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Art reception exceeds expectations

The expectations were high for the opening reception of the Watercolor Society of Alabama’s 69th Annual Exhibition Sunday at the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy.

“And the opening exceeded all expectations,” said Richard Metzger, Center director. “We were excited to host this national exhibition of 101 pieces selected from 300 submissions from 21 states. It is an outstanding exhibition and has been so well received.”

Metzger said he was honored that the Watercolor Society of Alabama chose the Johnson Center for the Arts as host of its 69th exhibition.

Those who attended the four-day watercolor workshop by the exhibition juror Marilyn Hughey Phillis were amazed that a town the size of Troy had a facility that could host such a prestigious exhibition.

Phillis called the Johnson Center “a miracle” and the exhibition “first class.”

“The City of Troy is to be commended for having the foresight to save this wonderful building,” she said. “So many cities are taking down buildings that could and should be saved. For this building to be preserved and to be used for the arts … I can’t get over it. This is a first-class exhibition and it is beautifully hung.”

For Mack Gibson, president of the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center Foundation board, the Watercolor Society’s annual exhibition is a giant step in the validation of the Johnson Center for the Arts as a cultural arts center in Alabama.

“This just blows me away,” Gibson said. “To walk in here and see artwork from all across the country in the main gallery and then go to the lower gallery and see works by two outstanding local artists, it’s unbelievable.”

Gibson said anyone who thinks that a small, rural community can’t be a center for the arts only needs to visit the Johnson Center.

“We can hang it here,” Gibson said, with a smile.

Craig Galloway, Watercolor Society of Alabama president, said the exhibition was one of the best and he has viewed many “far and wide.”

“This is a national exhibition and there is a representative number of pieces from Alabama artists as well as artists from Virginia to California,” he said. “There is a good variety and it’s very interesting and exciting. The Johnson Center is a first-class gallery space and I hope that the people in and around the area will take advantage of this opportunity to come view this national watercolor exhibition.”

Al Head, executive director of the Alabama State Council on the Arts, liked the idea of a dual opening, which featured the Watercolor Society of Alabama’s annual exhibition, the work of landscape artist, Sandra Hicks Barnes of Ramer and the underwater photography of Caroline Davis of Birmingham.

“The Watercolor Society’s exhibition traditionally features the best of the best and this year’s exhibition is no exception,” he said. “I think everyone here will be able to connect with the landscape paintings because the scenes reflect the countryside of our area. The photography is both nostalgic and impressionistic. Richard Metzger and his staff are to be commended for putting together a very impressive dual exhibition.”