HARRISONBURG — The 33rd annual Shenandoah Valley Watercolor Society Juried Art Show will be held at the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community’s Park Gables Gallery from Saturday through Nov. 2.
The opening reception will be on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. and feature light refreshments for visitors. Mary Shira, an art studio instructor at James Madison University, will judge the artworks and announce the winners at 3 p.m. that day.
Donna Detrich, president of SVWS, joined the society shortly after it began over 30 years ago. She began painting as a form of meditation and has seen the evolution in appreciation that has grown in the community.
“The society has been trying to promote the arts for 30-some years. When we first started, the arts were not that important in Harrisonburg, but it’s exciting to see people come out for artwork here,” Detrich said.
Members of the society can enter up to five paintings for the competition and an additional five for sale. Detrich has six paintings featured in the show. Over 100 paintings have been submitted for the event.
SVWS members cannot display their artwork in local galleries as an affiliate of the society unless they have earned the recognition of signature member. The juried art show is a special event for the organization because any member, new or old, can submit work for the competition.
Janet Kuller first joined the organization in 1992 and has competed in every show since. Kuller will have two new pieces for display at the art competition. She said she enjoys manipulating the stubborn medium, but the delicate finished product is worth the pain.
“Probably 30 years ago or more I discovered watercolor, and it was love at first sight. I just loved how it moved around and the translucency of it, and it's a big challenge as well,” Kuller said. “ I think it looks like stained glass with the light shining through it.”
In recognition of the expanding medium, various water-based paints are accepted into the show such as traditional watercolor, acrylic and gouache. The society has strict guidelines for submissions that are based on The American Watercolor Society’s standards. Submissions may not be previously shown or judged elsewhere. The painting must be created within the past year and be presented on white matte with either a plexiglass or glass cover and a frame.
The VMRC has hosted the juried art show for 12 years and often serves as a venue for arts in the community. Lolly Miller, the arts and education program manager at VMRC, said hosting Shenandoah Valley Watercolor Society at its venue allows anyone to explore and learn about art.
“One of our strategic objectives is to reach our greater community at large. So, anytime we can offer something that's of interest to the general public, we want to partner with local artists that are willing to generate a juried art show such as this,” Miller said.
Shira will award the best in show and first, second and third place winners on Sunday. Five honorable mentions will also be recognized. Visitors can cast their votes for the people’s choice winner, announced toward the end of the show in late fall. Members of the society will also choose a favorite, and that winner will be revealed at the December meeting. Winners are rewarded with cash prizes or gift certificates to local organizations.
Most artwork displayed at the show will be for sale. The art will remain at the gallery until November, and the venue is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for visitors to stop by and see the local talent. Membership to SVWS is extended to anyone interested in the medium regardless of ability or experience for a $35 annual fee, which includes monthly critic meetings and workshops.