RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
Artists from the surrounding areas are invited to submit their work to the Southern Ohio Museum to be judged for entry into the bi-annual Cream of the Crop exhibit, which opens June 16.
“We’ve been doing this for 20 years, or maybe more, every other year. It’s the museum’s salute to the artists in the big neighborhood. That neighborhood is 85 miles all the way around us. We draw the line very deliberately short of Columbus and short of Cincinnati because they are in what feels like very different neighborhoods. This is just for our neighbors,” said Chief Museum Curator Sara Johnson.
Entry forms can be picked up at the Southern Ohio Museum on Gallia Street in Portsmouth, Shawnee State University and Ohio University. Entries must be submitted before June 6 along with a $20 entry fee. The artist can submit up to three pieces that are available for sale.
“Based on the past, I can tell you there will be a lot of paintings; there will be oils and there will be water colors. There will be photographs. You would think there might be a bunch of quilts but there aren’t. Almost never. There might be some fabric pieces though. There will be some things that are found object things. Last year we actually had someone enter an installation, which is when an artist puts a bunch of things together to create a little room or an environment. We might have some folk art. We’ll have some things made of wood, and we might have some stained glass,” Johnson said.
On June 7, Timothy and James Keny of Keny Galleries in Columbus will privately review the entries and select about 100 of the best pieces to display in the exhibit.
“They’ve been at this business for a very long time and they have a great reputation throughout the state, and they carry a really interesting range of work. I think they’re really best known for very traditional art paintings, but they carry some abstract art, they carry some folk artists. I think they have the experience to know what they are looking at,” Johnson said.
She said it’s not unheard of that the Keny Gallery might discover a new artist in southern Ohio and display them in their gallery in Columbus.
A special Blue Ribbon Gala opening party will be held at the museum on June 15, with special catering by local culinary artists — called “Cream of the Cooks: The Edible Exhibition.” On the menu is Legendary Liver Pate by Tom Bridwell, Blue Ribbon Beef Tenderloin and Home Run Ham Balls by Saundra Wheeler, Grand Slam Shrimp Spread by Julia Wisniewski, Championship Chicken Salad by Jo Thatcher, First-Place Fruit Kebobs by Sara Daehler, Valedictory Vegetable in Curry by Sallie Schisler, and more. Live music will be performed by local musician Jack Vetter, and artists will be available to discuss their artwork with visitors.
Gala tickets are available at the museum by calling 740-354-5629 until June 8, and cost $20 for museum members and $25 for the general public.
The Cream of the Crop exhibit opens in three museum galleries for the public on June 16, and all of the art on display will be available for sale by the artist.
“We also ask local people to become purchase patrons. It’s really high-risk for them, because they have to say — today — we will spend at least $500 at the show, even though we haven’t seen anything yet. If you want to you can wait until the show opens and it’s all for sale. But as a purchase patron you get to come in before the show opens and make your selection,” Johnson said.
The Kenys will also select a first-, second- and third-place winner among the artists for a cash prize.
“Two years ago when we last did this, the artists received more than $8,000 (collectively),” Johnson said. “Two years ago we were even thicker into a recession than we are now, so we were delighted and we hope to see even more this year.”
Then at the Portsmouth Public Library this summer, in keeping with the Crop theme, the museum will display a “Top Crop” exhibit of Carl Ackerman photographs. The library exhibit opens the same day as the Cream of the Crop exhibit at the museum (June 16), and will continue through August.
Also during the summer, a selection of local musicians will play at the Southern Ohio Museum as part of the performing arts series of concerts. Dwight Lennox will perform on July 13, Stan Workman and Faith Isham performing a classical music concert on July 20, Ladies of Longford (with Hilda Doyle) performing Celtic music on July 27, and closing with John Simon and Cathy Copas on Aug. 19.
“The result of both the concerts and the exhibition every time, is ‘Wow, I can’t believe there is this much going on in this neighborhood of ours.’ The diversity and the quality are just amazing. It’s worth a stop,” Johnson said.
For more information about the Southern Ohio Museum and all Cream of the Crop summer events, visit them at www.somacc.com.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.