Slidell Art League to honor its 2016 Artists of the Year in show

For two of the artists being recognized as Slidell Art League's Artists of the Year, art is a passion they discovered as children. For the third artist, it is a hobby begun to remain active during her retirement years. 

Each year the non-profit arts group names three artists whose work has garnered attention through monthly meetings and exhibitions. For 2016, Robin Miller-Bookhout will be honored as Master Artist of the Year, along with Dolores Crain as the Apprentice Artist of the Year. Mary Ann Fabich will be given the Inspirational Artist of the Year award.

The artists will be celebrated with an exhibition of their work at the Cultural Center at Slidell City Hall, 2055 Second St. The show will open Aug. 19 with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. and continue until Sept. 22. Gallery hours are Wednesdays to Fridays from noon to 4 p.m.

Recognition as the Master, Apprentice or Inspirational Artist of the Year comes by the number of points an artist receives during the course of the nonprofit's year, which runs from July to June. Artists, who either register at the beginning of each year in the master or apprentice category, can get points for a piece of artwork submitted as part of a monthly competition among SAL members.

Mary Ann Fabich, SAL's Inspirational Artist of the Year, often paints scenes of old boats as can be seen in "Windmill on Lake." (Sarah Bonnette photo) 

Points also are given for awards won at juried or competition shows, as well as art patrons' or corporations' purchase awards. The artists in each category with most points over the course of the nonprofits' year earn the designation.

"I'm just humbled and honored" Miller-Bookhout said.

She moved to Slidell about two years ago after retiring from 30 years of teaching art in North Little Rock, Arkansas schools.

"I have just fallen for the people here, she said. "They embraced me, and I have embraced them."

She still often takes off to satisfy her self-described "travel bug."

Miller-Bookhout went to France this summer with a group and painted oil pieces en plein air. Yet, she most often creates artwork from inspiring scenes closer to home.

"Most of my inspiration comes from living on Lake Pontchartrain and Bayou Faciane. Every morning I wake up and see this beautiful flora and fauna," she said. 

Miller-Bookhout usually creates with oil pastels or watercolor, which she said it is her preferred medium because – although difficult to master – it is "so spontaneous and free-spirited. You never know what's going to happen."

As a teacher, she said she loved to watch kindergarteners work with watercolors – given to them because of they easily be cleaned up – and see what the young artists created.  

Slidell Art League named Dolores Crain as its Apprentice Artist of the Year for 2016. Crain, who will display the painting "Vase of Flowers with Pears" along with other pieces, said she works in all mediums.  

Teaching art, Miller-Bookhout said, was a way of "giving back what was given to me," referring to the retired art teacher her parents found for her at 8-year's old.

"My mother and father wanted me to enjoy the 'aesthetics,' so they looked for private instruction for me in the performing arts. It was apparent after only a few short weeks of piano and dance classes that this was not at all the avenue for me to find my hidden talents or future dreams," she said in her artist's statement.

"Instead I started in art and have always loved it," she added.

Crain's love of art began as the oldest of nine children. With a dad in the Air Force, they spent time between the family farm in Florida and stations overseas.

"We created things out of cards; the chicken cages became installations," she said of her upbringing.

Those childhood adventures lead Crain to study art in college and earn a master's in fine arts from Florida State. Yet the difficulty of pursuing a viable career in art turned her away from her creative pursuits. That is until two years ago, when she began painting again to rehabilitate an injured wrist.

"At this stage of my life, I am consumed by art. It is like reaching back into my childhood, who ran through pastures, who explored every nook and cranny, and who abandoned all rules of logic. When I awaken this child, through art, I become free to experiment, explore, and imagine. Art is a journey to the best part of me, my inner child," she said in her artist statement.

That journey takes Crain from medium to medium. One day it may be photography, the next painting or creating three-dimensional pieces.

"I seem to have more passion for it now than I did," she said. "At this stage of life, when one wants to feel normal and organized and steady, creating art allows me to be freer."

Becoming an artist is something Fabich did not think about until retiring from the years she spent as an Air Force spouse traveling the world with her husband, working at the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs Hospital in Milwaukee after his retirement, raising seven children, volunteering at church and acting in community theater. 

"A person can clean the house or pick sea shells from the beach just so many times a day," she said.

Then her eldest daughter, Caren, gave her a new hobby to pursue in the form of a Christmas gift of colored pencils, watercolors and other art supplies.

"Some of my children are artists, and I never could figure out where they got it from. But they said to me: 'We've been saving your doodles from when we were kids. Now it's your turn'," Fabich said. "The kids recognized (my talent) but I didn't."

Art supplies in hand, she began researching and learning from art classes on the Internet and visiting online galleries for inspiration. Her favorite subjects to paint in her preferred acrylic medium include old boats, as well as flowers and landscapes.

"I have to give all the credit to SAL member Elaine Mercer," Fabich said of the Slidell artist and former SAL Artist of the Year who encouraged her to join the group when Fabich moved to Slidell to be closer to family.

New members are welcome to join SAL; memberships are $40 for individuals or $50 for families. The arts group meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, 1534 Seventh St., Slidell. Entries for its Artist of the Month competition must be registered by 6:40 p.m. For more information on SAL, call 985.326.3405, email or visit 


On the Horizon

  • Visit the Rolland Golden Gallery in its new location for a special exhibition during the month of August. "Remembering Katrina" will feature pieces completed by Golden in the aftermath of the devastating 2005 hurricane. The gallery is now located at 317 N. Columbia St., Covington. Summer hours are Wednesdays to Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment. For more information, call 985.888.6588 or visit
  • Calling all artists! This fall, the Hammond Regional Arts Center will hold an exhibition entitled, "COPYCAT," intended to spark debate about art world issues: forgery, copyright, and authorship. Anchoring this juried exhibition will be three works on loan from the LSU Museum of Art by the infamous forger, Mark Landis, the subject of the documentary "Art & Craft." The deadline for entries for artists is Aug. 12. The prospectus can be found at
  • Add to your art collection at the next Madisonville Art Market Aug. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. along Water Street. For more information, call 985.871.4918 or email
  • Mark your calendars for Covington's second annual White Linen Night Aug. 20 from 6 to 9 p.m throughout downtown. The night will benefit the Public Art for Covington Fund. Look for more details in an upcoming ArtScape column.       
  • Don't forget to vote for the viewer's choice award during the St. Tammany Art Association's 51st National Juried Artists Exhibition, better known as "The Summer Show" in the Miriam Barranger Gallery at the Art House, 320 N. Columbia St., Covington. The show will continue through Aug. 20, with a closing event during Covington's White Linen Night. For more information, visit call 985.892.8650 or visit
  • A new exhibition, entitled "Watercolor Through New Eyes," will open Aug. 20 with a reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at The Atrium Gallery at Christwood, 100 Christwood Blvd., Covington. The show will feature pieces from the students enrolled in Christwood's watercolor class, as well as works by its instructor, Laura Mitchell. Gallery hours are Mondays to Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit
  • Helping Hands Gallery will host "Art with a Heart," a one-day exhibition, Aug. 21 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Heritage Bank, 205 N. Columbia St., Covington. The exhibition of art for sale will unite the talented resources of participating artists in order to enhance the quality of life of everyone we touch. Proceeds will benefit the St. Tammany Hospital Hospice Art & Music Therapy Program. Reservations are requested for planning purposes. For more information or to make a reservation, call 985.231.5300 or email
  • Christwood Retirement Community will host a Third Sunday Summer Concert Aug. 21 at 5 p.m. in the Atrium Gallery. Encore! will perform. The concert is free and open to the public.
  • Onstage in Covington presents "An Evening with Danny Kaye" Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Fuhrmann Auditorium, 317 N. Jefferson St., Covington. For more information, call 985.867.1206.
  • Are you a fan of art? Show STAA! Until Aug. 26, pick up a fan from STAA, take a photo with your STAA Art Fan and enter to win a one-year family membership to STAA by sharing your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #imanartfan. For more information on how to enter, rules & family membership benefits, visit
  •  "There's No Place Like Home," the latest exhibition of the St. Tammany Hospital Foundation's Healing Arts Rotating Galleries at St. Tammany Parish Hospital, will continue until Sept. 5. It showcases the work of several local artists: Ferris Hotard, Peggy Hesse, Sue Zaunbrecher, Susan Tullos, Georgia Trist, E.J. Estapa and Erin Rode-Fiorello. For more information on the Healing Arts Initiative, visit
  • Calling all artists! The Youth Service Bureau, in partnership with STAA, will select the artist for the 2017 Chef Soirée poster through a public contest for the second year in a row. The March 19, 2017, event at the Covington Trailhead will help YSB provide services for at-risk youth and families in St. Tammany and Washington Parishes. Artists must reside or work in either St. Tammany Parish or Washington Parish. Submitted creative artwork – which must fit into an 11x14 matte opening and be on board, canvas or art paper that is no thicker than ¾ inches -- should reflect the nature of the Chef Soirée event and the mission of YSB, as well as the event location. No neon, florescent or metallic colors or recognizable persons should be depicted. The original artwork should be signed by the artist. It should allow room for numbering and signing; consideration also should be given to the text incorporated into the final image for posters. A panel of judges will select three submiss ions as finalists. Artists may be asked to deliver artwork to the STAA Art House for an in-person viewing before finalists are selected. The three finalists' work will be recognized through media opportunities, and the artists may be asked to do media interviews, including live television. By submitting artwork, artists will allow YSB to take full ownership of the artwork if it is selected as a top three finalist. Artists are also consenting to allow YSB to use artwork in any and all promotional materials, media opportunities and public displays. All finalists' original work may also be auctioned at a YSB fundraiser.  The winning artist must be available for a poster production meeting with Mele Printing, and must be available to sign posters in the months leading up to the event. The deadline to submit original artwork is Sept. 9 at 5 p.m. To submit art, email a .jpg file of the piece – titled with the artist's first and last name – along with an artist biography to chefsoiree For more information, visit
  • 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. Entries can be accepted until Sept. 19. Filmmakers will be notified if their works will be screened for competition by Oct. 10. For more information, email PFF assistant director Caterina Picone at or visit 
  • Get one before they're gone! Individual tickets for STAA's event – Palette 2 Palate – are now on sale. The event will combine the art of James Michalopoulos, whose exhibition runs from September 10 through October 1, with the tastes and smells of Chef Kim's local culinary creations. Guests will spend the evening with the artist and chef, share in their creative processes and explore the connection between the visual and culinary arts. All raised funds benefit STAA in its mission to provide arts education, cultural programming and fine art exhibitions. Seating is limited; tickets are $180 ($175 ticket price plus $5 sales tax) per person. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit
  • Calling all musicians! Dust off your instrument and register for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra's Play Dat! Sept. 24 at Holy Cross School in New Orleans. Play Dat! is an annual side-by-side concert in which more than 100 musicians and students from around the community rehearse and perform with the LPO. Music is provided for basic, intermediate and advanced skill levels to encourage a broad range of community members to participate. Conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto will lead the concert. The rehearsal will take place at 10 a.m., followed by the performance at 2:30 p.m. Cost is $50 for ages 19 and up and $30 for ages 16-18. Fee includes music, a Play Dat! participant t-shirt, and lunch with LPO musicians. For more information or to register, visit
  • Calling all artists! The East St. Tammany Cultural Economy Coalition is seeking artwork for its upcoming exhibition, "Stop the Madness: Artists' Voices. Critical Conversations," will open Nov. 18 and continue to Dec. 23 at the Slidell Cultural Center at City Hall, 2055 Second St. The exhibition will be a powerful look at polarizing situations and world-changing events taking place locally, nationally and around the globe, as seen through the eyes of participating artists. It's a collection of works created by artists, designed to spark critical conversations. Artwork submissions are due by Oct. 6. For more information and a prospectus, email
  • Register for STAA's latest classes! All classes for ages 18 and up will take place at the Art House, 320 N. Columbia St., Covington. For a full class description or register, visit  

o   "Pottery Wheel Throwing" with Vanessa Hock will take place in four-week sessions: Saturdays Aug. 27 and Sept. 3, 10 and 17 or Oct. 8, 15, 22 and 29 from 9 to 1 a.m. or Mondays Aug. 29 and Sept. 5, 12 and 19 or Oct. 3, 10, 17 and 24 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Cost is $135 or $125 STAA members (supplies included).

o   "Drawing Moving Forward: Intermediate Level" with Inga Clough Falterman will be Tuesdays Sept. 6 to Oct. 11 from 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $160 or $150 STAA members.

o   "Handbuilding Functional Ceramic Vessels" with Richard LoPiccolo will be Tuesdays and Thursdays Sept. 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27 and 29 or Oct. 4, 6, 11, 13, 18, 20, 25 and 27. Class times are 1 to 3 p.m. Cost is $235 or $225 for members.

o   "Oil Painting: The Still Life" with Ryan Perea will be Wednesdays Sept. 7, 14, 21, 28, Oct. 5 and 12 from 6 to 9 p.m. Cost is $235 or $225 for members.

o   "Watercolor Explorations" with Joleen Arthur Schiller will be Wednesdays Sept. 14, 21, 28, Oct. 5, 12 and 19 from 2 to 4 p.m. or Wednesdays Sept. 14, 21, 28, Oct. 5, 12 and 19 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Cost is $160 or $150 for members.

o   "Straight Up Drawing" with Inga Clough Falterman will be Thursdays Sept. 8, 15, 22, 29, Oct. 6 and 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. Cost is $160 or $150 for members.

Sarah Bonnette is a freelance writer on Louisiana arts and culture. She may be contacted at

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