Art arrives

Published 6:51 pm Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Christmas has come early to the Johnson Center for the Arts.

The staff was busy Wednesday afternoon unpacking boxes of shipped artwork that will be a part of the Center’s “Celebrating Contemporary Art in Alabama” exhibition, Aug. 14 to Nov. 8, 2009.

The exhibition will include 41 award winning Alabama artists, who are recipients of the Alabama State Council on the Arts Fine Arts and Crafts Fellowship Awards. Many of the artists have gone on to achieve the distinction of Alabama Masters.

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“It’s like Christmas,” said Wiley White, Center development director. “Opening the boxes of artwork is like opening presents with something wonderful inside. This is the first of several shipments that we will receive and each shipment will be just as exciting.”

While White carefully unpacked Marilee Keys’ “Cat Whiskers” sculpture, Richard Metzger, Center director, and Duane Paxson, Troy sculptor, were busy directing the hanging of Paxon’s “Jelly Bean Angels.”

“Artists are very particular about their work,” White said. “They include detailed instructions with their work, such as wearing gloves to unwrap the artwork. Marilee Keys’ directions are very exact as to how to replace the whiskers if some are dislodged. She even included extra whiskers in case some are lost.

“The general public doesn’t realize how much work has gone into these pieces. This exhibit will include some of the most outstanding artwork by some of Alabama’s most outstanding artists. And we are handing it with care.”

White’s eyes often strayed for the task at hand to admire Paxon’s work that seemingly dances across the wall.

“When the exhibit opens, artwork will cover the walls and the floors and hang from the ceiling,” White said. “It will be an amazing exhibit.”

Several artists have delivered their artwork to the Johnson Center.

Artist Gary Chapman brought his artwork to the art center along with the work of three other artists, as did sculpor, Pamela Venz and both had high praise for the Johnson Center.

“These artists are what I call the ‘rock stars’ of Alabama art,” White said. “They’ve shown everywhere and yet they have been blown away by the gallery. They come here not expecting to find an exempliary art center, and they are amazed at the space. They are excited to exhibit here, and it’s so exciting for the Johnson Center to be able to offer such an incredible exhibit.”

Most of the 41 exhibiting artists will have from three to four pieces in the “Celebrating Contemporary Art in Alabama” exhibition. However, there are several artists who have large pieces and will exhibit only one.

“Michael Simpson, a video artist, has a piece that is in three sections,” White said.

“Russell Everett’s soapstone sculpture is a big piece. Of course, the pieces that he shows at TroyFest are the smaller sculptures, and they are very popular with visitors to the arts and crafts show.”

Three of Scott Myers ceramic and wood sculptures are in place at the art center and are creating a lot of interest.

“All of the artists are exceptional and they work hard in creating their art. People ought to appreciate their talent,” White said.

“I think those who attend the ‘Celebrating Contemporary Art in Alabama’ exhibition will come away with a deep appreciation of our Alabama artists.”