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Massena art show provides needed venue for local artists

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MASSENA - Retired Massena Central School District art teacher Vern Mauk has often judged the Massena Artists Association’s annual Juried Art Show, but he is glad he didn’t have that responsibility this year.

“I’m very pleased I didn’t have to judge this one, because choosing the best (art-work) in each media would have been very difficult,” said Mr. Mauk, who announced the winners of the 28th annual art show, the largest annual event of the Massena Artists Association.

More than 100 pieces were selected to be in the show, which had its opening reception Tuesday evening at the Massena Public Library. Works encompassed a variety of medium, including watercolor, acrylic, photography, pen and ink, sculptures, pastel and mixed media. Both new and experienced artists used the show to feature and in some cases try to sell their work. The pieces explored a variety of styles and themes, with imagery related to nature being the most common at the show.

“I’m really interested in the art coming out of this show. It’s even better than the last show,” Massena resident and artist Richard T. Billings said. “I’ve always known there were talented artists in the area, and it’s nice to have this show to show them off.”

Mr. Billings, who graduated from SUNY Potsdam with a degree in fine arts, said he’d submitted work to the show in the past, but didn’t this year because he’d been busy working on a sculpture that he recently damaged on accident.

Massena resident and artist Danny LaPrade, who had two acrylic paintings featured in the show, commended the artists association for providing this venue for local artists. Mr. LaPrade feels the region is lacking in the arts.

“You can’t even buy art supplies (in the area). You have to go to Watertown,” Mr. LaPrade said.

The annual juried show was open to all artists living within 100 miles of Massena, including Canadian artists and students at local colleges who only reside in the area when school is in session. The ages of artists whose work was in the show ranged from elementary students to retirees.

Prizes were given out to the top three works in each medium, in addition to honorable mentions and young artist awards for grade students. Taking the top prize was Norwood resident Chris Jay, for his acrylic painting “The Frog Prince.”

The psychedelic work, priced at $1,000, depicts a multi-faced blue frog over what looks like the folds of a brain and surrounded by imagery reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland.

Mr. Jay is a SUNY Potsdam graduate and an accomplished artist whose work was recently featured in a solo show at the St. Lawrence County Arts Council, 51 Market St., Potsdam. He enjoys exploring themes of surrealism, a concept that is evident in “The Frog Prince.” For that piece, Mr. Jay said he combined several different images he had in mind.

“It kind of took shape as I went along. I wanted to create some kind of surreal image with a frog,” he said.

As Mr. Mauk read off the list of winners, Mr. Jay began to grow anxious why his mesmerizing piece hadn’t received any honors.

“I was surprised to hear I’d won. (Before my name was read) it was kind of like, ‘what’s going on,’” he said.

First place honors also went out to Megan Barnes, for an oil piece; Donna Smith, for acrylic; Michiko Taylor, for watercolor; Terry Parkinson, for wood pyrography; Kylee Disotelle, for photography; Ron Morrow, for sculpture; and Pat Campbell, for mixed media.

The exhibit will be on display at the Massena Public Library until March 1.


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