Talent within 125 miles

Talent within 125 miles

Tom Gonzalez

Talent within 125 miles
January 19
17:24 2017

Cierra Edmondson

The Visual Arts Society of Texas is holding its 11th annual 125-Mile Visual Arts Exhibition from Jan. 14 to Feb. 25 at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center to showcase local artists and their work.

The 125-Mile Exhibition was initiated in 2006 to establish a regional high quality and juried art exhibition for artists living within 125-mile radius of Denton. By limiting the eligible artists to a 125-mile radius, it allows for artists close to Denton County the opportunity to present their work. Artists are able to compete and show their work, which includes any 2D or 3D artwork falling under specified VAST categories, at the Gough Gallery in the Patterson-Appleton Center.  

Jurors act as a reviewer of each piece of work. This year’s jurors included Linda Ridgway and John Alexander Taylor. Both jurors are recipients of Master of Fine Arts degrees. This year, a total number of 30 artists, all Texas natives, are participating in the exhibition. Many come from the DFW area, but others arrived from cities as far as Sanger, Justin and Paris, Texas.

Ernie Benton, from Justin, Texas, chose to enter his acrylic piece titled Inner Vision. Cierra Edmondson

Ernie Benton, a Justin native, believes that he was born an artist. Growing up in Chicago, Benton found art to be a great and creative distraction amongst the things that went on around him. His exhibition piece, titled Inner Vision, speaks to a need of having and exuding inner peace.

Inner Vison is a cool-colored piece, featuring a young man gazing softly into the distance. Although it seems to be a simpler piece, Benton said it packs a punch and makes a strong statement through the eyes, which are the focal point of the piece. Benton’s play on shadows and a pop of a rusty-orange color are meant to draw the viewer in.

“I try to do work that is positive, something that has a voice and meaning,” Benton said. “If you look at Inner Vision, it’s like you can see his thoughts. He is inviting you into the peace and serenity.”

Among other techniques, Benton also likes to incorporate music and musical instruments into his work, sometimes weaving the instruments into the faces of his subjects. Benton draws much of his inspiration from music, beauty and color.

He also plans to teach a few art classes at UNT in the coming months in order to share his experiences with others.

Drawing and painting sophomore Robert Sparks was also among the 30 artists chosen to showcase their pieces in the exhibition.

His acrylic piece, titled Kitchen, is a large canvas exploding with pops of contrasting color.

“Art was something that I had always done as a kid and never grew out of,” Sparks said. “Kitchen is a play on words and color. My paintings tend to be a little darker, so I tried to use lighter colors. The piece is inspired by my routine of getting to work every day.”

Sparks shares that anyone who is considering art as a career or hobby should keep going and exploring the craft, even when they feel they can no longer produce work.

Kimberly Schaefer stands with her piece titled Union II on opening night of the 125-Mile Visual Arts Exhibition. Schaefer is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in the Arts at Texas Woman’s University. Cierra Edmondson

Kimberly Schaefer, a Texas Woman’s University student currently pursuing a masters degree in painting, follows Sparks’ idea of thinking as she always tries to keep herself involved in the arts.

Her piece, called Union II, is part of a series of works involving the exploration of the body, tangibility and identity.

Schaefer believes that many artists take things through a filter that comes through their work and through that filter, they are able to interpret and create what they see in their own, unique way.

“I take a lot of abstract backgrounds and layer figures and colors on top to where figures merge in and out of each other,” Schaefer said. “The main point is to give people the space or idea to think about those boundaries and your identity as a result of those boundaries.”

Although the exhibition will close on Feb. 25, these artists are looking forward to the future opportunities they have in Denton. While art might not mean much to many people, Benton said artists’ pieces represent who they are.

“As an artist, you need to know who you are, what your voice is and where you draw your power,” Benton said. “Your work is how people will see you as an artist.”

Featured Image: The 125-Mile Visuals Art Exhibition showcases artists’ work within a 125 mile radius of Denton. Tom Gonzalez

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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