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Johnson Center hosts watercolor exhibit

Marilyn Hughey Phillis used the phrase, “His eyes shone with the enjoyment of looking” to describe a former art instructor. However, the words could have just as easily described her as she judged the Watercolor Society of Alabama’s 69th Annual Exhibition at the Johnson Center for the Arts on Wednesday.

As juror for the exhibition, Phillis selected the show from about 300 submissions from watercolor artists from across the country.

From the 100 pieces selected for the Watercolor Society of Alabama’s 69th Annual Exhibition, Phillis chose 17 winners on Wednesday. The awards will be presented at the opening reception from 2 until 4 p.m. at the Johnson Center on Sunday, May 16.

“Entries for the exhibition were received from 21 states so this will be an exciting and well-attended exhibit by people from across the country as well as visitors from this area,” said Richard Metzger, Johnson Center executive director. “The Watercolor Society of Alabama anticipates more than $8,000 in awards will be presented to artists in the form of cash, gift certificates, merchandise and purchase selections.”

For Phillis, selecting the winners of a watercolor exhibition is never easy.

“It’s a real challenge,” she said. “I take the technical abilities of the artists for granted. They know what to do and they do it well. Even the less experienced artists have something to say.”

Phillis said some of the artists excel in execution and others speak in a very personal way. Either way, Phillis looks for a work that reveals something of the artist’s soul.

“Something unforgettable,” she said, with a smile. Phillis spent most of Wednesday morning looking at the exhibit, tagging – once, twice — the works that she thought were deserving of awards.

“There might be those who disagree with me on the selections because judging is a personal process,” Phillis said. “But I think that this exhibition would be looked upon with respect by any exhibition in the country.”

Metzger said Phillis is a highly qualified juror.

“ Marilyn Phillis is a respected instructor and juror for national and regional exhibitions,” he said. “She is a Signature member of the American Watercolor Society and the National Watercolor Society and an elected member of Watercolor West, Allied Artists of America, Society of Layerists in Multimedia and past president of both the Southern Watercolor Society and the Ohio Watercolor Society.”

Phillis has been inducted into Halls of Fame in Kent, Ohio and Wheeling, West Va.

She is the author of the best selling book, “Watermedia Techniques for Releasing the Creative Spirit” and a chapter author of “Bridging Time and Space” for the Society of Layerists in Multi-Media 1998.

Phillis is an award winning watercolor artist who began art lessons as a four-year-old.

“I guess my mother saw something in me because, at that age, what did I know?” Phillis said. “When I had to decided between a career in art or in science, I knew I had to make a living so …”

Phillis worked as a chemist before giving way to her love of art. She is passionate about what she does. And, it shows…in her eyes.