by Steve Wong –
West Main Artists Co-op hosted its first regional juried art exhibition, WMAC 2019, which opened in September. The show was open to all adult visual artists in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee.
The first-place winner of the exhibition was Cindy Shute of Lockhart, SC, for her oil-on-linen painting “Peacemaker: Hrair Balian.” She received a cash prize of $2,500 that was given in memory of Frank P. Cyrill, Jr.
Second prize of $1,000 was taken by Gordon Dohm of Greenville, SC, for his photograph “Fungi Fantasy.” The third-place award of $500 was won by Tracey M. Timmons of Spartanburg, SC, for “Manacle of Justice,” a bracelet made of vitreous enamel, copper, silver, brass, and photography.
WMAC 2019 was open to all adult visual artists in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. Two-hundred-forty-one (241) artists from the four states applied, and 66 were admitted into the show based on the judgement of jurors Ann DerGara and Mike Vatalaro.
The winners were announced on Saturday, Sept. 21, during a reception and awards ceremony. Seventy-four (74) works of art in this exhibit are on display at the Co-op, which is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. There is no charge to see the exhibitions.
“We could not be happier with our first juried show,” Chair, Beth Regula said. “This is something we had wanted to do for several years, and it took more than a year of planning, but it was worth it. Having a show of this magnitude and with these cash prizes establishes West Main Artists Co-op as an art agency that is leading Spartanburg in its quest to be an art Mecca in South Carolina and throughout the South. It says we have the creativity, the knowhow, the professionalism, the resources, and the desire to take the Co-op to the next level. Next year will be even better!”
The Co-op is a membership-based nonprofit arts agency with more than 50 members, who are visual artists and performing artists. It is housed in a former Baptist church near downtown Spartanburg on West Main Street. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Co-op houses 31 artists studios, two stages, three galleries, a printery, a ceramics studio, and the largest collection of for-sale locally made art in Spartanburg. Each month, the Co-op normally installs three exhibits by its members and guest artists.
In their jurors’ statements, DerGara said: “ I am amazed at the quality of work that was entered. I think that opening the show to additional states has made this become an important show for the region and Spartanburg. The arts are growing rapidly in the region and this show will make Spartanburg known as art venue as well as Asheville and Greenville. As the Arts grow so does the economy. WMAC produced this show and jury with professionalism and expertise.”
Vatalaro said: “The very nature of a juried exhibition celebrates a broad range of medium and imagery. I enjoyed the task of identifying works that well represented the mediums chosen, techniques accomplished and the subjects investigated. The exhibition reveals a broad selection of work which I believe demonstrate an individual vision within both conventional and experimental genres. I was very impressed by the quality and richness demonstrated in all of the mediums displayed. I hope you will find each work invites close examination and has something unique to offer.”
“This is a vast and diverse show,” Regula said. “I invite the public to come see it and to take in the talent and creativity that surrounds us here in the South. A large show such as this one, expands our appreciation for the art that is readily available to us. It makes a statement that West Main Artists Co-op are striving and succeeding at making Spartanburg THE art community in South Carolina and beyond.”
A list of all accepted work can be found at WestMainArtists.org. The show closes on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. The gallery is located at 578 West Main Street, Spartanburg, SC 29301. Spartanburg hosts an art walk on the third Thursday of each month.