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THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2007
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“Le Penseur” by Carla Letson is on display at the fifth annual “Embracing Art” exhibit at Carnegie. Letson, a Trinity mother of two, said this is not only her first show, but also her first painting.
Daily photos by Emily Saunders
“Le Penseur” by Carla Letson is on display at the fifth annual “Embracing Art” exhibit at Carnegie. Letson, a Trinity mother of two, said this is not only her first show, but also her first painting.

Embrace local art
72 artists’ work on display at 5th annual amateur, professional exhibit at Carnegie

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com · 340-2446

This art ranges from places you’ll recognize to the abstract to just plain fun.

And best of all, the new show at Carnegie Visual Arts Center features work by local people you may know.

Seventy artists of all ages and stages are featured in “Embracing Art V: A Coming Together of Area Amateur and Professional Artists.” They were required to submit slides or photographs of their work, with one or two pieces chosen.

The Carnegie featured work by area artists at its first exhibit five years ago, and it has made that show an annual event.

“Some of these artists, such as Robin Roberts, Anne Fouché Southard, Emma Janet Boyd and many others, have been in “Embracing Art” previously and are constant supporters whom we count on from year to year,” said Carnegie Executive Director Laura Phillips.

“However, we have several new artists this year, such as Carla Letson, who takes painting classes with Scott Willis here at the Carnegie each Tuesday.”

Along with oil and acrylic paintings, watercolors and drawings in pen, graphite and conté crayon, the show includes photography, hand craft, mixed media, assemblage and three-dimensional art.

Pottery is part of the exhibit, too.

Jake Welch, a young painter, “has stepped out with a piece of raku pottery that is very organic in shape and displays some really nice texture,” Phillips said.

The exhibit, which opened Friday, will be on display through June 22, with artists to be honored June 15 at the regular third Friday party for members.

Letson, a Trinity mother of two, acknowledged this is not only her first show but her first painting. She formerly worked in graphic design for the missile and computer industries in Huntsville but hasn’t had much time for fine art.

She is part of a daytime art class with other moms.

“We’re not the most focused artists, because we’re being pulled in a lot of directions,” she said.

Along with oil and acrylic paintings, such as Kathryn Vaughn’s “A Gift Wrapped in Blue,” above, the Carnegie show includes watercolors and drawings in pen, graphite and conté crayon, photography, hand craft, mixed media, assemblage, pottery and three-dimensional art.
Along with oil and acrylic paintings, such as Kathryn Vaughn’s “A Gift Wrapped in Blue,” above, the Carnegie show includes watercolors and drawings in pen, graphite and conté crayon, photography, hand craft, mixed media, assemblage, pottery and three-dimensional art.
“Most of the time I just get to paint during the two hours I’m at the Carnegie for class, so I’m not too prolific,” Letson said. “Sometimes I get to paint at home, but usually there’s ironing or ball games or something.”

She grew up in Decatur and took some art classes from Jackie Goode as a child, and her sons, who like to draw, have been to Camp Carnegie for art (see related story) and studied with Goode, too.

“I think this show is wonderful,” Letson said. “I never realized we had so many artists in Decatur. There are some established artists you’re used to seeing, but new people, too, and a huge variety of styles and mediums.”

An art classmate with a master’s in French gave the title “Le Penseur” to Letson’s acrylic painting.

“I based it on a picture I liked and tore out of an Anthropologie clothing catalog, and she said the pose looked like a female version of ‘The Thinker’ by (Auguste) Rodin,” said Letson.

Boyd said she usually paints from photographs, and that was the case with her two oil paintings chosen for the show. Don’t come hungry to view “Banana Split” and “Veggies to Go.”

“I enjoy cooking and food, so ‘Veggies to Go’ is a basket of vegetables, some from my garden, in a complicated, involved piece,” Boyd said.

“We love ice cream, and ‘Banana Split’ is meant to be a fun painting — and the best part is there are no calories.”

She generally tends toward still life and landscape paintings.

Boyd has lived in Decatur since 1970 and taught art at Decatur High and other schools. She sells her work through a gallery in Birmingham and does commissioned work. This is her fifth time in the “Embracing Art” show, she said, “and I’m thrilled that we have the Carnegie with exhibits like this and the other programs they offer.”

Southard, a Huntsville artist who takes art classes on Calhoun Community College’s Decatur campus, had a painting in last year’s “Embracing Art,” as well as a piece in the “Fences” exhibit.

“This is a lovely museum, and Decatur people ought to be proud of it,” she said. “And I’ve met so many nice people in the art world.”

Her oil painting in this show features the Japanese Tea House on Monte Sano, contrasting the inside of the rustic building with the bright, sunny day outside.

“I have done art off and on all my life,” she said. “It’s a good way to relax and a right brain activity. But you can only put so many paintings in your house and give so many to friends, so you’d better sell some. However, it takes time for people to take you seriously and realize you’re not just frittering away time.”

Lately she’s been working on portraits, while continuing to take art classes.

“This is my sixth year at Calhoun, and they asked me how much longer I was going to attend.”

Her answer? “Till death do us part.”

If you go

What: New exhibit “Embracing Art V: A Coming Together of Area Amateur and Professional Artists”

When: Through June 22; Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Carnegie Visual Arts Center, 207 Church St. N.E., Decatur

Admission: Free, with donations and memberships welcome

Call: 341-0562

Enroll now for Camp Carnegie

Want to expose your child or grandchild to the world of art? Consider Camp Carnegie for a summer activity.

Through June 8, you can register 4- through 12-year-olds for age-specific sessions at this art camp, planned June 27 through Aug. 1 at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center in Decatur.

Camp Carnegie director Tammie Jacob will guide children through this fifth annual summer art education program, including hands-on art activities, Carnegie tours and more fun.

Campers will explore different types of sculpting and three-dimensional art in a variety of mediums, while learning about artists such as Alexander Calder and Dale Chihuly. They will study the sculpture of Dennis Brickell, whose work will be on display at the Carnegie during camp weeks.

Regular camp sessions for younger children (ages 4-5 and 6-8) will be 9 a.m. to noon or 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Older children (ages 9-12) may attend condensed Camp Carnegie sessions from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 27-29 and July 30-Aug. 1.

Camp Carnegie fees, which include tuition, materials and a daily snack, are $100 for Carnegie Visual Arts Center member families and $125 for non-members, per camper per week. Call 341-0562 for information and registration.

PATRICE STEWART

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