BY BARBARA M. TOBIAS –
I have been working with Mena Art Gallery for over a dozen years and have seen it grow and change. Here are some of the things planned for 2018:
Two national juried painting competitions will bring the best work from artists all over the U.S. Artists can enter either or both by posting photographs of their work online; a jury of three artists will select the best work and those artists will send their paintings to the gallery. We especially welcome local artists to both shows—there are special awards for the best Arkansas entries. More details are available at www.TheArtoftheHeartland.com.
In February, we will have our first “Portrait of Arkansas” exhibit featuring a variety of artists’ concepts of what our state means to each.
We have several other new exhibits this year: The Art of Hair, Photography, and Fiber Arts to name just a few. Our annual Young Artists Competition is open to all of our up-and-coming artists.
The gallery will take part in the annual Ouachita Arts Celebration in November: an opportunity to see what is happening in the many different aspects of art in our community.
We hold workshops with local artists teaching the basics of many different aspects of art, most recently a series of classes on drawing skills and an ongoing series on creating pencil portraits.
There are monthly classes for young people: one for children 6 to 12 years old and another for teenagers and beginner adults. Our classes for the younger artists are on hold for this month as our instructor, Deborah Longest, recently passed away. She will be missed; she did a great job. The classes will resume as soon as we can find another qualified instructor.
And for those of you who don’t care for organized classes, there is Art Day every Tuesday from 11 am to 2 pm. Artists come and go to work on current projects and to visit with each other. You are welcome to join them either to work on any project that is portable enough to bring or just to watch and join the conversations. It’s always fun.
Some of the concepts we are working on include some videos teaching basic art skills and once-a-month Brown Bag Lunches where you bring your lunch to the gallery and one of our artists will demonstrate some aspect of art. We’ll tell you about these as soon as they are available.
As many of you know, we are a 501(C)3 non-profit corporation: we are funded primarily from membership fees and donations from many generous and supportive businesses and individuals in our community.
We have one part-time employee: Julie Vande Zande, who does a great job as Executive Director. Most of the people who greet you when you come into the gallery are volunteers who give of their time to make it possible to keep the gallery open. If you would like to join their ranks, talk to Julie: there is a task to match whatever skills and time you can bring. Another way to support the gallery is by becoming a member: memberships start at $20 per year and keep you up-to-date on whatever is going on by our monthly newsletter.
You can also keep up with what is going on by checking our website: www.MenaArtGallery.org. You are welcome to attend our monthly Board of Directors meetings held on the second Tuesday of each month at 5:30 pm. Your ideas and suggestions are always welcome and we would love to have you take part.