Art center exhibitor named to International society

Published 7:34 pm Friday, July 9, 2010

An Alabama artist whose work is on exhibit in the Watercolor Society of Alabama’s National Show at the Johnson Center for the Arts has been accepted into the International Society of Acrylic Painters.

Steven Garst of Wetumpka has been admitted into membership of the prestigious society. His watercolor painting, titled “MJ and Billy” will remain on exhibit along with 100 other watercolors at the Johnson Center through July 17.

“The International Society of Acrylic Painters is a very prestigious society,” said Richard Metzger, executive director of the Johnson Center for the Arts. “We are proud to have Steven Garst’s work on display. Our goal has been to exhibit the highest quality artwork. Being a young arts center and having one of the exhibiting artists included in the prestigious ISAP membership is evidence that we are continuing to pursue our mission to work toward cultural enrichment in the lives of the people of our community.”

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Garst entered into membership in the ISAP with Signature Member Status along with his wife, Deb. There are only two other Alabama artists who have received signature status in ISAP, and the Garsts are the first from the River Regions area. They are also the first married couple to have paintings accepted at the same time and the first husband/wife in the history of the society to become signature members.

“We received Signature Member Status for life, which entitles us to participate in the ISAP Signature Members Show without having to be juried in,” Garst said. “We can now sign our work with ISAP after our names and use it to promote our work.”

With this membership, the Garsts are now competing with other artists from around the world.

About a month ago, Steve and Deb Garst sent some of their paintings to California with hopes of being accepted into the International Society of Acrylic Painters (ISAP) Thirteenth Annual International Show.

“We knew we were taking a giant leap but figured we had nothing to lose,” Garst said. “When last Monday’s mail arrived we held the letters and just looked at each other. I think we were prepared for the ‘rejection letter’ but not for what we got. Deb ripped open her envelope and the first word said it all…“Congratulations!” At this point I wasn’t sure I wanted to open mine, but I was also pleasantly surprised with the same lead in.

“As we prepare to head to Santa Cruz, California, we are very proud to be representing the great State of Alabama.”

Last September Garst retired as the senior illustrator and art director for Air University Press at Maxwell AFB, so he and his wife could focus on their love for fine art and photography. They built their Dog House Studio at their home in Wetumpka and can walk out their back door and create their paintings every day.

“Our first big break came last January when we each had a painting juried into the Alabama Wildlife Federation’s Flora and Fauna Show,” Garst said. “There were only 54 artists represented from across the state. In February, two of my watercolors were accepted into the Tallahassee Watercolor Societies Tri-State Show. Only 75 pieces were selected out of Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, and the competition was fierce.”

In a short time, the Garsts received a letter from the Dauphin Island Chamber of Commerce informing them they had been juried into the third annual Dauphin Island Art Festival.

“Deb and I began creating paintings for this festival last November but didn’t find out we had gotten in until mid-April,” Garst said. “Only three prizes were awarded for the entire festival, and Deb got second place. When we returned home from the Dauphin Island show, we received notification that one of my watercolors had been juried into the Watercolor Society of Alabama National Show at the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy. This show includes artists from all across the United States and the work is incredible.