VALDESE — The 31st annual Open Art Competition began on Aug. 11, Waldensian Festival Day, in the Rock School Art Galleries I and II in Valdese.

Deborah Squier, whose work is represented at Blue Spiral 1 in Asheville, was the judge. Squier is the daughter and student of American painter Donald Gordon Squier, family portraitist of U.S. Army Gen. George S. Patton and family, as well as other public figures in Washington, D.C.

“Every participant here deserves a reward,” Squier said. “Just the act of making art is an act of courage and self-confidence. Art, above all else, is a willingness to be open to yourself and to others and to be vulnerable. It is always a privilege for me to get a glimpse into the hearts and minds of my fellow artists. Entering any show or competition speaks to the strength of the artists’ belief in their quest.”

Squier selected the following pieces for awards and below are her explanations:

First place was given to Fairview Landscape, an oil by Kay Robb.

“I was drawn to this landscape for its somewhat surprising composition and lead-in of the foreground trees with their staggered vertical lines offsetting the receding pastoral terrain in the background. The trees are the element that pulls the viewer into the rolling hills and flora of early spring. There is great interior variety and unity in this painting. It shows an excellent grasp of seasonal tonality, atmosphere, use of warm and cool palette and variety of shapes. While restful, it still holds mystery.”

Second place was given to Magnolia, a watercolor painting by Betty Garrou.

“I chose this painting because it represents a common subject handled in an uncommon way. The background and leaves are uniformly green with the exception of the center of interest, the magnolia bloom, peaking out, holding its own. It exhibits a simplicity within a complex, abstract design. Simultaneously, the greens are skillfully differentiated with the right amount of contrast. The bloom has personality. I like the juxtaposition of traditional, contemporary and originality being held together by a strong aesthetic.”

Third place was awarded to Foscoe, a pen and ink by Garrou.

“This pen and ink is an excellent example of rendering in a very challenging and unforgiving medium. I am drawn to the technique and to the story being told. The artist uses line and curved line to define form, weight, depth and mass. To do this convincingly with ink requires commitment and competence to the overall intention of the genre and the composition. The artist shows command of her medium and simultaneously demonstrates the nostalgia of the transient world we live in and the remnants left behind for us to interpret.”

Honorable Mention was given to the following artworks:

» Seaside, a handmade paper landscape.

» Three Trees, a mixed media painting by Peter Milne.

» Shoreline, a transparent watercolor by Loretta Clark.

» Price Creek, an egg tempura painting by Tommy Stine.

» Romanian Costume, an oil painting by Randy Blake Clontz.

» Wonder, a watercolor painting by Maria Avila.

» Result of a Day’s Solitude, a graphite, charcoal, and chalk drawing by Amber Watts.

» Autumn Showers, a watermedia painting by Judy Rider.

» Homeplace, an oil painting by R.B.L. Hartmann.

» Waiting Inside of the Bad Disguise, a mixed media piece by Watts.

» Ferry, an oil painting by Joseph Hans.

» The Hanging Garden, a graphite drawing by Blake Owen Carswell.

Waldensian Festival visitors enjoyed voting for The People’s Choice Award after studying all the works in Galleries I and II. The painting that won the most votes was an oil painting entitled Sea Turtle by artist Joey Martin. The Rock School Arts Foundation invites folks to enjoy this exhibition through noon Sept. 21st at the Rock School Art Galleries from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and weekends by appointment at 400 Main St. W. in Valdese.

For more information, go to or call 828-879-2129.

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