Traveling art show comes to Beatrice

February 19, 2019

A piece of art less than five inches long was chosen as best in show for the 2018 Conference Exhibition Awards. It was purchased for roughly $500, but is not being displayed with the other winners during their year-long exhibit that’s traveling across Nebraska.

“The best of show is not on tour, it’s at the MONA museum this year,” Nancy Thompson, the curator for the exhibit’s stop in Beatrice, said. “That has never happened before.”

Thompson said each year the Association of Nebraska Art Clubs purchases one piece from the 25 award of excellence winners and donates it to the Museum of Nebraska Art for them to display. ANAC also has a judge decide a piece to be the best of show.

“MONA actually brings someone to the show to pick which one they would like to have,” Thompson said. “The MONA judge and the overall judge of the show last June selected the same item.”

The item in question is called “Starry, Starry Sandhills Evening,” made by Dawn E Bryant of the Thedford Art Guild.

“This piece was about 2.5 by 3.5 inches big, and it consisted of a painting and the outer edge was beaded needle work,” Thompson said. “It is a very nice piece, and it took a lot of work to plan it and execute it, and the artist took a couple of years to actually do it.”

Starry, Starry Sandhills Evening is being displayed at the MONA, but a photograph of it is traveling with the exhibit.

Thompson said that there are 33 art clubs across Nebraska that belong to the ANAC. Each year, the clubs have judges select from a number of pieces to go to a statewide exhibit.

“We’re given a number by the association as to how many pieces that we can send to the state exhibit,” Thompson said. “So that’s the local process. Statewide, the association has a conference once a year, and part of it is this exhibit. Everything that’s submitted by the clubs has space on a wall. Then the association has a judge that they hire to go through and pick. There’s approximately 400 pieces submitted to the statewide exhibit. The judge goes through and picks the top 50.”

Thompson said the 25 artists given the award of excellence receive a trophy and an amount of money, and their pieces then travel the state for a year.

Two members of the Beatrice Art Guild received the award of excellence: Lucky Stradley with her ‘Troll Piggy Bank’ and Erna Beach with her wood carving “Mephistopheles.”

Two additional Beatrice artists were given honorable mentions: Jeri Kuhn with the Art Guild for her work “Bird of Paradise,” and Deb Monfelt with the Beatrice Art Club for her piece “Leaving.”

The Beatrice of the exhibit is being shown in the Carnegie Building.

Thompson said that some of the pieces are available for purchase, with the artists’ information and a purchase price attached at the back of the work.

“If a person wants to buy that piece, they have to deal directly with the artist,” Thompson said. “They cannot collect that piece until the end of the exhibit. It can be purchased, but it’s going to go around the state until June before they can pick it up.”

The 2019 exhibition award winners will be chosen June 19-22 in Albion.

“The bests artists in our state exhibit in this show,” Thompson said, “so it’s pretty cool.”