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Celebrating Alabama arts

New Troy University international students tour the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy, Ala., Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

Johnson Center revisits popular exhibit theme

Two years ago, the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy brought together more than 60 Alabama artists who were recipients of the prestigious Alabama State Council on the Arts Fellowship Awards for the “Celebrating Contemporary Arts: The Nature of Being Southern” exhibition.

The exhibit was the first time for such a large group of Alabama artists to exhibit together. The exhibition was extremely successful and generated a great amount of interested in the artists who call Alabama home and their work.

“Through the Celebrating Contemporary Arts exhibition many people were introduced to the vast amount of artistic talent that we have here in Alabama,” said Richard Metzger, Johnson Center executive director. “We had visitors from all across the state and beyond. Many of them were surprised that a town the size of Troy would have such an incredible exhibit.”

The Celebrating Contemporary Arts exhibition placed the Johnson Center for the Arts in the same standing with galleries in larger cities in Alabama and in the South. The local arts center continues to receive high marks for its outstanding year round exhibits.

Metzger, his staff and board of directors are committed to continuing to meet those standards of excellence and he has no doubt that the exhibition that opens Aug. 17 will meet and exceed expectations.

“Because of the success of Celebrating Contemporary Arts exhibition, we decided to make the Alabama artists’ exhibition a biennial event,” Metzger said. “‘Celebrating Contemporary Arts: The Biennial’ will bring together Alabama artists who are recipients of the ASCA Fellowship Awards. These Fellowships may be awarded annually to two artists in each discipline. However, if the state arts council determines that the art in a discipline is not strong enough, there will be no awards in that discipline for that year.

“So, these artists are some of the best in the state and also are recognized outside of Alabama for their talents,” Metzger said. “The Celebrating Contemporary Arts: The Biennial features more than 60 Alabama artists and more than 120 pieces of artwork – sculpture, pottery, ceramics, oil and acrylic paintings and some assemblages.

“No matter what one’s interest in art, there will be something in this exhibit to capture his or her interest. There is something for all ages. I would say that all of those who view this exhibit will come away having found at least three pieces that captured and held their interest.”

Metzger said the 50 local teachers who attended the ArtBridges summer workshop sponsored by the Johnson Center this summer will benefit from the exhibit as they use art as a bridge between subject areas.

“We will have school groups to visit the exhibition and docents and volunteers will be available to discuss the different art pieces with the students and their teachers,” Metzger said. “The teachers who attended the workshop will bring a different perspective to the exhibit and that should make it even more interesting and meaningful to the students.”

Docents and volunteers are available to assist the arts center staff and special guided tours are available to groups with prior notice by calling 670-2287.

“Some people who visit our exhibitions enjoy being on their own and others appreciate having someone provide information about the artists and their works,” Metzger said.

An artists’ reception will be held from 2 until 4 p.m. on Sept. 28 and the public is invited.

Having an opportunity to meet the artists and talk with them about their art always brings a new realization to their work, Metzger said.

“This will be a rare opportunity to visit with so many of Alabama’s outstanding artists,” he said. “We are excited and pleased to bring an exhibition of this size and of this high quality of work to the Johnson Center.

“This is an exhibition of Alabama’s living artists and they are as good as any in the country. This is our artistic heritage. We invite everyone to visit Celebrating Contemporary Art: The Biennial. You will be amazed at what you see.”