By RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
Artist Pablo Picasso once said, “You don’t make art, you find it.” And where you can find it in Portsmouth is at the Boneyfiddle Arts Center on Second Street.
Resident artist and Center chairperson Jamie Benedict said the non-profit Boneyfiddle Arts Center was formed by a group of artists wanting to create a space for local art in our community.
“Our vision is really to be a gathering point and a bridge between other creative art outlets; whether they be schools in our community, The Counseling Center doing art projects, or Scioto Residential Services art projects, where everyone can show their creativity,” Benedict said.
For an artist to showcase his or her art in the Boneyfiddle Arts Center, they must first be accepted as a member by a jury committee evaluating all new members. Once a member, artists can display and sell their work at the Center. Inside is a mixture of artistic mediums — including photography, watercolors, sculptures, bead work, carved stone clocks, encaustic, wood turning, glasswork, egg carving, fabric and more.
But there are a few ways your work can be seen in the Center without being a full-time member. Each month the Center hosts a free public photography exhibit called “Back in the B.A.C.,” for the public to submit entries. This month’s theme is “Spring has Sprung,” and the theme for May’s exhibit is “My Special Someone.” Entries can be no larger than 8 ½ by 11 inches, and must be framed or matted, and ready to hang.
All submissions hang in the back hallway for visitors to vote. Each vote costs $1, and at the end of the month the entry with the most money gets 50 percent of that money. At the end of the year, the monthly winners will be invited to return for a “Winner’s Circle” round of judging the finalists.
The public is also invited to submit photographs for the “We Are the 99%” exhibit, sponsored by the Shawnee Labor Council and on display April 24-28 in the Boneyfiddle Arts Center. Entries must be no larger than 24 by 27 inches, matted or framed and ready to hang, and submitted by April 24.
“They’re really looking to motivate people to visually present topics and issues about positive change. What people in the community want to see in terms of positive change. So if you see something — say for instance, the Boneyfiddle Arts Center. If that’s something you like and want to see more of in our community, then you could take a photograph of that,” Benedict said. “What things are working in our community? What are our strengths, and how can we underscore and highlight that strength?”
The entries will be judged by the public. Prizes will be given to the first-, second-, and third-place winners during a public reception on April 26.
“I’d like to invite anyone in the community who would like to have a show to please come in and talk to one of us. We’d like to be a bridge for the arts in the community so we can help each other grow in visual arts,” Benedict said.
The Center also hosts a series of Community Outreach projects with local schools and organizations. This week they have added a new piece of art created by Portsmouth West Elementary Students, recreating Vincent van Gogh’s famous oil painting “Starry Night” with 7,000 colored bottle caps.
West Elementary Art Teacher Kim Platzer has another classwork display of colorful sculpted figures from classic children’s books “Alice in Wonderland,” “Where the Wild Things Are” and “The Wizard of Oz.”
“We have a month-long cultural celebration called ‘The Day of the Dead.’ Portsmouth has a sister city in Mexico and so we thought it would be a really nice connection to celebrate something that is a cultural connection to our sister city. We will be doing that again this year, and that will be in October,” Benedict said.
Benedict said the Center is doing very well in the downtown Boneyfiddle district, but too many people still don’t even know they exist.
“When people come in and they haven’t been here before, they’re overwhelmed by the local creativity. They really didn’t know what was here. They’ve really not had a venue for this before. The really exciting thing for me is when you see people come in and they wander around and look, and they really enjoy the artwork. They want to talk about it,” she said.
The work even catches the eye of out-of-town visitors.
“We’ve had people from all over the place come in here, and the comments are all very positive and supportive. They’re like, ‘I live in a large community … ’ or ‘I live in an area with a more robust economy, but we don’t have anything like this.’ I hear that over and over again. It’s a real gem, and I’m really honored to be part of the people here who have worked so hard to make this happen,” Benedict said.
Located at 546 Second St., in Portsmouth, the Boneyfiddle Arts Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The Center is closed Sundays and Mondays. More information is also available on the Center’s Facebook page.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.