The Southern Ohio Museum and Cultural Center (SOMACC) recently opened its Cream if the Crop exhibit with a successful reception, welcoming happy guests and great selections of art.
“It is a celebration of local talent and everyone turned out to join in that celebration. It is artwork created by those people in our region and that artwork speaks to all of us,” said Artistic Director Charlotte Gordon.
There were an estimated 300 people in attendance at the opening reception.
“We were so pleased with the reception— the turn out, as well as the community support, were strong,” Gordon said. “It is an important event for the entire artistic community- the artists, collectors, and art lovers; it enriches all of our lives.”
Gordon went on to say that she believes the exhibit was handled well this year and is very well-rounded.
“Balance is something we are always striving for,” Gordon claimed. “We want that balance to reflect the community at large, and that community’s interests. We feel that many minority groups were represented this year, and that the media submitted showed a diverse offering. There were many three-dimensional works, craft-based media as well as fine art, and we had our first video submission. All of these voices are important, and at the Museum we strive to create an environment in which those voices feel safe to be spoken, and that people feel safe to stop and listen.”
Open to artists who reside within 85 miles of Portsmouth, this year’s juried exhibition, ongoing for over 40 years, was the largest ever with 225 entries. This year’s juror, Kelly Pontoni, of Cleveland, was impressed with the quality of the work.
“Thank you to all the artists that have submitted to this wonderful exhibition, and, thank you to The Southern Ohio Museum for asking me to juror this historical, nineteenth biennial juried exhibition. I was overwhelmed at all of the excellent talent of artists that are within an 85 miles radius of Portsmouth,” Pontoni said. “I was able to spend a little bit of time with each entry and was thrilled at the vast variety of works and craftsmanship. A diverse collection of all mediums from 2D and 3D was presented to me, filling the entire museum with entries.”
At the reception, SOMACC awarded over $3,000 in prizes to this year’s winners, all selected by the juror.
The winners included Rita Roberts, who submitted “Girl Power,” for first place; Keri Dodds, who submitted “Brave Girl,” for second place; and April Deacon, for “Our Bodies, Their Choice,” for third place.
“I was very grateful to earn the third place award at Cream of the Crop this year, particularly for a piece about bodily autonomy,” April Deacon said, before discussing the overall experience of the exhibit. “It is an excellent show that displays the extreme variations of work produced by artists in our region. I was thrilled to exhibit alongside my daughter, Gabrielle Deacon, as well as many former students and friends.”
Deacon is an artist and teacher at Portsmouth High School.
Additional awards included Harold Edwards, who submitted “26201,” and received the Boneyfiddle Art Center Award; and Honorable Mentions, Mike Bowen, Santha Gwyn, Vernon Howell, Sara Ivers, Sean Kelly, Joslyn Potts, Megan Rookard, and Nick Sherman.
The juror had a lot of people to choose from, according to Gordon, who said this exhibit was larger than average.
“The 2022 Cream of the Crop is the largest to date. As a staff we are always assessing what is working- Are there more artists living here? Do they feel a supportive home at the museum? How better can we serve this community that is vital to our overall region? The feedback we have received is so positive. It is important that artists feel a comradery with the artist community. It is the regions’ artists who reflect who we are as a people,” Gordon explained.
All of the works in the exhibition are for sale. The public is given the opportunity to see the works prior to the opening by “bidding” on a slot as a Purchase Patron.
“The Purchase Patrons are as eager for the Cream of the Crop as the artists are,” a release from the museum read, “They are so supportive of the artists by purchasing locally made art. If viewers would like to purchase artwork, they need to just talk to the Visitor Services staff member at the front desk.”
Visitors are also asked to vote for their favorite work of art, and at the end of the exhibition the artist receiving the most votes wins the People’s Choice Award.
The exhibition is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 1-5 p.m. The galleries are always admission free. The exhibition runs through September 30.
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved