As a writer, I regularly face a black page, working to fill it with insights about the world around me. In the same way, my artist friends stare down a blank canvas before they fill it with color and the interpretations of their creative spirit.
Jurors face blank gallery walls, waiting to be filled with fresh artwork. Yet it can be a daunting task to sift through hundreds of images to determine an exhibition's final pieces of two- and three-dimensional artwork.
Soon, the final pieces chosen for the St. Tammany Art Association's 51st National Juried Artists Exhibition will hang on the walls of the non-profit's Miriam Barranger Gallery. Better known as The Summer Show, it will open July 9 with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. It will run through Aug. 20, when Covington will hold its second annual White Linen Night.
The Summer Show is open to artists nationwide who must submit works completed within the past two years. This year, 150 artists from around the country submitted 382 images for consideration by juror Mark Biletnikoff. Ultimately, 35 pieces by 34 artists were chosen, said Roberta Carrow-Jackson, the Summer Show's chairwoman.
Among them are 11 artists from St. Tammany Parish: Cariappa Annaiah of Mandeville, Carolyn Biggio of Covington, Emily Binder of Slidell, Cissy Carville of Covington, Belinda Flores-Shinshillas of Mandeville, Charles Gudaitis of Slidell, Len Heatherly of Slidell, Bernard Mattox of Folsom, James Overby of Covington, Robert Warrens of Mandeville, and Francesca Windsor of Mandeville.
They'll be joined by 10 artists from across Louisiana: Jennifer Carwile of Baton Rouge; Shanna Dantonio of Hammond; Michael Eble of Lafayette; Leslie and Michael Elliott-Smith, both of Alexandria; Loveday Funck of Denham Springs; John Green of Franklinton; Gina Laguna of Metairie; Emily Morse of Franklinton; and Otto Ochs of Hammond. Other accepted artists hail from the nearby states of Mississippi and Texas, as well as California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico and North Carolina.
The artists will show a mix of two- and three-dimensional selections: oil and acrylic paintings, drawings, digital art, and photography, as well as mixed media assemblage and wood, ceramic, steel and mixed media sculptures.
"Some are abstract, some realist, and some surrealist. It will be an interesting blend," Carrow-Jackson said.
Biletnikoff will choose the show winners after the pieces are hung. An artist and arts promoter who has degrees in visual art from Southeastern University and arts administration from the Savannah College of Art and Design, he annually jurors the U.S. Congressional Art Competition, as well as competitions for the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences.
While Biletnikoff's own work hangs in private collection across the United States, it's his efforts to promote the arts in Baton Rouge that have become his passion.
"Many use art history when describing today's artists...while I promote art future and highlight the diversity of today's artists, whose visions are built upon experience, talent, passion and the culmination of how they perceive the world around them," he said in a statement about The Summer Show.
He believes artists should be able to display what they create and his work in Baton Rouge shows that. In 2005, he founded N the art space to provide studio space and exposure to more than 40 artists and to support small art businesses. Begun in an 800-square foot space, it has expanded to a 13,000-square foot facility.
In 2014, Biletnikoff created the state-certified Bocage Cultural District. In 2015, he opened The Biletnikoff Gallery, giving emerging and professional artists from the region a place to show their work.
In an effort to better promote The Summer Show's artists, this year STAA will highlight some of them through its social media channels.
"We think this will ultimately give more lasting exposure to all the artists, generate more discussions, and give out-of-state artists an opportunity to learn more about STAA and the others in the exhibit," Carrow-Jackson said.
The Summer Show's winners will be given a total of $3,250 in prize money, Carrow-Jackson said, including the $1,000 "Miriam Barranger Best of Show Award" sponsored by Heather Barranger Case. Other award sponsors include Henry and Gail Hood, Maggie McConnell, Carlos Sanchez, and Roberta Bruck, PhD. Cathy Deano is this year's exhibition sponsor.
An additional People's Choice Award will be given during the closing reception. The winner will be determined by guests who vote for their favorite piece during the duration of the exhibition. Plans for a gallery talk are in the works with a date and time to be announced.
All events for the 51st National Juried Artists Exhibition will take place at STAA's Art House, 320 N. Columbia St., Covington. For more information, call 985.892.8650 or visit sttammanyartassociation.org.
In other STAA news, the non-profit is seeking more volunteers for several board committees, including the group that selects exhibitions. Anyone with experience in mounting an exhibition, or who has been interested in learning how to, should contact STAA at email@example.com.
On the Horizon
• School's out for summer. Send your organization or business' summer cultural and arts activities to help beat the boredom blues to firstname.lastname@example.org. They'll be included in upcoming columns.
• Summer at the St. Tammany Art Association's Art House continues with Theater Camp for ages 6 to 12 will take place July 11 to 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Mandeville Trailhead. The production of "Jungle Book" will give kids a chance to experience acting in a professional setting. Cost is $175 for members and $185 for non-members. For more information, call 985.892.8650 or visit sttammanyartassociation.org.
• Calling all student filmmakers... The Pontchartrain Film Festival is seeking submissions for its Student Short Film Showcase! Students in state high schools and colleges can 15-minute-or-less films into the fifth annual showcase. The early bird deadline is July 1, and entries can be accepted until Sept. 19. Filmmakers will be notified if their works will be sc reened for competition by Oct. 10. For more information, email PFF assistant director Caterina Picone at email@example.com or visit pontchartrainfilmfestival.com.
• STAA has announced its July educational events for adults. "Hand Building Functional Ceramic Vessels" will take place Tuesdays and Thursdays July 5 to 28 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. The eights session class with artist and instructor Richard Lo Piccolo will explore different hand building techniques, textures and tool making. Cost is $275 for STAA members and $285 for non-members, supplies included. Instructor Vanessa Hock will lead students through "Pottery Wheel Throwing" July 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 6 to 8:30 p.m., or July 11, 18, 25 and Aug. 1 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Cost is $125 for STAA members and $135 for non-members. All sessions will take place at the Art House, 320 N. Columbia St., Covington. For more information, call 985.892.8650 or visit sttammanyartassociation.org.
• Painting with a Twist, Slidell , will host two one-week-long kids painting camps for ages 6 to 12 featuring Van Gogh July 18 to 22 at their location, 2132 Gause Blvd., Ste. 16, Slidell. Both camps run from 9 a.m. to noon and cost $200 per child. For more information, call 985.605.0363 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Calling all artists! The City of Mandeville is calling for artwork for the poster for the 5th Annual Mandeville's Marigny OctoberFeast. The event celebrates the community's bounty of food, wine and art and commemorates the birthday of the city's founder, Bernard de Marigny. Organizers are looking for innovative artists to create original print images to convey the tone of the event. All entries must be submitted by July 29. The entries, which must be 11x17 or larger, will judged based on design quality, marketability and the ability to portray the event's concept. For more information, call Alia Casborne at 985.624.3127.
• Donations are still being collected to complete and inst all a large-scale sculpture of one of Covington's most famous residents, Walker Percy. The bronze sculpture by Bill Binnings will be the first project of the Public Art for Covington Fund. Contributions to the fund are tax-deductible via the Northshore Community Foundation. To donate, visit covingtonpublicart.org (click on the "donate and connect" tab).
• Artist Bernard Mattox is offering private and semi-private (two individuals) classes on the potter's wheel. The hour-and-a-half long classes are open to any skill level. Mattox has 37 years of experience teaching graduate and undergraduate students at Tulane University and children at his former STAA Mudbug sessions. The cost is $90 for private sessions or $50 per person for semi-private lessons. A minimum of eight classes is suggested. Tools, clay, glazes and firing will be offered at cost, and hand-building techniques are offered upon request. For more information, call 985.796.4114.
Sarah Bonnette is a freelance writer on Louisiana arts and culture. She may be contacted at email@example.com.
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