The first-place winner in West Main Artists Co-op’s first four-state juried art exhibit -- WMAC 2019 -- is Cindy Shute of Lockhart, SC, for her oil-on-linen painting Peacemaker: Hrair Balian. She receives a cash prize of $2,500 that was given in memory of Frank P. Cyrill, Jr.
Second prize of $1,000 was taken by Gordon Dohm of Greenville, SC, for his photograph Fungi Fantasy. And, third-place of $500 was won by Tracey M. Timmons of Spartanburg, SC, for Manacle of Justice, a bracelet made of vitreous enamel, copper, silver, brass, and photography.
The seven merit awards of $100 and $250 went to Mark Flowers of Alexander, NC; Lee Sipe of Columbia, SC; Sabrina Barilone of Macon, GA; Tom Dimond of Seneca, SC; Christina Dixon of Roebuck, SC; David Stuart of North Augusta, SC; and Martha Worth of Hilton Head, SC.
WMAC 2019 opened on Saturday, Sept. 14, and will close on Saturday, Oct. 19. It was open to all adult visual artists in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. Two-hundred-forty-one (241) artists from the four states applied, and 66 were admitted into the show based on the judgement of jurors Ann DerGara and Mike Vatalaro.
The winners were announced on Saturday, Sept. 21, during a reception and awards ceremony. Seventy-four (74) works of art in this exhibit are on display at the Co-op, which is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. There is no charge to see the exhibitions.
“We could not be happier with our first juried show,” Chair, Beth Regula said. “This is something we had wanted to do for several years, and it took more than a year of planning, but it was worth it. Having a show of this magnitude and with these cash prizes establishes West Main Artists Co-op as an art agency that is leading Spartanburg in its quest to be an art Mecca in South Carolina and throughout the South. It says we have the creativity, the knowhow, the professionalism, the resources, and the desire to take the Co-op to the next level. Next year will be even better!”
“I’m so excited to be a part of WMAC’s world,” Shute said. “This first exhibition was as professionally conducted as I have ever seen. When I was told I was Best in Show, at the time, honestly, I was shocked. It’s not that I didn’t think my painting is good. As a professional artists mature, we know our good work from our less successful efforts — I think that’s a key part of being a professional. So I wasn’t surprised to have been included in the show.
“When I arrived that evening and saw the body of work I was thrilled. Virtually every piece in the exhibition is good — very good. A couple of pieces took my breath away. So, I felt particularly honored to be included. With Peacemaker, I had pushed myself into a new space with portraiture. In my early work I tended to avoid background, contextual elements, thinking at the time that the subject should convey their story a priori — that the essence of the sitter should be codified in the presentation of their likeness, and if successful, the minimalist approach would say everything that needed to be said. So this new approach for me, including symbolic elements to tell the story, was a big leap.
“I honestly feel validated,” she continued. “I wasn’t sure if the piece worked. So now I’m really charged up about this new direction, and ready to take on more portrait-stories. And I’m so very grateful to WMAC for giving me a big hug along the way!”
The Co-op is a membership-based nonprofit arts agency with more than 50 members, who are visual artists and performing artists. It is housed in a former Baptist church near downtown Spartanburg on West Main Street. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Co-op houses 31 artists studios, two stages, three galleries, a printery, a ceramics studio, and the largest collection of for-sale locally made art in Spartanburg. Each month, the Co-op normally installs three exhibits by its members and guest artists.
In their jurors’ statements, DerGara said: “ I am amazed at the quality of work that was entered. I think that opening the show to additional states has made this become an important show for the region and Spartanburg. The arts are growing rapidly in the region and this show will make Spartanburg known as art venue as well as Asheville and Greenville. As the Arts grow so does the economy. WMAC produced this show and jury with professionalism and expertise.”
Vatalaro said: “The very nature of a juried exhibition celebrates a broad range of medium and imagery. I enjoyed the task of identifying works that well represented the mediums chosen, techniques accomplished and the subjects investigated. The exhibition reveals a broad selection of work which I believe demonstrate an individual vision within both conventional and experimental genres. I was very impressed by the quality and richness demonstrated in all of the mediums displayed. I hope you will find each work invites close examination and has something unique to offer.”
A list of all accepted work can be found online at WestMainArtists.org
“This is a vast and diverse show,” Regula said. “I invite the public to come see it and to take in the talent and creativity that surrounds us here in the South. A large show such as this one, expands our appreciation for the art that is readily available to us. It makes a statement that West Main Artists Co-op are striving and succeeding at making Spartanburg THE art community in South Carolina and beyond.”