Contemporary displays

Published 6:29 pm Friday, August 2, 2013

The kiosk at the corner of East Walnut and Market streets in Troy could just as easily be a red light because it’s a traffic stopper.

When the exhibits at the Johnson Center for the Arts change, vehicles stop at the kiosk to see what the Center’s next coming attraction will be.

“Right now, we have ‘Celebrating Contemporary Arts in Alabama: The Biennial 2013’ on display,” said Morgan Drinkard, Johnson Center executive director. “For this exhibit, we invite Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA) Visual Arts Fellowship Award winners to show two to three pieces each.

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“The ASCA Fellowships are financial grants that are awarded to Alabama artists that the state arts council feels are best suited to use the grants to further their artistic careers.”

Drinkard said the Fellowships are considered the most prestigious that ASCA awards.

“The number of Fellowships varies each year depending on the funds that are available,” she said. “This year, 10 Fellowships were awarded. Walter Black, a Troy ceramist, was among them.”

Every two years, the Johnson Center for the Arts celebrates the contemporary arts in Alabama and invites the ASCA Visual Arts Fellowship winners.

“They are invited to submit two to three pieces of their work that have been completed in the last two years,” Drinkard said. “This year, we have more than 40 artists from across the state displaying a wide variety of mediums, including fabric, wood, photography, painting, sculpture and clay.

“Some of the artists have competed in all three of our biennial exhibitions. ASCA awards new Fellowships each year so we are continually extending invitations to a different group of artists.”

But the artists who have participate in more that one “Celebrating Contemporary Arts in Alabama: The Biennial” exhibition often chose a different medium.

“From 2009 to 2011 and now 2013, we have seen how the artists’ body of work grows and how they continue to explore different mediums,” Drinkard said.

“Troy artist Russell Everett showed his sculpture in 2011 but, this year, he has chosen to show his drawings. Many of the ASCA Fellowship Visual Art Award winners work in different mediums and it’s exciting to see what they bring to the show. It could be 2D or 3D. It could be fabric art or metal sculptures. The variety makes the Alabama Artists Biennial a very interesting and exciting show.”

As a 2013 ASCA Fellow, Walter Black will be exhibiting his work in the Alabama Artists Biennial exhibit for the first time.

As the winner of 2012 TroyFest “Best of Show,” Black was awarded a solo show at the Johnson Center for the Arts in the spring of 2013.

“Walter’s show was very well received and well attended,” Drinkard said. “We are proud to have him back at the Johnson Center in ‘Celebrating Contemporary Arts in Alabama: The Biennial,’ which is sponsored by the Alabama State Council on the Arts.”

Four local artists, Black, Everett, Duane Paxson and Larry Percy will be among the 40 featured artists in the exhibit. Drinkard said that is an indication of the number of tremendously talented artists there are in Troy and Pike County.

Many of the featured artists are university professors and others are fulltime artists.

“It is a great privilege to be an ASCA Fellowship Award winner,” she said. “We want to honor them by hosting an exhibit where their work is on display along with that of other ASCA Fellowship Visual Art Award winners. For some of the award winners, the Biennial at the Johnson Center is their first opportunity to show their work along with other Fellowship winners. It is our honor to offer the ASCA Fellowship Visual Art Award winners this opportunity. We look forward to this show every two years.”

The “Celebrating Contemporary Arts in Alabama: The Biennial” is on display now through October 26.

An exhibition reception will be held from 1:30 until 3:30 p.m. Sept. 8 and the public is invited.

The Johnson Center for the Arts is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is always free.

For more information about current or future exhibits at the Johnson Center, call 334-670-2287.