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STRONG COMPETITION: Challenge 14 artists honored with reception

A large gathering of art patrons and enthusiasts attended the reception for the artists who participated in the Challenge 14 Juried Art Exhibition at the Johnson Center for the Arts Thursday night.

The artists were challenged with creating a work of art that would fit in a box 14-inches square.

Twenty-eight artists from Alabama, Florida and Georgia accepted the challenge and created 69 amazing pieces, said Wiley White, JCA exhibition coordinator.

The entries included paintings, drawings, sculptures, encaustics, photographs and pottery and a variety of subjects including landscapes, portraits, abstracts, surreal art and realism.

The juror for Challenge 14 was Bruce Phillips Jr, associate professor of art at Tuskegee University.

Aaron Johnson, JCA preparatory and designer, said he did not envy Phillips.

“This had to be a tough decision,” Johnson said. “There were 69 entries in the exhibition and every one of them was outstanding.”

Phillips agreed it was a difficult task.

“The artwork was very diverse so making decisions was very challenging,” Phillips said. “The entries included mix media, photographs, collages and illustrations, so, yes, it was challenging.”

Phillips said the artwork included different development levels and Challenge 14 placed some of the artists out of their comfort zones.

“Challenge 14 was a strong show and also a daunting task,” Phillips said. “I congratulate all of the artists and the staff of the Johnson Center for an outstanding juried art exhibition.”

Johnson thanked Phillips for accepting the challenge of judging the show and expressed appreciation to the 28 participating artists and hope that all were encouraged by the experience.

Mara Jambur’s portrait title “Gip” was judged “Best of Show.” Phillips said the Hoover artist was able to capture the essence of her subject in a remarkable way on such a small canvas.

The Director’s Award went to Julie Lowery of Montgomery for “The Fox”.

Eight Juror’s Awards were presented to Ruth Walker of Troy for “The Garden Entrance,” Madelyn Carr Bonnett of Columbiana for “There Was a Crooked Barn,” Nancy Hartsfield of Montgomery for “Sunflowers at the Curb Market,” Jessica Anderson of Cumming, Georgia for “Peaks, Valleys, Cosmic Alleys,” Margaret Gluhman of Auburn for “Lost in the Woods,” Julie Plasketes of Opelika for “Roots,” Warren Simons of Montgomery for “Homage to Giorgio de Chirico” and Winfred Hawkins of Montgomery for “Reality is Not Real… Sacrifice.”

“Challenge 14” is featured in the Johnson Center’s lower gallery and will hang until mid- January.

The JCA’s Christmas Tree Extravaganza is featured in the Gibson Family Gallery on the upper level. The exhibit features Christmas Trees decorated by students in schools throughout the county. Also, on the upper level is the Nutcracker display from the collection of the late Susan Berry.

White said the JCA is beautifully decorated for the holidays and encourages community residents and visitors to make the JCA a holiday destination.

The Johnson Center hours are from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and until 5 on Saturday. Admission is free.