By Josh Whitener
The Matthews Artists Guild’s new exhibit is bringing out the best of the best.
MAG is launching its annual members-only, competitive art show and will host an opening reception and awards ceremony Saturday, May 11, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the McDowell Arts Center, 123 McDowell St. Awards will be given at 4 p.m., and the reception is free and open to the public.
Dozens of MAG members have contributed some of their best artwork to the show, which will remain on display in the McDowell Arts Center gallery through the end of the month. Community members can visit the center to view the artwork Monday to Friday, 1 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m. Admission is free.
The show features a plethora of 2-D artwork, including pastel, oil and watercolor paintings, photography including digital photographs printed on aluminum, mixed medium art and collages. The pieces entered cover a broad spectrum of subjects, including landscapes, life drawings – or drawings of people – wildlife, “amusing” pieces with a “great sense of humor” and a few abstract pieces, MAG President Debbie Yacenda said.
Yacenda said the photography on aluminum and a large charcoal sketch of a man smoking a cigar are some of the more unique pieces in the show.
“I appreciate them, they’re good and they’re not the traditional type,” she said.
Yacenda said the show is important for MAG members because it encourages them to showcase their best artwork. The only restrictions are the artwork entered must have been created within the past two years and can’t have been entered into any previous show or competition.
“(The show) is important because it makes you bring out your best, examine your artwork, your collection, and say, ‘What am I most proud of?’” she said. “It gives you time to reflect on all you’ve
done and see what (you) think is the best.”
Awards will be given for first, second and third place as well as eight honorable mentions. MAG always recruits an outside expert to judge the show, with this year’s guest judge being local painter Brian Neher, who recently spoke at a MAG meeting.
“He’s successful and knows what he’s doing,” Yacenda said.
In addition to Neher’s picks, Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor will choose one piece to receive the Mayor’s Choice Award. Taylor has served as a special guest judge for three years, which gives the guild a chance to connect with Matthews officials, Yacenda said.
“He only picks what he likes,” she said. “His choices are wonderful, too. They’re usually (pieces) that the judges don’t pick. He sees it different, sees it as a layman, so we love that and we love his choices, too.”
Yacenda encourages community members to come to the reception and visit the gallery during the week to view the artwork – most of which is available to purchase.
“Art is for everyone,” She said. “Some people are intimidated because people think you have to know something (about art) or like everything, but just come find that painting that speaks to you.”
For more information, call the McDowell Arts Center at 704-321-7275 or go to www.matthewsartistguild.blogspot.com.