This story was featured in the November 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art November 2013 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Born out of a series of western art shows at the Tucson Museum of Art, American Women Artists was founded in 1991 with a mission to support women building careers in fine art. The organization has now grown to include women artists working in a variety of genres of representational art from all over North America. This November RS Hanna Gallery hosts the 16th annual AWA member show, featuring works by signature and master signature members alongside this year’s finalists in the national juried competition for associate members. “Our yearly exhibitions are not only a celebration of art and artists, but also of friendships that have grown out of our shared direction in the creative journey,” says signature member Laurel Daniel.
Both portions of the show open with an artists’ reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, November 1, and hang through November 24. The variety of works on display highlights the variety of the organization’s members, with paintings in oil, watercolor, and pastel as well as sculpture in bronze and wood. The subject matter on view runs the gamut, too, including wildlife, figures, landscapes, still lifes, and more.
The juried competition features approximately 60 paintings and sculptures that were selected from more than 857 entries from associate members across the U.S. and Canada. The 60 artists who made it into this year’s show include Elizabeth Pollie, Marin Dobson, Sarah Webber, Kay Northup, and Suzie Seerey-Lester. The gallery hosts an artists-only awards brunch prior to the opening, during which more than $15,000 in cash and prizes are announced, including a Best of Show award package worth more than $6,000.
This year’s master signature and signature members’ show features more than 40 artists who display up to two works each. One participant is Romona Youngquist, who primarily paints scenes near her home in Dundee, OR. Clark Olson, co-founder of Bonner David Galleries in Scottsdale, AZ, believes it is Youngquist’s familiarity with her subject matter that sets her work apart. “She has seen these scenes so much—in every light and from every angle—so she knows how to capture the best in [each scene],” he says. Another participating artist this year is master signature member Virginia Vaughan. The common thread in Vaughan’s work is storytelling, and she often creates pieces as part of a project or series with a personal theme. “People who are drawn to my work want to know the story, or they have a story to tell themselves,” Vaughan says.
Gallery owner Shannon Hanna believes women have always fulfilled the role of storyteller, though the strong male persona has long dominated in western art. “The feminine voice of the West is finally coming into her own—a force to be reckoned with in her emerging power and lyrical beauty, in the story she has to tell as only she can tell it,” Hanna says. This month the voices and stories of women artists are sure to be heard, as well as seen, by all who enter the gallery. —Lindsay Mitchell
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