Madison Regional Art Show

Regional Art Show to highlight Madison Art Club’s 70th anniversary

Nearly 100 area artists are entered in this year’s show

(September 2019) – Robots, portraits, still-life, landscapes and abstracts are just a few of the subjects rendered in oil, acrylic, watercolor, marker pen and fabric at the Madison Art Club’s 2019 Regional Art Show. Other entries include glass art, turned wood bowls and relief-art pieces. The public is invited to visit Art on Main gallery to vote for their favorite entry. The winner will receive the “People’s Choice Award.”
Ninety-seven artists are competing in the 21st annual Regional Art Show in Madison, Ind. The show runs from Aug 29 to Sept. 14. at the gallery, 309 W. Main St. Media categories include fiber, wood sculpture, watercolors, pastel, drawing and mixed media (no performing art). Artwork is limited to a maximum of 3x6 feet. Artists come from approximately a 150-mile radius of Madison, including Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

Photo by Sharyn Whitman

Elle Smith poses beside one of her paintings at the Madison Art Club’s Gallery on Main in Madison, Ind. She has been a mainstay in the local art community, both as art instructor at Hanover College and as Madison Art Club president.

The cash awards include $1,000 for Best of Show, $500 for Reserve, Duke Energy Award of $250, nine $200 Merit Awards, four $100 Merit Awards, $100 Mayor’s Award and $50 People’s Choice Award. The Awards Reception is scheduled from 7-9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14. The Madison Art Club is also celebrating its 70th anniversary with a special cake at the Awards Reception. The public is invited to meet the artists and enjoy the celebration.
Elle Smith, a local artist, has been a pillar of the art community for more than 30 years. She served as an art instructor at Hanover College in 1984-85 and ran the gallery there. In 1985, she started and managed the gallery at the Madison Art Club. She was on the Board of Directors of the club for almost five years.
“That experience taught me the importance of delegation,” she said. “People want to be active, so give them responsibility.” 
As club president, she has been busy over the past year. She has rewritten the bylaws, including the option for officers to serve for either one- or two-year terms. Personally, she spent hours at bedside of her late husband, Bob Ems, in 2018. There, she worked on small 9x12-inch pieces of art clamped onto a clipboard. Two of those Prismacolor drawings are entered in the Regional Art Show. The intricate design is drawn with a special black waterproof marker. The marker is also used to fill in the surrounding black background. Next, the remaining white spaces are carefully colored with other markers. They are framed in black and white to set off the bright colors. The detailed designs forced Smith to intently focus on the art she was creating.
Jennifer Ripley’s entry of detailed artwork is also in the Drawing category. In contrast to the Smith drawings with solid black backgrounds, the background in Ripley’s drawing is pale gray on white. Ripley was inspired by the impressive entrance to a home in downtown Madison. The drawing depicts an iron fence and stone gate post with an urn full of flowers. The stone gable of a house beyond rises above a stone wall. The outlines of the house, each stone, the ironwork, and the leaves on the trees, are painstakingly rendered with a fine-tip black waterproof marker. Ripley said she has used pens dipped in ink, but the new markers are so much better.
When asked about the shading blended throughout the intricate drawing, she said, “I start with the ink, and it just comes together. When I think it is done, I set it up to look at it. Often, I see a spot that needs something more.”  She may add a detail or blend the water-soluble graphite with a brush to complete the work to her satisfaction. She has been drawing since grade school. She even taught art in an elementary school for 12 years. Ripley and her husband, Robert, built their retirement home in a peaceful country setting between Versailles and Holton.
Madison Mayor Damon Welch reviewed all of the posted artwork on Aug. 27 to select the “Mayor’s Choice” Award. First, he toured the gallery to take in the whole exhibit. Next, he looked specifically at several pieces. Finally, he made his award selection. “I look for the one that speaks to me.”
This year’s show will be judged by the prestigious John Michael Carter. The internationally known art judge lives in Louisville, Ky. He has taught drawing and painting for the University of Kentucky at Jefferson Community College in Louisville. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his work, such as “Best of Show” at the Oil Painters of American National Exhibition in 2004 and “Best of Show” at the Hoosier Salon in 2012. He is known for his portraits of famous individuals, such as Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown, John Gardner, former Secretary of H.E.W., and U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana. He is a frequent guest instructor at art workshops across the country, including one at the Madison Art Club.
“It was so well received that the club was unable to accommodate all of the interested participants,” Smith said.

Funding for the Regional Art Show awards is provided by many corporate and individual donors. Smith expressed her appreciation for the generous support, saying, “Without our donors, we couldn’t do this show.”

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