas that have not been represented in previous years, an indication that the reputation of the exhibit has spread.

Many of the paintings are the popular, larger scale works which have become more common in recent years. In addition, several unique pieces of sculpture have been submitted.

Walter Middleton, who was helping with registration of artists’ work, said the count was at 274 with just minutes prior to the noon cutoff, and perhaps a dozen more items were still in line to be processed.

Entries in this year’s show, which will be open to the public at the Depot Civic and Cultural Center Feb. 4-17, were accepted Friday evening and Saturday morning. Now, they will go before this year’s juror, Stanley Irvin, associate professor of art at St. Edwards University in Austin. Cash awards will be presented at an awards ceremony at the Depot at 7 p.m. Feb. 9.

Prizes range from $1,000 to $100.

The show will be highlighted by demonstrations conducted by various artists throughout the exhibit, along with the second annual Paint-Off competition scheduled Feb. 10. The public is invited to observe those events, and the exhibit itself, at no charge.

Under a new rule for this year, all art exhibited must be for sale. All sales will be handled through the Arts Council of Brownwood, and a 20 percent donation is required for sales generated by the exhibition.

The exhibit is supported by the City of Brownwood, the Arts Council of Brownwood, Jane Ellen Jamar and the Kohler Company.