Editor’s Letter | A Texas Celebration

Artists and collectors enjoy the Oil Painters of America show

By Kristin Hoerth

Along the Creek by Cheryl St. John at the OPA show.

Along the Creek by Cheryl St. John at the OPA show.

Over the years I’ve written about many art shows on this page, but one I haven’t mentioned often enough is the annual Oil Painters of America national exhibition. The show takes place in a different location each year, and this year it was in Fredericksburg, TX, in May.

Southwest Art is one of the sponsors of the event, and so the week leading up to the show’s grand opening began with our second annual “Pampered Paint-Out” for OPA members. Held in a quiet park just outside Fredericksburg, it gave artists the chance to explore beautiful Hill Country scenery while we took care of breakfast, lunch, and an end-of-day wine-and-cheese send-off. Artists explored the rocky banks of Live Oak Creek, with its lush foliage and cactus, among other nearby spots. A great time truly was had by all.

The next few days offered a full schedule of programs for painters, including more plein-air outings, critiques, and demonstrations by artists such as Scott Burdick and Elizabeth Robbins. There were also presentations on creativity, marketing, law, business, and other topics. But nothing matched the excitement of the show’s opening night. The setting was the beautiful and spacious InSight Gallery on Fredericksburg’s Main Street, which was packed with enthusiastic collectors and artists. By the time the gallery closed for the evening, there were red dots everywhere, making for a very successful sale.

Then it was on to the awards presentation, where some 30 prizes were bestowed by this year’s Distinguished Artist and judge, Sherrie McGraw. The biggest award of the night—the Gold Medal for associate and signature members, which comes with a $25,000 check—went to Colorado artist Johanna Harmon. The Silver Medal went to Mary Qian, and the Bronze Medal went to Stan Rogers. Among the many other artists recognized in various categories were Jacqueline Kamin, Jason Saunders, Lori Putnam, Brenda Howell, John Budicin, Mitch Baird, Charles Young Walls, Darcie Peet, Adam Clague, Xiao Jiang, and Qiang Huang.

Finally, on the following Sunday morning, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Sherrie McGraw in front of an audience of artists and collectors. Sherrie told us a little bit about the early career choices that helped her become one of today’s most respected painters. Then we talked about a variety of topics, including originality, the important differences between painting and drawing, her concept of “abstract beauty,” and her solo exhibition next year at the Butler Institute of American Art. It was a terrific end to a busy and wonderful week of oil-painting fun.

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